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Updates from Representation20/20

Multi-Winner Districts and Women’s Representation: From New Zealand to the United States

By Antoinette Gingerelli on September 29, 2017

New Zealand recently conducted its 2017 Parliamentary elections. With a mixed member electoral system in the House of Representatives, officials are elected from both single-winner electorates and party lists. In the recent election, 45% of the party list seats (multi-winner) were won by women, compared to only 35% of the general electorate seats (single-winner).

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 15, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on September 15, 2017

​Jane Austen on the Bank of England's 10lb note - see great story here.

Hello friends,

The New York Times had several interesting pieces this week including this opinion piece entitled "Women's Voice Remains Faint in Politics" that decries the lack of women's representation in New York and other cities.
And this piece on Angela Merkel who has lead Germany for the past 12 years examines the role that she has played and her legacy:

Ms. Merkel has not made gender equality a signature issue. But during her time in office things have quietly evolved.

Schools, which traditionally closed at lunchtime, relying on stay-at-home mothers, have gradually lengthened their hours. Child care, once anathema for children under 3, has been vastly extended. A paid parental leave has been introduced that nudges fathers to take at least two months.

More recently, the government passed a law obliging large companies to replace departing members of their nonexecutive boards with women until they made up at least 30 percent.

“She uses the same style of politics for gender that she uses elsewhere: She does not call for a revolution, she starts an evolution,” said Annette Widmann-Mauz, head of the Christian Democrats’ Women’s Union.

But women in Germany are still paid 21 percent less than men — the European average is 16 percent — not least because they do not climb the career ladder. In some areas the number of women in leadership positions has actually been sliding back.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 8, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on September 08, 2017

Dear friends,

There was a fascinating story on NPR about a new study on attitudes about women lawmakers which found that women think that women legislators have more integrity and are more competent:

On the whole, women tend to view a female representative as being more competent, having more integrity and representing the district well. They also tend to approve of female legislators more.

Meanwhile, men, on the whole, don't view women and men very differently on these measures.

But these attitudes don't hold steady across parties — Republican women in particular get a boost from fellow women.

"Women rate female Republican legislators more positively than they do male Republican legislators," the researchers write, "but neither women nor men rate Democratic legislators differently based on their gender."

Another story in the Washington Post examined the impact that Chile's female president had on a major policy victory for women noting that women leaders do not always push 'women's policies' but that women leaders do develop networks of constituencies that are vital to legislative success:

...being a woman leader is not enough. Bachelet is one of the few female leaders in the world who has aggressively deployed her constitutional powers to pursue gender equality. About a quarter of countries today — including economic powerhouses like Germany, Brazil and the United Kingdom — have had at least one female president or prime minister, and yet few of these leaders pursued a “women-specific” agenda...New research suggests that networks and constituencies better explain why female presidents are more likely than male presidents to try to advance pro-women policies. Analyzing these factors shows why a president’s sex sometimes, but not always, matters.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation September 1, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on September 01, 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).”

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Monarchy or Democracy: Which Yields More Women's Leadership?

By Savanna Richie on August 30, 2017


By Anna Richie

This past Saturday was Women’s Equality Day, which marked the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. In the United States, women make up just 25% of state legislators, and even less at the federal level. And of course, we have never elected a woman as President.

After 97 years of women’s suffrage, we should do better. But how?

We looked to the rest of the world, and we found a solution: monarchy.

You may be thinking of monarchy as an old-fashioned, outdated institution, and in many ways it is. But there is one way in which it strides ahead of democracy, and that is the number of women who have, as queens and empresses, led their countries. In these monarchies, throughout history and all over the world, there are countless examples of women’s political capabilities.

Think of the United Kingdom, whose royal family is probably best known in this country. Its queens are among the most long-lived and most memorable of its monarchs. There was Elizabeth I, who inherited a poor, divided country, and over a 45-year reign steered it to prosperity and a cultural golden age. It is thanks to her patronage that we have Shakespeare. Later came Queen Victoria, who, on account of her long reign and strong personality, lent her name to an era. And Elizabeth II, now the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, has been a stable presence guiding her country through a tumultuous 20th century and into the 21st.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 25, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on August 25, 2017


Dear allies,

Our friends at Latinas Represent have organized a Twitter Town Hall for this afternoon at 2pm to celebrate Women's Equality Day. A number of the leading non-partisan women's representation organizations will be participating in this event moderated by Tuti Scott - founder of Imagine Philanthropy - I hope that you will add your voice to the Town Hall this afternoon and use the #WomensEqualityDay hashtag for social media posts for the next three days.

Please share the attached images - shown above - on your social media platforms to help us amplify our impact!

And here's an assortment of Equality Day images - there are plenty more to be found and shared!

Happy 'equality' day weekend to all - it's our work together that will help us to realize actual equality!


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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 18, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on August 18, 2017

"The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."

August 18, 1920 - the 19th amendment was ratified, enshrining these words in the Constitution.

While "winning" the right to vote was an enormous milestone in the movement for women's equality, women now vote in higher numbers than men but are still seriously under-represented at every level of government. Partisanship is far more likely to determine our electoral choices than the candidate's gender.

In the last few decades "identity politics" has been more acceptable to democratic voters than to republican voters but a heated debate is now brewing among democratic party loyalists around whether to jettison specific identity groups and instead embrace a big tent of issues and policy platforms.

I have been thinking a lot about this issue and feeling increasingly dismayed by those who would seem to suggest that it's women and people of color who have identities while white, rural, men are identityless. All of us have identities and should have the opportunity to have our interests represented in government. Our current winner take all voting system pits constituencies against one another - fueling the perception that some voters are liabilities - despite their unparalleled party loyalty -  while other voters are the ticket to success.

I found some answers to my questions about identity politics at a lovely dinner last week in Cambridge, MA with Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier. Many of you will remember that then-president Bill Clinton nominated her to be Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights in the spring of 1993 and then withdrew the nomination when others attacked Guinier for her writing about representative democracy and power.

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 11, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on August 11, 2017

Dear friends,

There is simply too much to do! This week will be short on content but long on appreciation!

I am reminded daily of the absolutely necessary and fabulous work that all of you are doing to advance women's representation in the United States and around the world. I hope that all of you are fortified by the power of our growing movement - made richer by sharing our successes, building relationships, and holding fast to the vision of gender parity.

I am especially grateful this week to the team of fabulous interns who worked at Rep2020 this summer! Many thanks to Anna Scheibmeir, Neeknaz Abari, and Katie Shewfelt who spent the summer delving into research, writing projects, updates to the website, and video production!

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Weekend Reading on Women's Representation August 4, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on August 04, 2017

Hello friends and allies,

Writing again from the road in New Hampshire - the only state to get an 'A' on Rep2020's Gender Parity Index - so just a thumbnail sketch of some of the big stories from this week.
There was a sobering story in The New York Times about the challenges women CEOs face in the United States. While the routes to service in the private and public sector may be different, the cultural biases and discrimination is of course the same. Some groups like Project Mine the Gap and All in Together are working to engage women in the private sector specifically but it's important for all of us to develop strategies that promote and protect women's leadership in all spheres.
But with only 27 women holding the chief executive post, the departures of even a few will quickly thin the ranks. Those 27 included Ms. Rosenfeld from Mondelez and Debra Crew, the chief executive of Reynolds American, which is no longer a stand-alone company after being acquired last month by British American Tobacco.
Women continue to make inroads as directors on corporate boards, a critical step toward landing more women in top spots, since those boards select the chief executive. Even so, there are 610 companies in the Russell 3000 — a broad index that seeks to be a benchmark of the United States stock market — that have no women on their boards, according to the research firm Equilar.
As many of you probably know, Seattle is poised to elect a woman mayor for the first time since 1926. This story in the Seattle Times from a couple days ago reflects the status of the candidates early in the vote-counting process:

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