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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 1, 2017


Dear friends,
A little light reading for the holiday weekend from my marvelous daughter Anna Richie who wrote a piece comparing the number of years women have served as monarchs (4,990) versus the number of years women have served as elected or appointed heads of state (469). If you are curious about the data you can browse her spreadsheet but do read her blog - while not an all-out call to return to the monarchy it's an interesting perspective on women leaders over time and a good fall-back strategy if all else fails.
Heather Wolf sent along two links this week including:
  • this one from The Oxford Times about efforts to recognize the contributions of British suffragists with statues in London and in Oxford where a march for suffrage took place in 1912 and
  • this one from Huff Post titled "Failure is Impossible" about the convergence of the anniversary of the 19th amendment and hurricane Harvey - reminding readers about the impact that women legislators have had on pressing for climate change related legislation and asking what will they do now to prepare for the storms to come.​ The article cites an important report from Rachel's Network that found that “women legislators vote for environmental protections more often than their male counterparts in both the House and Senate...We found that women in Congress vote for legislation supporting clean air, clean water, renewable energy, climate action, and public health much more often than their male counterparts (and similarly vote more often against legislation that would roll back these protections).”

My helpful hubby forwarded this article from The Zimbabwean about women in Zimbabwe who are 'frustrated' by their share of seats in parliament - which is a staggering 46% - illustrating that quotas and voting systems have a huge impact on women's representation - even if not fully successful:

The Women Parliamentary Caucus  chairperson Monica Mutsvangwa has said electoral systems in Zimbabwe continue to be male-dominated, focusing more on competition than gender balancing. She said: “Political parties continue to be dominated by men and therefore proportional representation is the most likely tool that will see an increase in women legislators.”

Mutsvangwa added that political parties were still primarily male-dominated and women were socially discriminated against.

Zimbabwe has failed to meet the Sadc 50% quota for women in top positions including Parliament.

There were several stories about how women are faring in city elections including this one from Ebony about Yvette Simpson who could be Cincinnati's first black female mayor - I will note that Cincinnati's first black male mayor - Ted Berry - was elected in a ranked voting system in the 1970s - becoming the first black mayor elected in the United States.

And this one from Governing that tracks the under-representation of women in New York City and suggests that cultural norms among other things are preventing women from winning city elections. Representation2020 has tracked women's representation in the 100 largest cities and found a striking correlation between women's representation and district design. The average percentage of women on city councils with only at-large seats is 41% while the average percentage of women on city councils with only single winner districts is 28%. Nearly all the top cities for women's representation have at least some at-large seats, and nearly all the bottom ranked cities have only single-winner seats. This encouraging data fuels our work for voting system reforms to elect more women faster.

​This article from Curbed discussing the same report from the NYC Council Women's Caucus includes a great chart of women's representation in 'peer cities' - many of which use a ranked or proportional voting system - not sure how many husbands in those cities do their share of the dishes, but I suspect it may be the same as in NYC or LA.

​Representation2020 fellow Toni Gingerelli - a 2017 graduate from Rutgers University - used her top-notch research skills to examine the impact of at-large/multi-winner districts at the state level. Ten states use some form of multi-winner districts while three of the ten - MD, NH, & WV - use districts with 3 or more representatives per district. In these states women are more likely to be elected in multi-winner districts than in single winner districts fueling our commitment to advance the use of multi-winner districts - with ranked choice voting to ensure fairness - to elect more women faster to all legislative bodies in the US.

Always a lot more to write but I will end here for tonight with this injunction from Susan B Anthony "failure is impossible"...



P.S. And a couple quick reminders, don't forget to watch To The Contrary on PBS and if you are in the DC area get your tix for the EMERGE event on September 14th!

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