An Analysis of Merit Selection on State Courts

By Grace Knobler on January 10, 2018

There are six different ways in which judges get seats on state courts: merit selection, gubernatorial appointment, partisan election, nonpartisan election, legislative appointment, and court appointment. Of these methods, merit selection has been shown to lead to the highest percentage of women and minority judges on state courts. An American Judicature Society study entitled “Racial and Gender Diversity on State Courts” found that 54.3% of minority judges on state courts of last resort and 48.5% of women judges on state courts of last resort obtained their seats through merit selection.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation December 1, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on December 01, 2017


Dear friends,

As is often true, the most inspiring news I found this week on advancing gender parity comes from outside our borders. I hope that as we formulate and refine our work together to win parity in the United States we will stay curious about what's working in other countries and open to how we can incorporate best practices into our own work.

There was a very interesting story about faculty hiring processes in Ireland, for example, that offers a glimpse of how institutions can adopt rules about appointments and recruitment that accelerate progress toward parity by using money as a carrot - and a stick - and introducing the idea of 'gender equality accreditation' that I can imagine could be used in a number of private and public institutions in the US:

Universities in Ireland will now risk losing funding if they fail to promote a sufficient number of women into higher roles, Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor has announced.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, Minister Mitchell O’Connor stated that “the first Irish university was set up 424 years ago and since then, no university [in Ireland] has had a female president.”

“That was excusable 400, perhaps even 300, 200 or 100 years ago, but in the 21st century, it’s not only not excusable, it’s not acceptable in institutions which should be providing a beacon of equality to the rest of society.”

Minister Mitchell O’Connor also stated that a Gender-Equality Task Force, which will investigate the gender inequality in senior university roles, will be established and will receive €500,000 in funding. The force will monitor a national systems review of recruitment and promotion policies in higher education institutions. A system ensuring that regular feedback is received will also be established. The work of the taskforce will be based on a report by the Higher Education Authority (HEA), which analysed the state of gender equality in Irish universities and made recommendations on what improvements can be made.

The HEA agreed that state funding of higher institutions should now depend on universities’ performance in tackling gender inequality. The institutions’ eligibility for research funding will be limited to those colleges that have a history of tackling the issue of gender inequality in the past. In addition to that, colleges will be required to have gender equality accreditation by the end of 2019 by three of Ireland’s research finding agencies; Science Foundation Ireland, the Irish Research Council, and the Health Research Board.

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Vacation Reading on Women's Representation November 22, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on November 22, 2017


Hello friends,
I will keep this week's missive brief as I know we are all pressed for time this week - two of my three children arrived home last night with friends and two extra kittens in tow! I am itching to get home and make the dough for my mother in law's famous rolls and start the pie-making process.
If you are still trying to decide what kind of pie to make - like me - try using our RankIt App to poll your family or guests. It's a handy app for deciding anything and everything but it's still in beta form so let us know how we can make it better! Click on the 'see results' button to understand this simple - yet fair - voting process!


There was some coverage this week - including this piece in the Christian Science Monitor - on the election in Chili this weekend to select a new president. Sadly, there will be no female executives in the Americas once Bachelet steps down:
When Michelle Bachelet won Chile’s presidential election in 2006, she not only became the first woman to hold her country’s highest office; she ushered in a wave of female presidential victories that shattered glass ceilings across Latin America.

At one point, in 2014, more than 40 percent of the region’s citizens lived under female rule.

But as Chileans head to the polls Sunday to elect their next leader, and President Bachelet prepares to step down, an era is ending: For the first time in over a decade there will be no women presidents, or Presidentas, in the region....

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Women's Underrepresentation in the Judiciary

By Grace Knobler on November 21, 2017

Female matriculation in law school has increased significantly over time. In fact since 1992, the ratio between female to male law students has approached 50/50. Despite the relative equality among male and female law students, women’s representation in the judicial branch remains shockingly low. This is true among both female judges and prosecutors. A more diverse judicial branch equates to a more representative government. Representative democracy is important to the judicial branch because different perspectives often lead to diverse readings and implications of rulings. Christina L. Boyd, Lee Epstein and Andrew D. Martin’s study, Untangling the Causal Effects of Sex on Judging, found that male federal appellate court judges are less likely to rule against plaintiffs bringing claims of sex discrimination if a female judge is on the panel. Who we see representing us matters. Female judges and prosecutors are necessary to bring a new perspective to their rulings.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 10, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on November 10, 2017


​​The New York Times reported on the first American woman to win the NYC marathon in 40 years - advancing women's leadership on all fronts!

​Dear all,

Women candidates made great strides in Tuesday's elections - both in record numbers of candidates - thanks to the great work of EmergeAmerica & its terrific state affiliates, Higher Heights, Latinas Represent and VoteRunLead among many others - and a record number of wins! The Center for American Women and Politics tallied the available results on their website. Ballotpedia tracks state legislative special elections, mayoral races, and municipal races as well.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation November 3, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on November 03, 2017


According to this story on the MintPress News the United States has fallen to 49 in ranking of gender equality in a new World Economic Forum report:

The United States has made significant decline. When the study started in 2006, the U.S. ranked 23 out of 144 countries being examined, but in 2017 the U.S. has fallen to 49.

The U.S. has a significant gender pay gap and is one of few developed countries that does not have guaranteed paid maternity leave, which the WEF claims is a simple way for the U.S. to increase gender equality.

While a majority of the countries participating in the study are steadily increasing their gender equality, even the top ranked countries, Iceland, Norway, Finland, Rwanda, and Sweden have not achieved gender parity.

Japan dropped to 114th in gender equality in this same World Economic Forum report according to this story in The Japan Times while "Iceland topped the rankings for the ninth straight year, followed by Norway and Finland, according to the WEF, the organizer of the annual Davos meeting of business and political leaders. Rwanda came fourth, up from fifth, thanks to a rise in women’s economic participation."

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A Conversation with Nadya Okamoto: Ranked Choice Voting, Young Women Running, and Representative Democracy

By Antoinette Gingerelli on November 03, 2017

At the age of 19 years-old, second year Harvard student Nadya Okamoto is running for Cambridge City Council. There are currently twenty-six candidates running for nine at-large council seats on the council, six of which incumbent seats. Cambridge, Massachusetts conducts its elections using ranked choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of choice. Representation2020 sat down to talk with Nadya about the value of a representative democracy and ranked choice voting. “I am running in a district where over 35% of the demographic is under the age of 25 and over 34% of the adult population is enrolled in the university, yet we’ve never has student or youth representation on council.” As a supporter of representative democracy, she believes “we elect people to be able to represent experiences and basically act as megaphones for what the residents need.” Nadya believes that to truly be representative the council needs to have someone “living the experiences” or “can truly empathize” with the experiences of a student. She is looking to bridge that gap and believes it is important that young people’s voices are in the conversation, especially young women, because they are a part of the community.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 27, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on October 27, 2017


The Barbara Lee Family Foundation released their report Opportunity Knocks that tracks the recent increase in the number of women running for office and makes the compelling case that there has never been a better time for women to run for office - tune in to their webinar on November 9th at 1pm to learn more. Barbara Lee had a great column in the Detroit News this week:

Many of the characteristics voters associate with women — including honesty, integrity and authenticity — are highly prized by today’s electorate. Unsurprisingly, the strength and impact of these perceptions depends largely on candidates’ and voters’ respective party affiliations. Still, in many categories, women on both sides of the aisle benefit from their gender, with Democratic women candidates accentuating traditional Democratic advantages and Republican women overcoming some of the weaknesses voters typically associate with women and Republican candidates...

In 2018, 468 seats in Congress, 36 governorships and more than 5,000 state and local office positions will be up for grabs, and women have an unprecedented opportunity to fill more of them than ever before. The field is wide open, and first-time candidates, even those with little or no experience in elected office, have a real shot at winning if they can convince voters they have what it takes to bring about change.

Knowledge is power, and while every candidate brings a different set of experiences to the table, understanding voter perceptions of gender can help women lean into their advantages while controlling areas in which they may be more vulnerable. Our research affirms that women can win when they showcase their accomplishments, demonstrate their passion for key campaign issues, and highlight the difference women make when they serve as elected officials. By deploying these insights, women candidates of all backgrounds can make the most of this opportune moment, make the leap into leadership, and make better policy that reflects the rich diversity of our nation.



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The Status of Women's Representation on the NYC Council

By Jordan Allen on October 25, 2017

Women make up a majority of the population in New York City. In 2001,18 women served on the New York City Council but in 2017 only 13 women serve on the 51-seat City Council, and that number is projected to shrink in 2018. Out of the 13 current city councilwomen, four were ineligible to run again due to term limits, while one decided not to run for re-election. All five of these women are of color. At best, 12 women will be serving in the 2018 New York City Council. There were no primary challengers for the single Republican incumbent up for re-election. Though 113 Democrats ran for contested seats, only 38 were women. A third of Democratic primaries didn’t even have a woman on the ballot. No women are running to replace Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, meaning that New York City will be bereft of a female speaker for the first time since 2005.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation October 20, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on October 20, 2017


Dear all,
The BBC reported on women's representation in the Communist Party and in governmental positions in China:

Of the 89.4 million members of the Chinese Communist Party, just under 23 million are women - that's 26%.

And women make up 24% of China's National Congress - the sprawling national parliament. You don't have to be a Communist Party member to sit on that.

Women are less represented the higher up the political tree you climb.

After the last Congress in 2012, only 33 women sat on the Central Committee which elects the powerful Politburo - that's 9%.

Only two of the 25 members of that Politburo were women - 8%.

An update on Canada from the Montreal Gazette entitled "More Women Running But Gender-Parity Seems Far Off" reports on the status of women's representation:

This year, 33 per cent of candidates for city council seats are women, compared to 31 per cent in the 2013 election, and 26 per cent in 2005.

In mayoralty races, 20 per cent of hopefuls are women this year, compared to 18 per cent in 2013 and 14 per cent in 2005.

“At this pace, will it take more than half a century to achieve parity at the municipal level, particularly in terms of candidates for the position of mayor?” Groupe Femmes Politique et Démocratie (GFPD) said in a statement. “It is time to act to correct this iniquity. It’s a question of democracy.”

A non-profit, non-partisan organization, the GFPD is lobbying for “a law guaranteeing gender parity within political decision-making bodies.”

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Join us in turning public passion for gender parity into action and results