Weekend Reading on Women's Representation February 10, 2017

By Cynthia Terrell on February 10, 2017

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The incredible Tuti Scott created these nuggets of inspiration
Dear friends,
Congratulations to the terrific team at Running Start who organized an amazing celebration of #NewWomenMembers of Congress on Tuesday at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, DC. Many of us were co-sponsors of this event while hundreds of others of us found inspiration in the words of the speakers and the packed crowd of republican and democratic women standing shoulder to shoulder - into the fray.

 

The lead organizer of the event, Melissa Richmond, was a star on NY1 - she explains the "confidence gap" and the contrast between the electoral success of democratic vs republican women candidates. Melissa also makes the very important point that women, like men, are generally partisans first.

Women's representation in the Northern Ireland Assembly grew by 50% in 2017 according to a BBC news story - due to recruitment quotas, women candidates and a proportional voting system.

One of the standout figures from last year's Northern Ireland Assembly election result was that the number of women MLAs increased by 50%. Women made up 28% of the assembly, compared with 19% in 2011. And while that was a significant mark of progress, Stormont still lagged well behind the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly for female representation. The 70 women running this time make up 31% of the overall number of candidates, a 4% increase on last year's figure. The Green Party is unique in running an equal number of men and women, a repeat of the numbers it fielded last year.

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In a related story, the Democratic Audit UK wrote about their research on the impact of women candidates that may be useful as we hone our message about women as candidates.


Jo Ousterhout sent this very helpful explanation of the democratic chair selection process - I am sharing it because there are women candidates for this important position and it is another area that merits reform. Adopting ranked choice voting for future elections would encourage civility, give the electors more meaningful choices, and ensure a majority winner!

On the weekend of February 24-26, the Democratic Party will be holding elections for a new Chair and Officers...Republicans control both chambers in 32 states, including 17 veto-proof majorities. Those 32 states cover 61 percent of the U.S. population. Democrats control the legislature in just 13 states, amounting to 28 percent of the country's population; only four of those chambers have veto-proof majorities.(2)

The Chair and 8 other officers are elected by majority vote of DNC members. There are approximately 447 voting members of the DNC -- 112 state party chairs/vice chairs, 208 chosen by the states (allocated by population and Democratic vote total), 48 allocated to various Democratic groups, 4 from Democrats Abroad, and 75 at-large members chosen by the DNC Chair. (See here for a list of voting members.) Find out more about the voting process here.

How to learn about the candidates for Chair and the other Officer positions? Over the past few months, the DNC has held Future Forums in various cities -- Houston, Phoenix, Detroit. The last one is this weekend in Baltimore. The Future Forums are part business and part candidate forum/speeches and are open to the public -- more info about the Baltimore meeting and how to RSVP here. The Baltimore meeting will also be livestreamed; check https://www.democrats.org on the 11th. (You can watch the livestream from any of the earlier meetings here.)

And one final opportunity -- next Wednesday, February 15, all the Chair candidates will be speaking in DC from 6:00-8:30 PM EST -- you can watch that on https://www.facebook.com/WNDCLUB.

The elections will take place at the DNC Winter Meeting in Atlanta, GA, from February 23-26. This meeting, too, is  open to the public and I would expect it to be livestreamed on https://www.democrats.org.
 
Glamour Magazine ran a timely piece by Suzannah Weiss about Google's challenges with diversity. A good strategy for addressing this imbalance is to identify leading companies - like Google - to agree to targets for the number of women employees. Their leadership would help to push others to do the same and mirror the work we have planned to convince PACs, political parties, and donors to set targets for the number of women they recruit and support.

There was an article in Variety about an increase in the number of women producers and conversation about gender parity. The Oscar voters use ranked choice voting to select the winners - stay tuned for FairVote's new app that you can use to rank your best picture nominees or anything else you need to decide upon!

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Inspiration takes many forms - here's a video you may have seen...
Warmly,

Cynthia

 

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