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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 28, 2016


Dear friends,

I'll start with a brief election update though many of you who are on the ground in states may have a better sense of how state and federal races are unfolding.

The race for president has been anything but predictable but Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight election forecast projects that Hillary Clinton has an 81.2% chance of winning. Regardless of your political perspective I think we can agree that it will be a relief when this campaign comes to an end.

In the tally for women governors, Kate Brown is favored to retain her governor's seat in Oregon, while the latest polls in Vermont show that the race is a tossup between Democrat Sue Minter and Republican Phil Scott. If Minter wins, women will keep their same number of governor seats - 6 out of 50. Looking ahead to 2018, three Republican woman governors will leave office due to term limits: Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, Nikki Haley in South Carolina, and Susannah Martinez in New Mexico. Rhode Island's Gina Raimondo (D) is expected to face a highly competitive re-election. In other words, without some intentional focus on recruiting and backing women candidates, the number of women governors may in fact decrease by 2019.
Women are involved in a number of close U.S. Senate races. The ones where women face men in seats that would result in a gain for women in the Senate are in Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. A woman is guaranteed to replace Barbara Boxer in California, while New Hampshire's hotly contested Senate seat will continue to be held by a woman. Women incumbents who are heavily favored are Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Washington's Patty Murray. Women major party challengers who are not favored to win are running in Iowa, Maryland (in seat now held by Barbara Mikulski), and Utah. A woman has a longshot in the wide-open Louisiana Senate race where all candidates run in November, with a top-two runoff in December. When the dust settles, women are likely to at least maintain their current number of 20 seats and possibly pick up as many as three, with Republicans holding four or five of those seats and Democrats the rest.
The Center for American Women and Politics is tracking the latest analysis of women in the 2016 elections for House and statewide executive offices and state legislative racesBALLOTPEDIA is also a great resource for understanding what's going on in states as is OpenSecrets which is a great resource on campaign spending. I'll be watching closely to see if women can finally top the 25% mark in state legislative seats -- more than two decades after the "year of the woman" in 1992 brought women up to 21% of state legislative seats.

Gender Avenger and Presidential Gender Watch continue to track the amount of time given to women commentators and coverage of the presidential race through a gender lens.

There was an excellent story in the New York Times that discusses the reality that women's voices are not heard fully or frequently enough - I suspect the story will resonate with many of you. There was another story in the New York Times on the theme that when women run they win - this familiar analysis short cuts the complexity of both the problem and the solution. While I am completely supportive of efforts to ask more women to run that alone will not get us to parity in our lifetimes. Gatekeepers must be challenged to set targets for the women candidates they recruit and support, voting systems that disadvantage women must be replaced, and internal legislative rules that hold women back must be reformed. These structural strategies have been successful in the 95 countries that rank above the US in women's representation.
Teen Vogue ran an inspirational story on "10 Female Politicians Who Broke Glass Ceilings" and the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard's Kennedy School featured a study by Jessica Preece of Brigham Young University on how political parties can affect the "supply and demand of women candidates" - I look forward to seeing more of this type of research to ground strategies for intentional actions by parties, PACs, and donors to recruit more women candidates to run.

Keesha Gaskins shared this impressive report on work to Advance Native Political Leadership:

Native American representation in elected leadership positions in federal, state and local
offices is severely lacking, though some candidates have been successful despite all odds.
At the federal level, Native Americans have held the offices of one vice president, eight House
representatives and two Senators. Of those, 100 percent were male.

A'Shanti Gholar, political director of Emerge America had a great piece entitled "Black Women Should Be More Than Voters"

It's time to stop thinking of Black women as just an important electorate and start thinking of them as both an important electorate and a pool of potential candidates.


Another super important piece - written by Jean Card in US News and World Report - discusses the need for more republican women to run:

Do not abandon your party. Not yet. Make your party better by becoming a party leader. Because you are qualified. You are a leader. You know your heart, your mind, your body and what all three, together, are capable of. You know that Republicans may have nominated a pig, but they can also dig a woman (from Margaret Thatcher to Sarah Palin).

I will leave you with this poignant piece by Julia Gillard - the former prime minister of Australia - which she wrote to commemorate the life and work of Jo Cox, the MP from the UK who was murdered earlier this year. It's a powerful statement that pulls together the many strands of our collective work for women's equality.

10 days and counting,


P.S. And finally, I bet a number of you may have seen this story on women in Iceland striking for pay equity on the anniversary of the first - very successful - strike on October 24th, 1975.

And this from Mountain Girl Silver - one of my favorite spots for gifts...

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