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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 8th, 2023

Dear Readers,

As the U.S. Open draws to a close, it's important to acknowledge its role in advancing gender equality. In his articleScott Allen highlights how tennis icon Billie Jean King championed women's representation by voicing her frustration with the gender disparity in prize money at the 1972 U.S. Open. King threatened not to compete the following year if her needs were unmet. In 1973, Ban deodorant stepped in with a $55,000 grant, the "Ban Equalizer," ensuring the U.S. Open became the first Grand Slam to award equal prize money to both genders.

Billie Jean King, painted by Melanie Humble

King's advocacy and negotiations with Ban made this historic shift possible. As the United States Open commemorates the 50th anniversary of this milestone, it emphasizes the importance of equitable representation and respect for female athletes in sports. This example was later embraced by the larger tennis community, underscoring the relevance of women's representation and merits in the athletic world.

Highlighting Women in the Labor Movement

In honor of Labor Day this week, Gender on the Ballot published a terrific piece by the Barbara Lee Family Foundation team on six incredible women who have significantly impacted the movement and their communities, including working towards living wages.

Hattie Canty... became involved in union organizing after migrating from Alabama to Las Vegas and working for the Maxim Hotel. After joining the Las Vegas Hotel and Culinary Workers Union Local 226 and being elected president, Canty led several publicized strikes, including a protest for unfair labor conditions for culinary workers at the new Frontier Hotel and Gambling, the longest labor strike in American history, which lasted for six and a half years. Canty is most known for fighting for a living wage in addition to her support for minority involvement in the labor movement and workforce advancement...

Jessie De La Cruz was a migrant worker from a young age and often switched schools due to it. In 1965, De La Cruz joined the United Farm Workers union at the request of Cesar Chavez, becoming the group’s first woman recruiter. Through her union work, De La Cruz participated in strikes, became a delegate to the Democratic National Convention, testified before the Senate, and met with the Pope. De La Cruz’s union work involved helping to ban the short-handled hoe, educating farm workers, and fighting injustice for the working poor...

Ai-Jen Poo is currently the president of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, an organization that advocates for the rights of domestic workers in the U.S. Poo first began organizing domestic workers in 1996 with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, a division within the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence. In 2000, Poo founded Domestic Workers United, a New York-based organization of nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers, who identify as women of color, strives for “power, respect, and fair labor standards.”

Top Contenders for Mexico's Next President Likely to Be Two Women as FAM Party Selects Sen. Xóchitl Gálvez as Candidate for 2024 Election

This week, the Mexico Daily News put out a piece about the likelihood of Mexico electing its first female president in 2024, considering the top contenders in the race are both women! On Sunday, the three-party coalition Broad Front for Mexico (FAM) announced that Senator Xóchitl Gálvez will be their candidate in the upcoming 2024 Presidential election. The confirmation was made during a special event at the Angel of Independence monument in Mexico City, Mexico. 

The PAN senator, an Indigenous Otomí woman from Hidalgo who was mayor of the Mexico City borough of Miguel Hidalgo between 2015 and 2018, defeated PRI Senator Beatriz Paredes in the final stage of a contest for the alliance’s candidacy that began in July with 13 aspirants. The senator, who represents the PAN but is not a member of that party, said that she is “politically color-blind” and, as a champion of the nation rather than a particular political force, sees just one color – “the color of Mexico,” which is usually represented by green, red and white.

As president, Gálvez said she would lead a government for all Mexicans and pledged to not divide citizens along political lines, as López Obrador frequently does by referring to many of those who criticize his administration as “conservatives” and/or “corrupt.”

Gálvez is seeking to become Mexico’s first female president, but polls show that another woman, former Mexico City mayor Claudia Sheinbaum, is more likely to prevail at next year’s election. Polls also show that Sheinbaum is the frontrunner in the six-person contest to represent Morena and its allies next June.

Mexico uses a proportional voting system and gender quotas to ensure more women are recruited to run, and more women get elected. Currently, Mexico is tied for 4th place with other countries that use a combination of these strategies. Given the candidate-centric nature of American politics, adopting ranked choice voting in districts that elect more than two representatives is the most viable strategy to elect more women to office in the United States - at the local, state, and federal level.

Montana's Path to Fairer Elections: Grassroots Initiative Fights for Ranked Choice Voting

Arren Kimbel-Sannit published an article in the Montana Free Press highlighting a local initiative to increase public awareness and support for ranked choice voting. Composed primarily of volunteers, the group Ranked Choice Voting Montana is working to educate voters about how ranked choice voting can create a more fair, responsive, and representative government. By gathering petition signatures and speaking to Montana residents in public spaces, RCV Montana is increasing voters’ knowledge of the benefits of ranked choice voting and fostering more significant approval for the reform throughout the state.

In addition to establishing a more balanced and fair government, research has shown that ranked choice voting can significantly increase women’s representation in political office. As found in RepresentWomen’s 2023 Gender Parity Index, Montana remains far from achieving gender parity in politics. The state’s gender parity score this year was only 16.2, meaning it received a “D” grade. By adopting ranked choice voting, Montana could experience significant gains toward gender parity. 

Earlier this year, Montana legislators passed a bill banning ranked choice voting, claiming it was too complicated for voters to understand. RCV Montana aims to bolster public support for ranked choice voting before the 2025 session when legislators could repeal the ban. If RCV Montana is successful, the group could play a critical role in enacting a voting reform that would increase women’s representation in politics and give a greater voice to the people. Sign their petition today!

“Our mission is to get out there and talk about ranked choice voting and educate people about it, how it works, how it can improve our elections and help voters,” Eric Buhler, the nonprofit organization’s executive director and only paid staffer, told Montana Free Press. “It’s a reform that gives more voice to the people.”

“The first and primary benefit, that there’s a majority winner, has a natural positive effect in that when legislators know they have a majority mandate, they’re going to better represent the people when they’re in office because they’re going to have to come back and get elected by a majority,” Buhler said.  

He said other benefits include a diminished risk of vote-splitting, potentially encouraging candidates to run who otherwise wouldn’t because they fear sapping votes from similar candidates. 

Republicans Seek Impeachment of Newly Seated Left-Leaning Wisconsin State Supreme Court Judge

Photo credit: Morry Gash/Associated Press

This week, Reid J. Epstein wrote an interesting article for The New York Times about a woman judge whose ability to serve and lead might be jeopardized due to party politics. Republicans are considering impeaching newly seated liberal Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice Protasiewicz to maintain their stronghold on state politics. RepresentWomen has found that women judges are underrepresented, so Justice Protasiewicz's ability to continue working is vital. 

The push, just five weeks after Justice Janet Protasiewicz joined the court and before she has heard a single case, serves as a last-ditch effort to stop the new 4-to-3 liberal majority from throwing out Republican-drawn state legislative maps and legalizing abortion in Wisconsin.

At issue for Wisconsin Republicans are Justice Protasiewicz’s stated views on Wisconsin’s legislative maps. In a deliberate strategy to energize and win support from Democratic donors and voters during her campaign this spring, she was unusually blunt about her positions on issues including abortion rights and the state’s maps, which she called “rigged.”

Justice Protasiewicz has said nothing publicly about the case. She declined to comment, but on Tuesday, she released a letter she had received from the Wisconsin Judicial Commission, an independent body that investigates complaints against judges, dismissing complaints that she had violated the state’s judicial code of ethics by stating her “personal views” about abortion and Wisconsin’s legislative maps.

Gender Inequities Resurface as Offices Reopen

Sarah Green Carmicheal’s article in Mint highlights resurfacing domestic gender inequities as employees return to the office. During the early stages of the pandemic, couples found more equitable ways to divide household chores because of flexible work schedules. This flexibility dwindles as employers demand more in-person office days, creating concerns that gender gaps may still exist at work and home. Men disproportionately struggle to achieve an equitable work-life balance, and employer attitudes toward gender are crucial in contributing to these differences. Employers must remain open to hybrid work arrangements and offer equal support for all employees to achieve genuine gender equality in both careers and domestic life.

The evidence shows that most couples engage in a little bit of self-deception about the balance of labour in their relationships. In surveys of two-career heterosexual couples, women are more likely to say that each partner’s career is equally important, while men are more likely to say their own career gets priority. Economic data suggests the men are right. But men are much less clear-eyed when it comes to household labour; there, it’s men who express egalitarian ideals but consistently overestimate their contribution to housework.

What this says to me is that couples today want to share the load equally— women to be equal partners in earning and men to be equal partners at home. But something is getting in the way. A big part of that something is employer attitudes and work policies.

What’s Your Favorite Sweet Treat?

The day always seems brighter when you have a sweet treat in your hand. Rank your favorite desserts! 

That's all for this week. Have a great weekend!

The RepresentWomen Team


P.S. Research Director, first and longest-standing staff member, and all-around fantastic human Courtney Lamendola’s birthday is tomorrow! 🎉 Thank you, Courtney, for leading the research team and producing valuable reports on women’s representation.💜⭐️

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