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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 24, 2022

While Cynthia is away representing us at the League of Women Voters National Convention in Denver, the RepresentWomen Staff have got you covered!


From teammate to teammate, we'll give you our must-reads for women’s representation from this week.


Title IX Turns 50: A lesson in systems and solutions

By Katie Usalis

Thursday June 23rd marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, which prohibited sex-based exclusion and discrimination in education and sports. Like the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Title IX was an intentional policy intervention that removed barriers to safely, meaningfully, and fully participating in society. The ADA revolutionized the way we approach disability by putting the focus on removing barriers to inclusion (e.g., installing curb cuts and prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability) rather than focusing on “fixing” the individual so that they fit better into a problematic environment or system. 


Similarly, Title IX leveled the playing field and created opportunities for women and girls to safely access education and compete in athletics. It meant codifying the right to education, and not leaving it to the whims of individual super intendants, athletic directors, or university presidents. 


We at RepresentWomen are inspired by Title IX and consider it a viable and replicable model for how to remove barriers to women’s safe, full, and meaningful participation in US politics. In celebration of this historic moment in progress towards gender equality and the power of structural reform to create a large and lasting impact, we’d like to highlight two Title IX features from this week.


Title IX was a structural change that led to many of the cultural shifts we’ve experienced since its passing. In her piece in the Washington Post, sports columnist Sally Jenkins writes that Title IX not only increased opportunities on the individual level, but expanded what the world believed women are capable of:


“When you cure the perception of emotional frailty and physical incompetence in a young woman, you kill the idea that there are some things she is constitutionally unfit to do. And you seed a new idea in her, that she has the inalienable right to choose her professional interest and to work at it with an unembarrassed shouting passion…

Athletic competition was a unique arena in which women could prove they weren’t inherent “chokers,” [Billie Jean] King once said. That was why King took such a sustained interest in a young pre-Title IX Stanford undergrad tennis player she met in 1972 named Sally Ride and mentored her even after Ride decided not to turn pro and chose to pursue physics instead. In a NASA news conference before her first space flight, Ride was famously asked, “Do you weep when things go wrong on the job?” Ride just grinned and suggested her male crewmate answer the same question.”


Last week, 19th* held its third annual 19th* Represents Summit, which of course honored the 50th anniversary of Title IX. This event dove into the history and impact of this landmark law and included discussions with leaders across many fields about the future work of gender equality and protections for LGBTQ+ students. It even featured keynotes from Senator Elizabeth Warren, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona and WNBA star Candace Parker. 


Senator Elizabeth Warren, who was an educator before she moved into politics, had this to say about the lasting and far-reaching impact of structural reform for gender equality:


“[Title IX] has been a part of expanding opportunities for women across the board. So when we think about this change in time, think about Title IX, but intersect it with the other changes that are happening right at the same time…These notions that women are in fact full participants in the college experience, in education, in making decisions about their own bodies, and that in turn has to do with the kind of money they can earn, the kind of career opportunities that are open to them. I see all these pieces tied together, and Title IX is like the…fireworks that got things started.”



Deep Dive: A Record Win for Women in France’s Elections

By Steph Scaglia



In 2017, 223 women were elected to serve in France’s lower chamber of parliament, setting a new record for female representation of 38.65%. In the recent June election however, there was a significant drop in this number, with women winning 215 of the 577 total seats in parliament. In contrast with 2017, this year’s cycle failed to highlight gender equality as a significant issue in the presidential election campaign. Notably, women MPs were expected to grow though, with more than 44% of candidates being female (compared with 2017’s 42.4%). 


Broken down by party, the right (Les Republicains) now has around 29.5% MPs, the far-right Rassemblement National has 37.1%, the left-wing Nupes have 43.6%, and Macron’s La Republique en Marche has 40.4%, which is a 10 point drop from 2017. 


France ranks high in the European Union on the European Institute for Gender Equality’s Gender Equality Index, following only Sweden and Denmark, but this is not reflected in the political sphere. France ranks 33rd out of 185 countries according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s ranking, hovering just below 40% women in both the upper and lower houses. It is evident that steady progress has been made in France, especially since the 2000 introduction of legislation that made gender balance in regional, municipal, senatorial, and European elections compulsory. This did and does not apply to parliamentary elections though, but still encourages parity through imposing financial penalties on parties which have less than 50% women. Although, even in regards to candidate lists, there may be parity but there are no rules about who sits at the top of these lists, and often the top contenders are not women. Only 16% of France’s mayors are women, and 6 of the 41 cities with over 100,00 residents have women mayors. 



Nevertheless, France recently appointed Elisabeth Borne as Prime Minister, the first woman to hold this position since 1992, and the second woman to ever hold this post. Macron had previously specified that he wanted a woman to hold this post, likely nodding to his emphasis on gender balance during his 2017 run for president. France continues to progress overall, but setbacks must not be overlooked. Structural obstacles persist both in societal norms, and within the political sphere. Men continue to have the most speaking time in parliament, and hold positions with the most prestige. In order for gender balance to truly be achieved, France must continue to push not just for parity, but for equality of power and opportunity. 


Four Take-Aways for Women in Tuesday’s Primaries 

By Kaycie Goral 


As November approaches the match-ups are being set, the attention grabbed, and the national portrait of representation is becoming clearer. 


Here are our takeaways from this Tuesday’s primaries, featuring just some of the many primary wins for women candidates. 


1) For the first time in Alabama history, two women will face off for the state’s highest office. 

Graphic Created by RepresentWomen 


In Alabama Two women will face off for the state’s highest office for the first time in the state’s history. 

Yolanda Flowers of Birmingham won a Democratic runoff Tuesday evening against Sen. Malika Sanders Fortier, D-Selma. Flowers is the first Black woman nominated for governor by a major party in Alabama.


Republican Incumbent, Ivey is the second woman and first Republican woman elected to the governor’s office. She’s ranked as one of the ten most popular governors, garnering an approval rating of 62%.

Flowers will face Ivey in the general election on Nov. 8, but whoever wins, this is a remarkable feat for women in Alabama.

It’s a long-awaited step forward toward gender balance in the state. According to RepresentWomen’s Gender Parity Index, Alabama ranks 33rd in the country. Totaling only 16.4% women in the state Legislature, or 23 out of 140.

According to the most recent Status of Women in Alabama report from The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, 17.8% of Alabama women work in the government sector.


Graphic from RepreentWomen’s 2021 Gender Parity Index Report


2) Trump-backed Britt beats Trump-outcast Brooks in Alabama


Katie Britt speaks to supporters in Montgomery, Ala., on Tuesday.Credit...Charity Rachelle for The New York Times

In Alabama’s high-profile U.S. Senate race, Katie Britt won against Rep. Mo Brooks. 

No woman has been elected to the Senate from Alabama, though two have served in appointed roles. The state also has never had a female senator and governor serving at the same time.

Katie Britt, a former chief of staff to the retiring Senator Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, won the Republican nomination, comfortably putting the 40-year-old on track to become the youngest woman in the United States Senate.

Trump-endorsed Britt is the prohibitive favorite against Democrat Will Boyd in the November election in the deep-red state. 


3) Bowser poised for a historic third term as DC mayor

Associated Press/Manuel Balce Ceneta


In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser defeated three primary opponents in her bid to become the first mayor in the nation’s capital since the 1990s to win three consecutive terms.

Bowser defeated DC Councilmembers Robert White and Trayon White and 2018 mayoral candidate James Butler in a race focused on violent crime. The race underscored a national tension between establishment and progressive Democrats in other cities. Bowser said she would increase the size of the DC police force as calls to defund police departments grow. Bowser also grabbed national attention and some local praise for her battles with former President Trump while he was in the White House.

The nation's capital is solidly  Democratic, so the party's primary effectively determines the winner of the mayor's race


4) The stage is set in key House races in Virginia and Georgia


In Virginia’s attention-grabbing primary races, Jen Kiggans, a state senator, picked up the Republican nomination in the Second Congressional District, handily beating Jarome Bell, who had called for the execution of people convicted of voter fraud


Kiggans will face Representative Elaine Luria, a Democrat, in what is expected to be a highly competitive House race in the fall.


Also in Virginia, Prince William County sheriff’s deputy Yesli Vega, won in the Republican primary in the state’s Seventh Congressional District. She will take on Democrat Representative Abigail Spanberger.

Julie Conway, the executive director of Value in Electing Women, or VIEW,  PAC, which backed both Vega and Kiggans, said their victories send “an obvious signal that voters appreciate the need to have more women in congress.” 


“We saw the start of it in 2020- the Republican women who were successful in 2020. Republicans flipped 15 seats, and 11 of them are women.”


Audra Melton for The New York Times


As we all focus on Georgia this November, going into the general, Georgians have once again ignored Trump’s influence In the race for their highest office and others. 

Incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp, a Trump vendetta target, won renomination in a landslide last month, comfortably  beating a Trump-backed challenger. 

While, the rematch between Kemp and Democratic star Stacy Abrams might look familiar, their race is unfolding in a vastly different political climate compared with 2018, when Ms. Abrams electrified Democrats as she vied to become the country’s first Black female governor. 



Also on Tuesday, two of Mr. Trump’s picks for House races lost. 

In Georgia’s 10th District, Vernon Jones — a longtime Democrat who endorsed Trump in 2020, became a Republican, and now calls himself a “Black Donald Trump” — lost to Mike Collins, the son of a former congressman, in a contest that became remarkably  hostile. 

At one point, the victorious Collins campaign handed out rape whistles with Mr. Jones’s name on them to draw attention to a specific 2005 allegation and a history of misconduct with women. Mr. Jones filed a police report against Mr. Collins, claiming a tweet was threatening.


Elijah Nouvelage | Bloomberg | Getty Images


Also, in Georgia, State Representative Bee Nguyen won the Democratic nomination for secretary of state.  Ms. Nguyen has since secured the endorsement of Stacey Abrams


Nguyen will face Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, who came out victorious in a Trump-targeted primary challenge in May and was a star witness at the Jan. 6 hearings in Washington

Despite his refusing to bend to Mr. Trump, Democrats are targeting Mr. Raffensperger in the fall for his support of more restrictive voting laws in the state.


  • Reels video for Solutions Summit Resource guide here


And that’s it from us! If you like our round ups, and Cynthia’s profound advice for a better future, be sure to keep up with us on social, and If you want to help elect more women to office, please consider a gift to RepresentWomen today. 


In the meantime we’ll keep you updated, and informed in the battle for gender balance! 


Have a great and safe weekend! 


PS: Here are our Feminist Mustreads by LBGTQIA authors for the week! Cheers

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