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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation June 8, 2018


Dear friends,
Women now comprise two thirds of the cabinet of the newly-elected government in Spain according to this story in the The New York Times:

Spain’s new prime minister on Wednesday unveiled a government that has more women than men and includes a foreign minister from Catalonia who has led the fight against the region’s independence movement.

After meeting with King Felipe VI, Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez told journalists that his team was “a government for an equal society, open to the world but anchored in the European Union.”

Mr. Sánchez took office after winning a parliamentary vote of no-confidence against former Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose Popular Party was embroiled in a corruption scandal. Mr. Sánchez’s tenure could, however, be short-lived and pave the way for new national elections as his Socialist party has only a quarter of the seats in Parliament.

His first challenge is to keep together his unwieldy alliance with a far-left party and nationalist parties from the Catalonia and Basque regions, which helped him unexpectedly replace Mr. Rajoy as prime minister....

Women stand out in the new government not only in terms of number — heading 11 of the 17 ministries — but also in terms of the importance of their portfolios.

During his two terms as prime minister, Mr. Rajoy formed cabinets in which at most 36 percent of the ministers were women. Mr. Sánchez is leading a cabinet that even surpasses the gender parity achieved by the last Socialist prime minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, in 2004.

Carmen Calvo is the deputy prime minister, and women will also run the two main economics ministries as well as one that combines industry, trade and tourism. The new justice minister is Dolores Delgado, who has been one of the country’s leading prosecutors in the fight against Islamist terrorism. Magdalena Valerio is the labor minister and Carmen Montón is the health minister.

In what he called “a highly qualified” administration, Mr. Sánchez also included two former judges: Fernando Grande-Marlaska will run the Interior Ministry, and Margarita Robles will be in charge of the Defense Ministry. A former astronaut, Pedro Duque, is the science minister.

A Basque politician, Isabel Celaá, takes charge of education. Another Catalan politician, Meritxell Batet, is in charge of regional affairs, which could give her a pivotal role in any negotiation over Catalonia’s future.

​There was another interesting story on BBC News about research that shows that setting a 'concrete floor' is an effective tool to advance women's representation in cabinet offices and on boards - while I fully support challenging executives to pledge to appoint more women - in fact we have a Pledge for Parity on the RepresentWomen website - these floors are not a substitute for quotas but an additional strategy:

Critics were quick to notice the irony of an order on abortion funding being signed by US President Donald Trump as he sat at a desk surrounded by men.

The sense that women are too often cut out of such political decisions prompts scrutiny of the gender of new ministers. And there is frustration when male business leaders claim their female colleagues "don't want" to be on the board.

Often, it is thought quotas are the best way to improve gender equality, but a study of ministerial appointments to governments in seven countries suggests a personal pledge by those in charge may be more important.

In each country we looked at, once the number of women appointed to cabinet reached a certain threshold, it sometimes dipped but rarely fell below that level again.

We call this the "concrete floor" - something that might support women both in politics and business as they attempt to break through the "glass ceiling" we so often hear about.

Our study - which included Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Spain, UK and US - covered the period between the point at which the first female minister was appointed in each country and the end of 2016.

After many decades of exclusion from cabinets, women's presence shot up sharply in some countries.

In Canada, Chile, Germany and Spain an equal number of male and female ministers was seen at least once.

In Australia, the US and the UK, there was also a rise in the number of women ministers, but it happened more slowly and has not risen above about 30%.

In every case one of the biggest forces for change was not a quota, but a pledge from an aspiring prime minister, or president, to improve gender equality.

The first pledge we found came from Bill Clinton. In 1992 he made a campaign promise to appoint a cabinet "that looks like America", and then tripled the share of women in cabinet from 7% to 21%.

In Spain, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero pledged and delivered a parity cabinet in Spain in 2004. Michelle Bachelet appointed a parity cabinet in Chile in 2006, as did Justin Trudeau in Canada in 2015.

In the UK, David Cameron promised in 2008 that a third of ministers would be women in any future government. He didn't deliver this for the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, but the 2015 Tory majority government had 33% women.

For Zapatero, Bachelet and Trudeau, the pledge came from feminist conviction. David Cameron was committed to gender equality although he was also under pressure to make the party more attractive to female voters.

​The much heralded gathering of allies in Canada this weekend offers an opportunity to compare women's representation in the G7 nations. France ranks first due in large part to Macron's decision to implement gender quotas for En Marche while the US ranks second to last due in large part to our antiquated recruitment practices & voting system. Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern that issues relating to gender equality would not get a fair hearing at the summit.
The Washington Post's Amber Phillips had a great wrap-up of key takeaways from this week's primary races in which women candidates continued to win at a higher rate than their male counterparts:

House Democratic candidates in California. Barely: It appears Democrats have avoided disaster in three Orange County-area House races that are critical for their path to taking back the House. Democrats are trying to take over the vulnerable Republican-held seats in November, but they risked falling victim to their own base's enthusiasm by dividing the vote among too many candidates. (In California's primary system, the top two vote-getters move on to the general election regardless of party.) With results mostly in, it looks like Democrats will at least finish second in three races — the 39th, 48th and 49th districts, which is enough for them for today.

But: It's not clear that Washington Democrats will get every candidate they wanted through. And it's still possible, as votes continue to be counted, that Democrats will get locked out of another race in which they had hoped to compete farther up the state, in the 10th District.

Dianne Feinstein: One of the California's longest-serving and best-known politicians demonstrated why experience matters in tricky primary elections. The Democratic senator faced a primary challenger from the left, state Senate President Kevin de Leon, after she urged patience with Trump. But Feinstein pivoted to the left, pitching herself as a leader of the Trump resistance in Washington and managed to switch her position on issues ranging from the death penalty to marijuana legalization without taking too much heat from the base. She ended up winning Tuesday by a wide margin; it's not even clear whether de Leon will make it to the general election.

Senate Republicans: In Montana, Republicans nominated their strongest candidate to try to unseat a well-known Senate Democrat this fall. Republicans nominated State Auditor Matt Rosendale over three others to challenge Sen. Jon Tester. Tester could be one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats running for reelection in a state that Trump won in 2016. Trump made Tester a target earlier this year after Tester helped sink Trump's choice to lead the Department of Veterans Affairs. Having this primary settled is a relief for Senate Republicans, who originally wanted a candidate whom Trump picked to be his secretary of the interior.

Women running for governor: Republican voters in South Dakota, Alabama and Iowa and Democratic voters in New Mexico all nominated women to lead their state next year — and they all have a solid chance of winning. GOP Rep. Kristi L. Noem won her competitive primary in South Dakota and now has a good chance to be the first woman to lead that state, since the seat is open in November and South Dakota is a fairly Republican state. In Alabama, relatively new Gov. Kay Ivey (R) defended her seat from four other GOP challengers. In Iowa, Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) won her primary to try to keep her spot as the first female governor of that state. And in New Mexico, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will be Democrats' nominee to try to flip that open governor's seat from red to blue. It's the most likely to flip in The Fix's most recent rankings.

There was a very interesting opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal about the impact of Pennsylvania's gender equity rule - most states have some version of this rule and have experienced these unintended consequences which is why Maryland democratic state party chair Kathleen Matthews instituted a new set of gender parity rules just this year:
Pennsylvania Democrats have long complained that women are under-represented in state politics. But last month they turned away two women who won election to the Democratic State Committee, giving the positions to men who garnered fewer votes. Believe it or not, Democrats are justifying this decision in the name of gender equity. 

The committee members set the party platform, endorse candidates and develop election strategies throughout the Keystone State. They also raise money and decide how much financial support individual candidates will receive from the party. Presumably to boost the number of women in party leadership, Pennsylvania Democrats have a longstanding rule that “there shall be an equal number of females and males elected” to the state committee.

This year the policy backfired. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Pennsylvania has seen a surge of female candidates for state office. So the Democratic State Committee’s gender-equity rule functioned as an affirmative-action program, working to the benefit of weaker male candidates. In Philadelphia County’s First Senatorial District, male candidates Darrell Clarke and Noam Kugelmass will both occupy state committee seats, though they lost on May 15 by more than a thousand votes to female candidates Judi Golding Baker and Mariel Martin.

Ms. Martin is understandably irked about losing a political post she won fair and square. But instead of insisting that Pennsylvania Democrats honor the will of the electorate, she’s now criticizing the gender-equity rule as discriminatory against transgender, non-binary and gender-fluid candidates. The Democratic Party is sticking with its gender-equity rule, and progressives are raising the same objection as Ms. Martin, so the party may soon try to make up for one injustice caused by quotas by creating more quotas.

Many modern Democrats have fallen so far down the looking glass of identity politics that they even want to overturn the election principle of majority rule.

Ranked Choice Voting was used in the San Francisco mayoral election this week - while the votes are still being counted the closeness of the result is a testament to the strong and mostly positive campaign that all three candidates ran. If London Breed prevails, she will be the city's first elected female African American mayor, If Mark Leno wins it will be in large part because he built such a strong progressive coalition with Jane Kim the majority of whose votes went to Leno. Either result is important because it will reflect the will of a majority of voters which is not the case in so many elections in the US.
The Barbara Lee Family Foundation released new research on the impact of the #MeToo movement on the acceptance of women candidates:

As the national conversation about sexual harassment continues to dominate headlines across the country, it is important that candidates be prepared for questions about this issue on the campaign trail. For women candidates especially, there may be a gendered expectation that they are out front on this subject and, for some, shining a light on sexual harassment may be a personal priority.

This new research from the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, conducted in partnership with Lake Research Partners and Bellwether Consulting, shows that voters respond positively when women candidates on both sides of the aisle talk about sexual harassment in their candidate profiles, and provides insights about candidate messages supporting and questioning the #MeToo movement.

Candidate Profiles and Sexual Harassment

When candidates are introduced to voters in a profile or a statement, they must make a decision about what issues to include; after all, a profile is a first glimpse into a candidate’s priority issues. Traditionally, women candidates have needed to be especially careful when choosing what to incorporate – previous Barbara Lee Family Foundation research has found that women candidates continue to face higher standards than their male counterparts, and that women are punished if they fail to hit the ground running in their campaigns. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, women candidates may be wondering whether to highlight sexual harassment as one of the issues in their profiles.

In this new survey, voters heard sample profiles of fictional Democratic and Republican women candidates, including a control profile that does not mention the issue of sexual harassment at all and a profile that includes sexual harassment as an issue the candidate will address (see appendix A for profiles used). Notably, for both Democratic and Republican women candidates, a profile that pledges to fight sexual harassment is stronger with voters than one that discloses that a candidate feels compelled from personal experience to tackle the issue.

When it comes to voter support on a sample ballot, partisanship remains significant, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. The coalition of voters more likely to support a Republican woman candidate when her profile references sexual harassment is made up of groups that traditionally lean more Republican, and the coalition more likely to support a Democratic woman whose profile mentions sexual harassment is made up of groups that traditionally lean more Democratic. In other words, compared to a control profile that does not mention the issue of sexual harassment, when a woman candidate of either party includes language about fighting sexual harassment in her profile, it increases support among many voting groups who are more inclined to vote for her in the first place. While partisanship is important for many groups, swing Independent women, Latinx voters, and unmarried women are more likely to vote for both the Democratic woman and the Republican woman when their profiles reference fighting sexual harassment.

The Democratic woman candidate and the Republican woman candidate each have a slight advantage in favorability when compared to their male opponents after the control profiles that do not mention sexual harassment. Including a phrase about fighting sexual harassment in the women candidates’ profiles increases voters’ positive perceptions of both the Democratic woman and the Republican woman.

These findings illustrate that for both a Democratic woman candidate and a Republican woman candidate, embedding a commitment to fight against sexual harassment in the candidate’s profile improves her performance in the horserace and increases voters’ positive feelings towards her.

And finally, a number of allies have partnered to support the Courage to Run race that will be held on September 16th in Washington, DC. Use this link to register!
Here's to a building the figurative and literal muscle necessary to win parity in our lifetimes!

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