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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 12, 2016

Dear friends,

In a piece on Vox, Tez Clark revisits University of Chicago law professor Nicholas Stephanopoulos' paper that explores political power through the lens of race and gender. His conclusion is that women are "the most politically powerless group...women have the least influence on policy at both the state and federal level. Despite their large population share and the range of laws protecting them from discrimination, women continue to be alarmingly powerless relative to men."

Daniel Victor's article in the New York Times confirms what other studies have already suggested - that "having women in the highest corporate offices is correlated with increased profitability, according to a new study of nearly 22,000 publicly traded companies in 91 countries." While women continue to be under-represented on corporate boards, reports like this one from the Peterson Institute for International Economics should inspire action on gender balance in the corporate world and should fuel reform in the political arena as well.

Elections will be held in Ireland on February 26th using multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting - the system that Representation2020 is proposing for U.S. elections. Here are two interesting angles on that election from the RTE News and from The Irish Times - stay tuned for news on how women fare in these elections.

Lee Drutman from the New America Foundation wrote a great piece on how multi-winner districts with ranked choice voting will address the dysfunction in American democracy in a way that other reforms cannot. Representation2020 has a page on the impact of electoral reform on women's representation - stay tuned for the redesigned Rep2020 website scheduled to launch this spring.

PBS's To the Contrary with Bonnie Erbe will feature a special Black history month episode this weekend with another great line-up of panelists.

I attended a talk this week at Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington, DC where Nancy Cohen discussed her book Breakthrough: The Making of America's First Woman President.

Nancy reiterated her argument that women presidential candidates matter because of Style, Symbolism, and Substance. Click on the link above to order a copy.

Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina left the race gracefully this week with this powerful message "To young girls and women across the country, I say: do not let others define you. Do not listen to anyone who says you have to vote a certain way or for a certain candidate because you're a woman. That is not feminism. Feminism doesn't shut down conversations or threaten women. It is not about ideology. It is not a weapon to wield against your political opponent. A feminist is a woman who lives the life she chooses and uses all her God-given gifts. And always remember that a leader is not born, but made. Choose leadership."

Hillary Clinton had this to say in last night's democratic debate: "I have spent my entire adult life working toward making sure that women are empowered to make their own choices, even if that choice is not to vote for me. I believe that it's most important that we unleash the full potential of women and girls in our society. And I feel very strongly that I have an agenda, I have a record that really does respond to a lot of the specific needs that the women in our country face. So I'm going to keep making that case. I'm going to keep making sure that everything I've done, everything that I stand for is going to be well known."

While I enjoy sharing tidbits of news from the world of women's representation with you each week I am always glad when you use the listserv to share information about an event or to query the group. As always, please let me know if there is anything you would like me to include in this weekly missive.

And finally, I hope you will consider signing and sharing my petition to the White House to rename an airport the Eleanor Roosevelt Airport (ERA). Incredibly there are no major airports in the US named for a woman (Clinton airport in Little Rock is named for both Clintons), and tragically there is still no Equal Rights Amendment in the U.S. constitution. I think it's unlikely that I will find the 100,000 signers necessary to trigger White House action but it's a fun way to educate people about the lack of gender parity. Here is the link to the petition: and an image you can use for posting it on your website or social media:

With parity in mind,


P.S. I have noticed several references to the U.S. ranking behind 76 countries in women's representation - this is incorrect. The U.S. in fact ranks behind 95 countries. Here is an excerpt from my blog, complete with an accurate chart, on this topic:

"The IPU numeric ranking is misleading. Here’s why: the ranking groups countries that tie as sharing one ranking. For example, Iceland is ranked 11th, according to the new IPU ranking, tied with Namibia and Nicaragua. Following those three countries is Spain, ranked at 12th. A common understanding of ranking 12th globally is that only 11 countries would be ranked higher. That isn’t the case. In fact, 13 countries are ranked higher than Spain. This means an accurate ranking for Spain is 14th in the world. The IPU ranking puts the United States at 76th, but in reality 95 countries rank higher which places the United States at 96th.
IPU’s chart and research is crucial to understanding women’s representation globally and so it is very important that the data be presented in a logical manner that allows us to make meaningful comparisons over time.

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