Representation2020 supports and works with organizations focused on changing cultural norms and fighting gender stereotypes. Our mission, however, is to reform the institutions and structures holding women back. Recruiting, training, and funding female candidates will be more effective once the electoral process stops systemically disadvantaging women at each level of government.
Below are suggestions on how to dismantle these barriers for women who want to run for office.
Recruiting women to run for office is one of the central challenges to winning gender parity in the United States. Representation2020 challenges political parties, PACS, and donors to commit to intentional actions to ensure that more women are recruited to run. These voluntary targets mimic the quotas that are used in over 100 nations to fuel the election of women candidates.
Political parties in many states and localities play a significant role in deciding who runs for office - they must be challenged to be deliberate about the number of women candidates they recruit.
Local, state, and national political parties should establish Gender Parity Task Forces to assess the status of women’s representation and determine targets for the recruitment of women candidates. Ideally, local and state parties that meet their targets should receive Gender Parity Grants financed by donations from those who care about increasing the number of women elected to office. Pressure from party members may also work to make parties recruit more women candidates and to hold them accountable for their action - or lack of action as the case may be.
An annual report should be prepared by the local or state party on the status of women’s representation in its own leadership, in the number of female candidates, nominees, and general election winners in the most recent election, and its plans to recruit women for upcoming elections.
Political Action Committees (PACs) play decisive roles in recruiting, endorsing and funding candidates - they must be challenged to be intentional in the number of women candidates they recruit, support, and fund.
Members of PACs and endorsing groups, especially those with member-driven priorities, from the Sierra Club to organized labor, the faith community and the Chamber of Commerce, should set targets for intentional action in endorsements and political giving. While women-oriented PACs like EMILY’s List, Susan B Anthony List, and The WISH List already are committed to supporting female candidates, other PACs should intentionally and deliberately commit to contributing a certain share of their funds to female candidates.
PACs should be encouraged to discuss and propose targets for their giving for all levels of elected office. With public attention, parity funding of male and female candidates may develop into a comparative advantage for PACs, which operate in a competitive environment and are always on the lookout for new ways to appeal to donors.
Individual donor contributions are crucial to the success of women candidates for every level of office - and often are the first test of a candidate’s viability - they must also be challenged to set targets for the number of women candidates they support or the proportion of their total donations that go to women candidates. Donors may choose to set their own targets for support of women candidates or work in concert with others to make their pledge public. Influential donor pledges to support women candidates will help to build public pressure for increased support of women candidates.