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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation May 27, 2016

Dear all,
The Washington Post waded into the thorny topic of gender bias in politics this week with a piece by Danny Hayes and Jennifer Lawless which draws from their new book Women on the Run: Gender, Media, and Political Campaigns in a Polarized Era.

The authors conclude their piece with these words:
Because of that perception (of gender bias), many women think that they’d need, as the saying goes, to be twice as good to get half as far as men. And researchers have shown that that discourages them from running for office.
If our new book can change that misperception, perhaps it can help close the political gender gap.
Perhaps just as important, we hope our findings can educate party leaders, donors and activists who recruit candidates and help them raise funds. Female candidates will face no more difficulties on the campaign trail than will the men these political networks have traditionally encouraged to run.

Erin Loos Cutraro, founder of She Should Run begins her blog in Huffington Post with these words:

Like many Americans I’m watching this year’s election process with a mix of disbelief and concern. While the increasingly ugly nature of our politics threatens to turn off many voters from participation, it also could dissuade many future leaders from ever pursuing office themselves. This is especially true for women, who are already vastly underrepresented at all levels of government. I’m reminded of research from the Girl Scouts Research Institute that found a the majority of girls already believe that men are more likely than women to be encouraged to pursue a career in politics and run for office, win an election, and be taken seriously as a politician.

There is a lot of work to be done to build a future where girls see themselves in positions of leadership as frequently as boys and men do - we must be intentional and strategic to undo centuries of accumulated bias.


As is true every week, there were a number of articles on the impact of gender quotas of one form or another. Representation2020's position is that intentional recruitment tools - whether they are voluntary (as we are proposing for the United States) or mandatory (like those employed in over 100 nations) or those encouraged by EDGE for businesses - are a means to achieve parity, not an end in themselves. Oliver Staley wrote a piece in Quartz entitled "You Know Those Quotas for Female Board Members in Europe? They're Working" that confirms that the business world is making progress.

A study published in the Journal of Politics by Tiffany Barnes and Abby Cordova examines "Citizen Support for Legislative Gender Quotas in Latin America" and provides interesting fodder for further discussion on the implementation of gender quotas. The authors argue that:

Gender quotas have been adopted in over a hundred countries in an effort to address gender disparities in national legislatures. Yet the determinants of citizen support for gender quota policies remain largely understudied. We develop a theory that emphasizes the impact of institutional performance and political values to explain citizen support for gender quotas and how these two factors differentially influence men’s and women’s quota support...we find that citizens in countries with relatively good governance quality who express a strong preference for government involvement to improve citizens’ well-being show the highest levels of quota support...good governance quality reduces the gender gap in quota support by substantially increasing men’s support for quotas.

An study published in 2012 by Sarah Shair-Rosefield explores the "The Alternate Incumbency Effect: Electing Women Legislators in Indonesia" and makes a strong argument that:

Although incumbency's typical effect is to inhibit female electoral success by advantaging traditional (male) competitors, I argue that women benefited largely from an alternative effect: female incumbency can improve female candidate placement and electability by demonstrating female capacity and capability. Female newcomers benefited strongly from the presence of female incumbents in their own and bordering districts, thus suggesting a positive diffusion effect of female incumbency.

Last week the New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she would consider a quota to up the number of women on the NYC Council - as reported in the Observer News and Politics sections by Will Bredderman. Mark-Viverito was quoted as saying:

I would definitely look at it. I don’t think why we shouldn’t consider that. It’s been successful in other countries, and why can’t we learn, right, from others?” We don’t have all the answers, clearly hasn’t been working for us, so we should take a look at how it has functioned and succeeded in other areas, and learn from that.

Just today Angela Eagle (British parliamentarian) wrote a very interesting piece in The Guardian on women's involvement in European Union politics while a piece in The Globe and Mail reports that women's groups are working together to push the Liberal government to adopt proportional representation voting systems because:

Proportional representation is considered by some experts to be the best way to increase the number of women and other minorities in the House of Commons.

And finally, a story in The Tico Times by L. Arias, reports on renewed efforts to reach gender parity in Costa Rico through new party rules that will go into effect in 2018 - I am very interested in discussing these and other ideas with political parties here in the United States - they have a big role to play in electing more women.

All the best for a fabulous weekend,


P.S. Remember to tune into Bonnie Erbe's To The Contrary for an exceptional round up of topics related to women!

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