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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 28, 2022

Dear readers --

From releasing our newest research report to preparing for the election, the team and I have been busy this week! With midterms right around the corner, here's a quick look at what election outcomes RepresentWomen will be tracking.


Our 100 Cites Report is Live!

Today, women make up just over half of the U.S. population but less than one-third of all elected positions. Even as we celebrate new records for women in politics in 2022, most elections remain structurally biased and fundamentally uncompetitive, limiting opportunities for women to run and win office. That's why we're excited to share our latest research release, Women’s Representation and the Twin-Track Ecosystem in the 100 Largest Cities. This report presents a direct follow-up to our New York City report, “Why Women Won in 2021.” 

Here, we expand upon and re-evaluate our findings by researching 1) women’s representation in the next-largest cities in the U.S., and 2) which of the factors we observed in NYC are also present in these cities. The report concludes with a list of guiding takeaways, aimed at change-makers who are interested in bringing the best practices and strategies that worked in New York City to other major cities.

New Zealand's Parliament Now Majority Women

New Zealand now ranks first for women's representation among OECD countries.

On Tuesday, New Zealand achieved a historical milestone for gender balance in government. For the first time in the country's history, women now make up a majority of parliament. New Zealand uses a mixed-proportional voting system, plus the Green party of Aotearoa and the Labour party both have voluntary quotas. This nation is a primary example of how gender quotas for political partiesranked choice voting and proportional voting systems help elect more women.

Soraya Peke-Mason from the liberal Labour Party was sworn into Parliament on Tuesday, replacing former Speaker Trevor Mallard, who left to become ambassador to Ireland. With the resignation of another male lawmaker, it has tipped the balance in Parliament to 60 women and 59 men...

The milestone places New Zealand among a half-dozen nations in the world that this year can claim at least 50% female representation in their parliaments, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union. Other nations include Cuba, Mexico, Nicaragua, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates...

“I’m just really pleased that my daughters are growing up in a country where women being equally represented in public life is just normal,” said Nicola Willis, the deputy leader of the conservative National Party.

My husband, Rob Richie, and I were invited to New Zealand in 1993 to help campaign for the mixed member proportional system which replaced the antiquated winner take all system that NZ - and the United States -- inherited from the UK. Witnessing a nation change its voting system was inspiring, and grounds our understanding of how electoral change happens. RepresentWomen supports the adoption of forms of proportional ranked choice voting at all levels of government to increase opportunities for women to run & win. Reps Don Beyer, Jamie Raskin, Teresa Leger Fernandez & others are co-sponsors of the Fair Representation Act for House elections that will increase women's representation in Congress AND end gerrymandering, ensure partisan fairness, and enable multiple communities of color to elect candidates of choice.

Where Are the Women Leaders?

The graphics team at GZERO created this map of where women are holding national leadership positions in the wake of the sudden departure of Liz Truss as prime minister of the UK:

Liz Truss is the shortest-serving PM in British history, but women heads of state and government across the world seem to be doing just fine. Some have yet to prove themselves — like Giorgia Meloni, who was sworn in Saturday as prime minister after riding a far-right election victory in Italy. Others have been at it for years, such as Sheikh Hasina, who’s provided stability that has given once-poor Bangladesh the highest GDP per capita ratio in South Asia. We list the world’s 18 female incumbents with executive authority and popular mandates to serve.

Women of Color are Reimagining Democracy

"The program was my ticket to run a people-powered campaign," Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said of the Democracy Vouchers Program. Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

Democracy Rising co-founder Maria Perez had a great piece in The Fulcrum on the role of women of color in the work for building a stronger, more reflective, democracy:

For almost 250 years, white men have led the design, implementation and reform of American democracy, and, frankly, it is not working well for many of us. Women represent a slight majority of the U.S. population, and, according to the Brookings Institution, people of color will constitute a majority of the population by 2045. Isn’t it time for people of color, and particularly women of color, to take the lead in re-imagining what a truly multiracial and multicultural democracy can look like?

In 2020, I co-founded Democracy Rising. We support impacted communities who are working to transform democracy at a local level. I’ve seen firsthand how transformative it is when women of color lead reform. We can do democracy differently, and, when we do, we can reshape who participates in the political process, who runs for office and ultimately who wins elections, which in turn can lead to policies that better serve our communities.

Why focus on the local level? Because smaller communities are better positioned to experiment around reforms and initiatives, and are able to course correct more nimbly than at the state or federal level. Effective democratic reform is happening at the local level; it is where the hands-on work of re-imagining democracy is being done, and it is largely getting done by women – particularly women of color.

AP Photo/Mark Thiessen, File

FILE – Brochures are displayed at the Alaska Division of Elections office on Jan. 21, 2022 in Anchorage, Alaska, detailing changes to elections this year. Alaska’s races will unfold in the overhauled ranked-choice system. The system had its inaugural election this summer when Democrat Mary Peltola made history by becoming the first Alaska Native to serve in the House and the first woman to win Alaska’s sole congressional seat.

I had an essay in The Hill this week on the state or women's representation in the United States as we approach the midterm elections and the impact of ranked choice voting on outcomes for women:

This November, 25 women — 16 Democrats and nine Republicans — are on the ballot for governor; a new record in U.S. history. While this is a milestone worth celebrating, at this rate, it’s going to take more than 30 years of record breaking to achieve gender balance in American politics.

That’s because despite recent milestones, the U.S. is moving at a slower pace towards gender parity in the federal government compared to the international scale. The United States now ranks 70 along with Lithuania out of 193 countries for the representation of women. More importantly, the U.S. ranks 37th among democratic allies in the 38 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development nations. But even our peak of ranking 46th in 2000 says a lot about how far we still have to go.

The outlook is mirrored in RepresentWomen’s Gender Parity Index, which we created to study representation of women across federal, state, and local offices in all 50 states. We found that in spite of women making up half of the U.S. population, women still make up less than one-third of all elected officeholders. According to the Center for Women in Politics, 30 percent of all women in elected office are women of color.

Union Institutions Finalize a Directive to Put More Women on Company Boards

This week, Evelyn Regner, an Austrian MEP, a vice-president of the European Parliament, and former chair of its Women's Rights and Gender Equality Committee, reported on their recent success in finalizing an EU-wide directive for gender balance on member state's corporate boards. Why such a focus on EU-wide legislation? In her article 'Ten years for a small but important step for women,' Evelyn says the data shows that systems strategies and legislative measures are what truly drive transformational change.

Representation of women in corporate leadership is improving, but progress remains slow and there are significant differences among member states. In 2021, around 30 per cent of non-executive board members of the largest listed companies in the EU were women. The pace has slowed considerably since 2016 and in seven countries women still make up less than one-fifth of all non-executive board members. In about one-fifth of companies, non-executive boards are still exclusively male, including more than half the companies in Estonia, Cyprus and Hungary.

The data show one thing above all: legislative measures to redress the gender imbalance in economic decision-making are driving progress. In October 2021, the proportion of women on the boards of the largest listed companies in countries with national gender quotas was 36.4 per cent, compared with 30.3 per cent in countries with less strong measures and only 16.6 per cent in countries with no measures at all. Quotas have more than tripled the rate of change, to now 2.9 percentage points per year. Progress in countries without legal measures is only 0.7 percentage points per year.

Giving the Women Scientists the Recognition They Deserve

Jess Wade, 33, a British physicist, spends her spare time writing Wikipedia biographies for women and minority scientists. (Courtesy of Jess Wade)

I loved seeing this article from The Washington Post about Jess Wade, a British scientist who has written 1,750 Wikipedia entries for women scientists:

On a whim, Jess Wade typed out her first Wikipedia page five years ago. It was a biography of Kim Cobb, an American climatologist who — despite earning several scientific accolades — had never been written about on the popular online encyclopedia.

“I met her at a science event, and I was massively impressed,” said Wade, 33, a British physicist, who, after a quick search online, was stunned to see that Cobb had no profile on the public platform.

Wade had stumbled into something she found troubling: Cobb was one of countless deserving women whose names — and lengthy list of achievements — had yet to be chronicled on Wikipedia, the go-to site for an estimated 2 billion people a month who are seeking information about individuals, ideas and topics large and small.

Wikipedia is “used by pretty much everyone,” Wade said. She realized that “despite it being this incredibly important resource, it was suffering from a lack of content, particularly about women, but also about people of color.”

Baking this week included a carrot cake for a dear friend decorated with garden flowers!

We are making a 2023 planner of women leaders so let me know if you would like to order one -- or more -- using this form!

That's all for this week my friends,



P.S. Did you see the interview I did with the Apolitical Foundation? I discussed ranked choice voting, the systems strategies that will strengthen our democracy, and what has been inspiring me recently!

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