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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 16, 2016


Dear all,

One of the most widely-shared stories this week was this one from the Washington Post that reflects on the role of women staffers in the White House and how they have helped to 'amplify' the voices of their colleagues - changing norms through example...

The atmosphere has changed considerably in Obama’s second term. Many of the original players have moved on. Today, Obama’s closest aides — the ones who sit in the 7:30 a.m. meeting and earn the top White House salary of $176,461 a year — are equally divided between men and women. Overall, the average man still earns about 16 percent more than the average woman. But half of all White House departments — from the National Security Council to the Office of Legislative Affairs — are headed by women.

Andrea Dew Steele, Founder and President of Emerge America had a terrific piece in Huffington Post on all that they have accomplished - 330 Emerge graduates will be on the ballot this November (!) - and the work that remains. I had the pleasure of meeting with Andrea in San Francisco this very week!


The Center for American Women and Politics released a tally of general election candidates who are women - see their press release for details - and this sobering teaser:

While history is being made in 2016 by Hillary Clinton as the first female major party presidential nominee, there is little progress for women further down the ballot. Numbers of nominees for the Senate and House are close to past levels, with 168 women nominated for the U.S. House of Representatives and 16 for the Senate.
The Swedish government proposed new legislation for gender quotas on corporate boards - while the percentage of women serving on boards is 32% in Sweden there is concern that the pace of change is too slow:

The proposal would impose penalties on companies not having achieved corporate boards composed of at least 40% women by 2019, Omni reports. So far there is no indication the law would concern itself with genders outside of the male-female dichotomy.The law would affect 280 companies listed in Sweden and about 50 state-run companies,

Here is a good resource from Catalyst on the positive impact of women on corporate boards
in the US and another from Maritz Africa on new research from McKinsey & Co on women on corporate boards in Africa:

African companies with boards that are at least one-quarter female experience, on average, 20% higher earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) than the industry average.
Open Democracy ran an interesting piece on women's representation in Great Britain by Sarah Childs entitled The Problem of Women and Politics Has Not Gone Away - the United States inherited her winner-takes-all, single winner district voting system from Britain a few centuries ago - both countries are long overdue for a switch to the multi winner districts with proportional voting that contribute to the electoral success in the 95 countries that rank above the US.

I have shared Sarah Childs' Good Parliament Report before but I think it is worth a careful review - Representation2020's systemic reforms to win parity fit right into this set of strategies:

Informed by the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s framework of a gender-sensitive parliament, the report makes 43 recommendations addressing three dimensions: (i) Equality of Participation in the House — ensuring a diverse composition of MPs and achieving equality of participation amongst MPs once elected; (ii) Parliamentary Infrastructure — how parliament organises itself and supports the work of members; and (iii) Commons Culture — making this more inclusive.

Sally's List is working to elect women candidates in Oklahoma - which ranks 48th in women's representation in the legislature - 10 Sally's List trained women will be on the ballot this November. Representation2020 ranks Oklahoma 18th for progress toward parity on its Gender Parity Index which also factors in local, statewide, and federal representation. Sally's List is holding a Move the Needle fundraiser in OKC on September 29th - if you can't be there I bet they would appreciate a contribution!

Rose Mofford died this week. In 1988 she became the first woman to serve as governor of Arizona when, as secretary of state, she completed the term of Evan Mecham after he was suspended and impeached. Since then, Arizona has had three woman governors: Republicans Jane Dee Hull and Jan Brewer and Democrat Janet Napolitano. Napolitano is the only woman in history to be elected governor to succeed another female governor
Notably, this year will not change that history, as New Hampshire governor Maggie Hassan will be replaced by one of two men nominated by the Democratic and Republican parties this week. In fact, of 24 major party nominees for governor on the ballot this November, 22 are men -- the only exceptions are Oregon governor Kate Brown, who is favored to win re-election, and Vermont Democratic nominee Sue Minter, who is in a toss-up race in Vermont. At best, there will be six women governors out of 50 next year, with three of them (Republicans Mary Fallin of Oklahoma, Nikki Haley of South Carolina, and Susana Martinez of New Mexico) facing term limits in 2018.

The Washington Post amplified the stats of women's under-representation with this story and image:

I wonder if it's time to switch the rhetoric and adopt the term "men's over-representation" - not sure that's a winner but it is accurate.

According to Time Melinda Gates is urging the UN to focus on women's equality - increased women's representation in the U.S. Congress is key to her success - it's time for the Gates Foundation and other funders to recognize the connection between reflective democracy in the U.S. and policy decisions that impact women and girls in other countries. Chaining ourselves to the doors of the Gates Foundation may be a little premature but I think a social media strategy connecting the composition of Congress to the health and well-being of women and girls around the globe may be in order? Any takers?

And I hope you will consider sharing the trailer for Equal Means Equal - it looks like a great movie. And tune into PBS's To the Contrary!
Fifty two days until the election,

P.S. Sign up now for Next Gen Women in Politics: Voting to Running event on Tuesday, September 27th - cosponsored by Spark and IGNITE!

And finally this,

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