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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 25, 2018

Stacey Abrams - D GA - first African American female gubernatorial nominee - rsvp for the Higher Heights call with Stacey scheduled for Saturday at 2pm EST

Dear friends,

Four states held primaries/runoffs this week: Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Arkansas. I worked hard in 1989 to elect Douglas Wilder to be the first male Black governor elected in the United States so it's particularly exciting to report that Stacey Abrams won the primary in Georgia and now moves forward to the general election. A win in November would make Abrams the first female Black governor in the US. The New York Times reported on her win and Kelly Dittmar from the Center for American Women & Politics provides yet another terrific summary of election outcomes:

Among the notable results for women in Tuesday’s primaries in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas (primary runoffs):

  • Stacey Abrams (D-GA) and Lupe Valdez (D-TX) secured nominations or governor. Abrams is the first Black women to win a major party nomination for governor in the U.S. and Valdez is the first Latina to win a Democratic nomination for governor; in 2010, New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez (R) became the first Latina to win both a primary and general election to become governor.
  • Of the 17 women who competed for statewide elected executive offices (including governor) in AR, GA, KY, and TX, 10 (58.8%) won their party’s nomination.
    • 14 of 32 (43.8%) women candidates for the U.S. House won (12) or advanced to runoffs (2) in their primary bids for office on May 22nd.
    • 12 of 27 (44.4%) Democratic women won (10) or advanced to runoffs (2).
    • 2 of 5 (40%) Republican women candidates for the U.S. House were successful.
  • By comparison, 50 of 91 (54.9%) male candidates won (48) or advanced to runoffs (2).
    • Among non-incumbents, 41.9% of women and 41.2% men won or advanced to runoffs.
  • Of the 61 U.S. House nominations decided on May 22nd in AR, GA, KY, and TX, 12 (19.7%) were won by women. Women secured 10 of 32 (31.3%) Democratic nominations and 2 of 29 (6.9%) Republican nominations.
    • 2 (2D) women nominees will compete in open seat contests in districts that solidly favor their opponents.
    • 9 (8D, 1R) women nominees will run as challengers to incumbents, with all but 2 running in districts that solidly favor their opponents.
    • There was just 1 incumbent woman – Karen Handel (R-GA) – running for the U.S. House across the 3 states with their first primaries on May 22nd. She was unopposed in her primary bid. If successful in the Democratic nomination runoff, Lucy McBath will challenge Handel in November.
      • No women currently serve in Congress from Arkansas or Kentucky.
  • Of the 26 women nominees for the U.S. House in AR, GA, KY, and TX (including those that secured nominations on March 5th), 11 are women of color, including 5 Latinas, 5 Black women, and 1 Asian American woman.
​The New York State Legislature appointed Barbara Underwood to serve an interim attorney general according to this story in the Wall Street Journal. Underwood is NY's first female AG and the NY Democratic Party just endorsed Tish James (a big proponent of ranked choice voting and a myriad of other good government reforms) according to this story in the Washington Post who will face republican Keith Wofford.

While the conversation in the US stays focused on the rise and fall of individual candidates the focus elsewhere is on rules and systems that are advancing women's representation. Anika Gauja, Fiona Buckley  & Jennifer Curtin wrote a terrific piece for The Conversation about women's representation in Australia and several other nations that inherited Britain's dysfunctional winner take all voting system:

The representation of women amongst Coalition MPs is significantly lower than for Labor or the Greens, and this gap is growing. This is concerning because parliaments should be reflective of the societies they represent. The Coalition should be worried because it coincides with a declining number of women voting for it.

This partisan gender gap is also reflected in other Westminster parliamentary democracies such as the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Ireland.

Typically, leftist, green and social democratic parties nominate a higher percentage of female candidates than centre-right, conservative and far right parties.

Quotas make a big impact in Ireland

While the Liberals may resist gender quotas, they cannot ignore the overwhelming evidence that quotas increase the numbers of women in politics.

The gender quota law in Ireland was adopted in 2012. This was partly in response to calls for political reform and greater diversity in public leadership following the financial crash and ensuing recession of 2008 - 2013. But it was also designed to intervene where political parties had failed.

While political parties in Ireland had given rhetorical support for more women in politics throughout the 2000s, their actions, particularly in the long established and centre-right parties of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, told a different story. Informal gender targets were missed; in the general elections of 2002, 2007 and 2011, Fianna Fáil selected just 13% women candidates, and Fine Gael 16% (the figure for the centre-left Labour was 25%).

Following the 2011 general election, just 15% of the seats in the Irish lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann, were occupied by women. With election surveys and analysis showing women did not face discrimination at the hands of the electorate, it was clear women’s political under-representation lay at the door of political parties.

If Irish political parties could not be trusted to ensure gender equity, it was clear an interventionist measure in the shape of gender quotas was required. The 2012 gender quota law specifies that political parties must select at least 30% female candidates and at least 30% male candidates; if they do not, they will forfeit 50% of their annual public funding.

The impact and success of the law was immediate. In its first roll-out at the 2016 general election, there was a 90% increase in women’s candidacy and a 40% increase in the number of women elected. All parties met the 30% gender quota threshold.

Electoral systems matter too

In New Zealand, with the adoption the German model of proportional representation (Mixed Member Proportional, MMP) in 1996 there was a significant increase in the selection and election of women.

Women constituted 28.3% of the new 120-member parliament, but most were elected from minor parties. Then, in 2005, for the first time, the percentage of women parliamentarians surpassed 30% (reaching 33.1%), with 19 Labour women and 12 National women sitting in parliament, supplemented by eight women from the minor parties. There are now 19 National women in parliament (33.9%). The Greens outshine both major parties with a caucus that is 75% female, the result of a long-held practice of alternating men and women on their party lists.

One reason why National has done better than conservative parties elsewhere maybe a result of a contagion effect, which is more likely to appear in proportional systems. Contagion occurs when a small party (such as the Greens) stimulates other (larger) parties (such as Labour) to nominate more women candidates.

In doing so, the smaller parties highlight the lack of electoral penalty associated with selecting women candidates, while also threatening to take at least some votes from the largest party closest to them on the political spectrum.

Once a large party begins to nominate more women, the nature of party competition will ensure that other parties (National), out of political necessity, adopt their own gender equality strategies.

​And from the Law Society of Scotland comes this blog about quotas/targets that is well worth reading:

Over the last few years there has been increasing discussion of how professions get progression right for all of their employees. Are we getting it right in Scots law? It seems that the so-called tipping point of 30% isn’t quite being reached across the legal professions. Wherever we look, be it partners, solicitor advocate, advocates, QCs, sheriffs, and senators the percentage of women holding that senior title is always below 30%. Given women have outnumbered men at entrance to the solicitor profession for over 20 years this doesn’t easily stack up. So what is to be done? Should we leave progress to inevitability? Or should we act? And if so, how?

Let’s start with a controversial option to get the debate going: quotas. The concept of quotas is hardly a new one but is generally considered contentious. People tend to be for or against but the thing is: nuance isn’t our enemy and complexity is not a vice.

Quotas are no longer some minority belief or only aired by feminist campaign groups which the mainstream can ignore. Rather quotas are a mainstream view. Supporters include Christine Lagarde (the managing director of the IMF and formerly chair of Baker & Mackenzie); Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook; Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault-Nissan; Jayne-Anne Gadhia, the CEO of Virgin Money (and author of a major report into equality into financial services), and David Isaac, the chair of the Equality & Human Rights Commission and a partner at Pinsent Masons. These are men and women at the very highest end of business.

The arguments against are well-known. If a woman is appointed under a quota-based system, so the line goes, she would never know if she got the position because she was the best person for the role or if she got it simply because of her gender. Moreover, others may perceive that any woman who achieved success did so because of the quota: whether that is true or not. Fundamentally there is a belief that quotas are anti-meritocratic. (Geeky note: The man who coined the term meritocracy did so as a satire and bemoaned its widespread adoption as an inherent good)....

Do quotas or targets lead to tokenism?

Quotas have been introduced at national level across Europe. Norway obliged listed companies to reserve 40% of their director seats for women. A company could be dissolved if they failed to comply. In Belgium, France and Italy firms that fail to comply with a state gender quota for boards can be fined, dissolved, or banned from paying existing directors. Germany and others have preferred ‘soft’ quotas with no sanctions.

Results have been mixed: some anti-quota fears in Norway have not been realised. There had been a concern of the lack of suitably qualified women leading to so-called ‘’golden skirts’’ (e.g. women sitting on multiple boards due to a lack of available talent). Overboarding is an issue but that is the case for men too and is a problem in countries without such mechanisms. Moreover, it seems perverse to argue that we need more women in senior ranks but then to explain that one of the difficulties in getting there is that there a lack of women with senior experience!

The worries about ‘tokenism’ too have been largely unfounded. There are examples of tokenism: LVMH appointing Bernadette Chirac, the wife of Jacque Chirac, and noting they did so as she liked fashion seems particularly egregious, but women added to LVMH’s board since that point have all either CEO or director experience. In Italy, female directors of the biggest firms were more likely to have professional qualifications than their pre-quota predecessors.

The most famous study in this area is the McKinsey’s ‘Why Diversity Matters’ which showed companies in the top quartile for gender and ethnic diversity are more likely to have financial returns above the industry median. Similar reports have been published by the CBI and CIPD. The correlation seems to suggest that when companies commit themselves to a diverse leadership, they get better results. Great minds don’t think alike. Proving causation rather than correlation is difficult though: perhaps better managed companies have wider scope to promote diversity?

I once saw the General Counsel of Vodafone answer the question: were quotas to be deprecated or were they necessary? She noted that quotas were definitely to be deprecated but, importantly, they were absolutely necessary. Perhaps.

On a personal level, I am probably against but would prefer something akin to The Rooney Rule. The Rooney Rule  is a policy from American Football which requires teams interview ethnic minority candidates for senior coaching roles. This isn’t a quota. It does guarantee some people from an ethnic minority background at least get an interview. From 1920 to 2003, there had been seven coaches from an ethnic minority of NFL teams. Since then there have been 18 many of whom have held multiple roles. Most of the profession will have a view on progression, how do get it right and on quotas or targets.


​And from Kuala Lumpur comes a news story about a well-organized movement pushing for a 30% target for women's representation according to this story in the Star Online where 6.400 citizens, in over just nine days, have signed a letter demanding a minimum of 30% women's representation:

If the Cabinet will have 25 ministries, as proposed by the Pakatan Harapan government, at least eight ministers should be women.

So said women’s rights groups and their allies, who assembled at Istana Negara on Monday morning to peacefully picket for 30% women representation in the Cabinet.

The gathering at Gate 2, which was organised by the Joint Action Group for Gender Equality (JAG), called on Pakatan Harapan to fulfil its promise of minimum 30% representation at the highest policy-making body in Malaysia.

Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower) executive director Angela M. Kuga Thas said 30% is needed because women have very different experiences and perspectives of what development solutions require.

“Women are known to have pushed for child-friendly policies, the Domestic Violence Act 1994, and the recent Sexual Offences Against Children Act 2017.

“We need women to be at the decision-making table to bring the different perspectives of their lived realities,” she said.

According to Angela, this was also promised in 1998 by the then Barisan Nasional government.

At the time, Tan Sri Zaleha Ismail said Malaysia would have a minimum of 30% women in Cabinet and in all decision-making levels in Government within seven years.

Two decades on, this has yet to become a reality.

Sisters in Islam executive director Rozana Isa also questioned just how much women’s issues are put front and centre by the Cabinet, except when pressed.

“If women’s issues aren’t more actively and aggressively prioritised at the parliamentary level … then I feel women and their rights will be left far behind.

“What we’re asking for is just the minimum 30%,” she said.

​The New York Stock Exchange selected its first female president this week according to this story on NBCNews -

Stacey Cunningham made history Friday when she became the first female president of the New York Stock Exchange in the institution’s 226-year history.

Cunningham — who began her career with the exchange as a 19-year-old intern in 1994 — said she was touched when colleagues said she was an example for their own daughters. She also acknowledged women who had paved the way for her rise, and the work that remained to be done in a traditionally male-dominated industry.

“I do look forward to a day when a woman taking a job isn’t newsworthy,” Cunningham told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie. “But we aren’t quite there yet.”

Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, said Cunningham’s appointment should serve as a reminder that more still needs to be done for women to achieve parity in finance and other male-dominated fields. “A single appointment does not totally destroy longtime practices and approaches but it does signal that there’s a real opportunity,” she said. “Disrupting the boys’ club culture is a good thing. This could be an opportunity to begin that.”
Emma Keeling offers this message on Stuff about the movement for women's equality - while her focus is the sports industry the message is very much the same for those striving for equality in other arenas:

It's OK, you can stop now. Women are winning sports journalism awards, commentating on men's sport and in some cases, getting paid to play sport. No need for any more collective bargaining agreements either. Sports media is saturated with women's sport so we can stop putting energy into this gender balance thing. Go home and get your wives, mothers, sisters and daughters to cook some eggs.  

It may seem to some of you that because we are talking about equality so much and seeing more women in our sports pages, that we've addressed the uneven playing field. I mean, suddenly women are EVERYWHERE! It's almost as if they're half the world's population??!

Please remain calm and stay in your seats. It may feel like a group of women's libbers have stormed sports desks around the country, interrupting important groin-adjusting time but only because we're not used to seeing women talk about and play sport other than netball and the Olympics. 

If you're struggling now I will have to drop the oxygen masks because women's representation in all areas of our sporting lives will continue to increase. Instead of those women ruining what was a great little one-sided game, they will breathe new life into it, like Richie McCaw in a ruck.

This week Football Fern Sarah Gregorius wrote of her pride at the new collective bargaining agreement, meaning our male and female reps would be treated as equals. I wasn't surprised when she revealed some people were annoyed, angry even that the women would now get first-class travel like the All Whites, with their support. I too am outraged women aren't better at playing for their pro club before getting on a long-haul flight, training for a couple of days and being at their best for an international. 
I found a fascinating story on Cision: PR Newswire about bold new work in the private sector to advance women's representation:

EMPEA, the global industry association for private capital in emerging markets, has today announced the formation of the association's first industry initiative aimed at addressing the gender gap in emerging market private equity: the EMPEA Gender Parity Acceleration Working Group. The Working Group was launched at the IFC's 20th Anniversary Global Private Equity Conference in association with EMPEA convening almost 900 investors from across the globe this week in Washington. A key barrier that remains in the industry is the lack of gender parity. Women remain heavily underrepresented, while studies indicate that financial performance of companies is correlated to diversity.

The EMPEA Gender Parity Acceleration Working Group will leverage the convening power of the organization's 300 member firms, including both general partners and limited partners, who invest in more than 130 countries worldwide and represent over US$5 trillion in assets. Leaders from EMPEA member firms International Finance Corporation (IFC), Cartica Management, LLC, and LeapFrog Investments called for action in this conference's milestone year to address key diversity issues that continue to challenge the industry and to identify next steps to achieve gender parity.

According to Preqin's October 2017 Women in Alternative Assets Report, women represent just 18% of all employees at private equity firms, and hold less than 10% of all senior positions. Across alternatives, the total number of women in the private equity sector, as well as women holding mid and senior roles represent the lowest of the asset class.

In a poll conducted by IFC and EMPEA, the majority of respondents indicated their firms were actively undertaking initiatives to address gender equality. However, there was an overwhelming concern over the low number of women in both leadership roles in portfolio companies and the investment pipeline. The gender parity issue at the leadership level was further compounded by the widely held belief that structural aspects of the investment sourcing and diligence process disadvantaged senior women.

​There has been some very good coverage of ranked choice voting as Maine and San Francisco prepare for elections in early June. NBCNews covered the use of RCV in Maine while Lee Drutman had a piece on Vox and Larry Diamond had a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle in response to that paper's relentless efforts to undermine RCV. My husband, Rob Richie, will be on NPR's 1a on Tuesday morning May 29 talking about election reform and ranked choice voting.
We are in the thick of graduation season - my son graduated last weekend and I know many young people are marking the end of the their undergraduate careers this weekend. Two memorable speeches came from Abby Wambach who spoke to the graduating class at Barnard College and Hillary Clinton who spoke to the graduating class at Yale. And Cokie Roberts spoke to National Public Radio about the history of women in politics - you can listen in here.

And finally, Apolitical named the Top 100 people working for Gender Equality - congratulations to the terrific allies who made the list including Nan Sloane, Heidi Hartmann, Laura Liswood, Gwen Young, & Victoria Budson, see the full list here.

Have a great weekend!


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