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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation April 27, 2018


​(Debbie Lesko R-AZ after her victory in Arizona this week)
Dear friends and allies,

Politico reports that Debbie Lesko (R-AZ) won the special election to the House of Representatives this week bringing the number of republican women in the House to 23. While the tight race yielded a pickup for GOP women the total number of republican women in the House has declined in that last decade from a high of 25 in 2005-2007.

Republican Debbie Lesko won the House special election in Arizona Tuesday night, holding off a closer-than-expected Democratic challenge in a district that President Donald Trump won by 21 points in 2016.

Lesko had 53 percent of the vote when The Associated Press called the race an hour after the polls closed, with over 155,000 early votes tallied. Democrat Hiral Tipirneni had 47 percent of the vote.
But Lesko’s single-digit margin is the latest evidence that Republicans face a punishing midterm environment, even in Trump-friendly territory. Lesko’s victory comes on the heels of losses for Republicans in southwestern Pennsylvania, where Democratic Rep. Conor Lamb beat Republican Rick Saccone in a district that backed Trump by nearly 20 points in 2016, and in Alabama, where Democrat Doug Jones defeated Republican Roy Moore last year. In many other special elections that Democrats have lost, the vote has shifted sharply in their direction compared to the 2016 presidential results.

Congratulations to the many of you who participated in Tiffany Shlain's #GettingTo5050Day on Thursday - there were thousands of events around the globe to elevate awareness about the need for gender equality as well as a nifty tool to build accountability and forward momentum for gender parity.

Anabel Pasarow writes in Refinery29 about "11 Famous Women On The Importance of Gender Parity" 

April 26 marks the second annual 50/50 Day, a global day centered around the goal of achieving a gender-balanced world across all races, ages, issues, and industries.

The initiative is spearheaded by filmmaker Tiffany Shlain and the day is being observed in over 57 countries worldwide with over 35,000 events, including film screenings, panels, and conversations about #GettingTo5050. It's also a day about paying homage to the women before us who have pushed boundaries and shattered ceilings, encouraging us to fight for parity in their wake.

To kick off the day with some inspiration, here are some our favorite quotes by prominent women in politics, entertainment, business, and art about the need for a gender-balanced world.

#GettingTo5050, a global movement rooted in actionable tools and resources, aims to catalyze the conversations that will inspire a more gender-balanced world. Because true equality doesn't just lift women—it lifts everyone. Learn more here.

Politico Playbook published their list of women to watch this week

Women to Watch highlights the women in D.C., across the country and around the globe who are at the forefront of politics and policy. From operatives navigating the midterm elections to those negotiating the terms of Brexit and leading a nationwide gun control movement, these women will be leading the political discussion for years to come.

​The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA) published a very interesting report on the impact of gender-targeted public funding of political parties in Albania, Croatia, France, Portugal, and Haiti.
Gender inequality in the political process remains a major problem in all the countries of the world. Overcoming the obstacles to achieving gender equality in politics will require action in many areas. Financial obstacles are often identified as a major factor. Women often have less access than men to the resources needed to successfully seek a party nomination or stand in an election, and political parties tend to nominate men to winnable positions so that they can benefit from the resources at their disposal.

This report does not discuss the connection between political finance and gender equality in general, or the work done to reduce the challenges that this connection entails (see e.g. Ballington and Kahane 2014; Falguera and Casas- Zamora 2016; Cigane and Ohman 2014). Instead, it focuses on how formal regulations on political finance can be used to help break down the barriers to equal political participation by women and men. More specifically, it focuses on the particular regulations where the provision of public funding (state assistance) to political parties is linked to gender-related activities by those political parties. Such provisions exist today in around 30 countries worldwide, and it is a form of regulation that has become increasingly common in the past two decades (see Figure 1.1). Provisions of this kind now exist in countries in almost all the regions of the world, and in both older and emerging democracies. There are no recorded cases of gender-targeted public funding having been repealed, although a revision of the amounts provided in Italy will significantly reduce the impact of the provisions there (Ministero dell'Economia e delle Finanze 2017).

....The concept of gender-targeted public funding is used to denote systems where either the eligibility of a political party to receive some or all of its public funding, or the amount (allocation) of public funding that an eligible political party receives, is formally tied to provisions related to gender, or where some of the public funding is earmarked for gender-related purposes. Provisions can include the relative share of women and men among the candidates presented by a political party in an election, or the balance between women and men among the successful candidates of a party. The intent and underlying logic of different forms of gender-targeted public funding are discussed in Chapter 2. Ultimately, provisions of this kind are successful if more women get involved in politics, are elected to office and, in the longer term, gender inequality in the political process is reduced and political decision-making becomes more gender-sensitive.

There was another story on CNN about the historic number of women running for Congress this year and the reality that most of these new candidates are democrats, another shortcoming of this 'wave' election is that waves always recede. New strategies that dismantle the electoral infrastructure of the status quo are needed for lasting change and to truly represent all women:

"We need Republican women at the table," lamented Erin Loos Cutraro, the founder and CEO of She Should Run, a nonpartisan, grassroots networking organization with the mission to increase the number of women running for office in the United States.

Before the 2016 election, She Should Run's network had about 100 women join per month. That rate has risen tenfold in the 17 months since Trump's victory, with close to 17,000 women joining.

"We've seen a tremendous surge of women come into our programs," said Cutraro, pointing out that her organization does not ask members for partisan identification. But it's clear, she said, that female political engagement at the grassroots level, post-Trump, remains a movement of the left.

A snapshot of US House candidates, both who have filed or intend to run, shows the increased political engagement as well as the lopsided numbers between the two parties. Data from the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP) at Rutgers University shows a historic number of women running for office in 2018, especially at the US House level.

But of the 440 women candidates running for the House, 332 are Democrats and 108 are Republican, according to a CAWP tally. In the Senate contests, again, Democratic women outnumber Republican women. The female partisan gap in the Senate races is smaller, at 32 Democrats to 22 Republicans, the CAWP research shows.


​(London mayor Sadiq Khan - elected with ranked choice voting - with sculptor Gillian Wearing)

RepresentWomen leadership circle member and past AZ LWV president Barbara Klein alerted me this story on MSN about the new statue of British suffragist Millicent Fawcett installed this week in London's historic Parliament Square.

Sam Smethers, chief executive officer of the Fawcett Society is quoted in this piece in The Guardian by Alexandra Topping, who writes:

Quotas to get more women into key positions in politics, business and the arts must be introduced to address a massive imbalance of power in Britain, according to equality campaigners.

With a statue of suffragist Millicent Fawcett set to become the first of a woman in London’s Parliament Square on Tuesday, analysis from the Fawcett Society Sex and Power Index has shown that men still overwhelmingly dominate positions of power in every sector of society.

The figures show that women make up only 6% of FTSE 100 chief executives, 16.7% of supreme court justices, 17.6% of national newspaper editors, 26% of cabinet ministers and 32% of MPs.

“When we see this data brought together it is both shocking and stark – despite some prominent women leaders, men haven’t let go of the reins of power and progress is painfully slow,” said Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society. 

“Equality won’t happen on its own. We have to make it happen. That is why we are calling for time-limited use of quotas and making all jobs flexible by default.”

She called for legislation that would force companies to advertise all jobs on a flexible basis unless there was a business reason for them not to be.

The organisation is also urging the government to enact section 106 of the Equality Act, which requires political parties to report the diversity of their candidates. Despite the law no data is collected and there is no monitoring of party representation regarding disability, ethnicity or gender.

Reflecting of the length of time it took to get a statue of a woman in Parliament Square, Smethers added: “It is no coincidence that male-dominated decision-making has to date commemorated so few of the great women in our history. We have to correct this imbalance for future generations and we have to ensure that women today can overcome those persistent structural barriers, which hold all of us back.”

I loved this story from the Montreal News about the promises that parties in Quebec are making to their supporters about efforts to elect more women and achieve gender parity as it's a model for state parties in the US to follow - all the many newly-civically engaged women - and men - should be calling on local and state party leadership to put forth a serious action plan to advance women's representation:

Quebec’s party leaders are each making promises on how to get more women into politics and create gender parity at the National Assembly.

Party leaders handed a proposal for a bill from the non-partisan Groupe Femmes, Politique et Democracie Tuesday, calling for parity in Quebec politics – and specifically, an amendment to the Election Act that would force all political parties to ensure women make up 40 to 60 per cent of all candidates.

The public push was made in a room filled mostly with women, including female MNAs who've broken into what many say is still a ‘boys’ club’ and a tough environment. 

“It's difficult, but we have to feel that we are respected, that people are having discussions with us, not fighting with each other,” said Helene David, the minister responsible for the status of women.

PQ deputy leader Veronique Hivon said a better work-life balance would also help.

“We would have a maternal and parental leave. That is quite a change. It's quite unbelievable that it's not something that's available for the members of the National Assembly.”

PQ leader Jean-Francois Lisee said if elected, his government would also table a bill aimed at bringing parity to the National Assembly.

“We'll have the discussion on the means, the mechanisms, but clearly it's a strong political signal that the National Assembly has to send to society and to itself, that it wants to meet a higher standard of equality,” he said.

CAQ leader Francois Legault is taking note, saying he's not committing to a bill, but is promising a gender-balanced cabinet if he's the next premier.

Our friends at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation released a very interesting study about the impact of the #MeToo movement on voters and candidates. You can read the full memo and share the information on social media platforms:

Sample Tweets:

New research from our friends at @BLFF_org released today shows voters feel strongly about sexual harassment in the wake of #MeToo. Learn more here

Six months after #MeToo took social media by storm, voters feel strongly about sexual harassment, according to this new research from our friends at @BLFF_org.  Learn more here

Brenda Carter, director of the Reflective Democracy Campaign, wrote about two new fellowships:

The Reflective Democracy Campaign Announces Journalism and Research Fellowships

The Reflective Democracy Campaign, a project of the Women Donors Network, analyzes and disrupts the demographics of power in the United States. We conduct groundbreaking research that shines a light on the exclusion of women and people of color from political leadership, and catalyze activism and scholarship aimed at achieving a democracy where everyone has a seat at the table.  You can learn more about the Reflective Democracy Campaign at WhoLeads.Us.

We’re delighted to announce the creation of two new fellowships, to begin in the summer of 2018, to support innovative, intersectional work in the areas of journalism and research.

Journalism Fellowship

Since its launch in 2014, the Reflective Democracy Campaign has engaged with a wide range of journalists covering race and gender in politics.  The Campaign’s findings and analysis of the demographics of political power have become an ongoing point of reference, and the Campaign has also acted as a convener and background resource for journalists working in this area.  

We recognize the importance of rigorous, intersectional reporting on the demographics of political power, and we seek to facilitate additional work in this area in this key election year by supporting a Reflective Democracy Journalism Fellow.  The fellowship will invest in a journalist with relevant experience and innovative perspective, enabling him/her to dedicate significant time to thinking and writing about the demographics of political power while also engaging with other journalists in the field.  

The Journalism Fellow will receive support from the Campaign to:

  • Research and develop articles, commentaries, or other coverage of the demographics of political power in the U.S. (the specific medium is flexible).
  • Design and organize opportunities for peer to peer engagement with other journalists, with the goal of creating opportunities for discussion, resource sharing, and critical thinking about the ways race, gender, and political power are covered in the media.
  • Monitor high-level trends and gaps in the public discussion of race, gender, and politics.

The Fellow will plan and design his or her own program, subject to feedback from the Campaign’s leadership.  The Fellow will work independently but also contribute insight and perspective to the Reflective Democracy Campaign.

The length of the fellowship is flexible and can be adapted to the individual, but we anticipate four to six months, beginning in the summer of 2018.  The Reflective Democracy Campaign will provide a stipend to support the work of the fellow, also to be determined on an individual basis.  Our preference is for a full-time fellowship, but we are flexible and willing to design the fellowship around the right candidate.  A limited travel budget will also be available.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest and resume/cv to [email protected] by May 11, 2018.

Research Fellowship

Since its launch in 2014, the Reflective Democracy Campaign has conducted extensive research on the demographics of power in the United States, and has engaged with researchers at academic institutions and non-profit organizations around the country who are working to better understand the barriers that keep women and people of color from elected leadership. At the core of the Campaign’s research is our comprehensive data set that tracks the race and gender of elected officials and candidates at a federal, state and county level and municipal offices for the top 200 cities. 

The Campaign seeks to build our research by supporting a Reflective Democracy Research Fellow who would broaden and deepen engagement with the academic and activist fields as well as explore new research questions on behalf of the Campaign. The fellowship will provide the opportunity during a key election year to dedicate significant time to research on the demographics of political power while drawing on the resources and strategic orientation of the Reflective Democracy Campaign and the Women Donors Network.  While research should leverage the Reflective Democracy data set, we are open to both qualitative and quantitative research efforts.   

The Research Fellow will receive support from the Reflective Democracy Campaign to:

  • Develop and conduct new research on the demographics of political power
  •  Monitor and synthesize current academic research in the field
  • Identify key areas for future research
  • Design and organize opportunities for interaction with other researchers, with the goal of increasing engagement with and strengthening the Reflective Democracy Campaign’s research, as well as building relationships with leaders in the field.

The Fellow will plan and design his or her own program, subject to feedback from the Campaign’s leadership.  After initial discovery and orientation, the Fellow will submit ideas and approaches for a strategic plan of research and engagement with the field. Additionally, to support the Campaign’s program and vision, the Campaign may identify or suggest specific research projects or areas of inquiry for the Fellow Our goal is to invest in a critical thinker and strong researcher who will work quite independently while also occasionally participating as a member of the Reflective Democracy team.  

The length of the fellowship is flexible and can be adapted to the individual, but we anticipate four to six months, beginning in the summer of 2018.  The Reflective Democracy Campaign will provide a stipend to support the work of the fellow, also to be determined on an individual basis.  Our preference is for a full-time fellowship, but we are flexible and willing to design the fellowship around the right candidate.  A limited travel budget will also be available.

Qualified applicants will have a record of scholarly research in the area of race and/or gender and politics and interest in and ability to engage with researchers, organizers, and activists in the field.  Graduate work in a relevant academic discipline is preferred.

To apply, please submit a letter of interest and resume/cv to [email protected] by May 11, 2018.

(from my garden)

That's all for today friends,


And finally, according to this piece in The New York Times there are more men named John than women in many different sectors:

In the corridors of American power, it can be as easy to find a man named John as it is to find a woman.

Fewer Republican senators are women than men named John — despite the fact that Johns represent 3.3 percent of the male population, while women represent 50.8 percent of the total population. Fewer Democratic governors are women than men named John. And fewer women directed the top-grossing 100 films last year than men named Michael and James combined.

These comparisons come from our updated and expanded Glass Ceiling Index, in which we counted the women and men in important leadership roles in American life — including politics, law, business, tech, academia, film and media.

Of the groups of leaders we examined, chief executives and directors of last year’s top-grossing films have the lowest rates of women. Top venture capitalists and House Republicans were next, followed by groups of politicians from both parties: Republican senators and governors, and Democratic governors...

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