United States (Conversation) – The 116th Congress will be the most diverse in U.S. history: 126 women will take office, including 43 women of color. Yet, as many have noted, this new diversity is confined to one side of the aisle.
The number of Republican women in Congress is actually dropping from 23 to 13. Only one out of 36 freshman female representatives is a Republican. So while 2018 certainly was the Year of the Woman, Republican women are watching from the sidelines.
Whether you are progressive or conservative, this is bad news. As political scientists, we strongly believe that both democracy and feminism work best when there is a critical mass of women in each major political party. A democracy should reflect the diversity of its society. Considering that women make up over half of the U.S. population but only 23 percent of Congress, American democracy already under represents women. For Republican women, the mismatch is even more pronounced.
Nearly half of all women in this country regularly vote for Republican candidates. For example, Donald Trump won 41 percent of the female vote in 2016 and Mitt Romney won 44 percent in 2012. Yet the overall numbers of Republican women candidates and elected women has stagnated at around 15 percent for the past two decades and is now declining.
This is important for many reasons.
GOP women add value to the democratic process
For one, Republican women, both as voters and legislators, often have different policy views and priorities than their male counterparts. Elected Republican women have provided crucial voices in setting policy. For example, Republican women were vocal in their support to reauthorize the 1993 Violence Against Women Act last year. Republican women have also been able to speak about womanhood in a language that fellow conservative lawmakers could relate to. Further, GOP women have forged bipartisan compromises in the past few decades with Democratic women.
More generally, research has shown that women on both sides of the aisle provide excellent constituency service and are more effective lawmakers than men. In other words, it is a problem for all of us from Republican districts – and for democracy more generally – if women are mostly concentrated in one party.
Higher hurdles for GOP women
So what can be done?
Most importantly, we should dispel the myth that the decline of women in the GOP is a Republican “war on women” with the GOP actively trying to keep women out of the party. Instead, our research shows that Republican women face greater barriers to entry compared to either Democratic women or Republican men.
First, Republican women have more limited access than Republican men to campaign dollars at the crucial primary stage when fundraising numbers signal candidate viability.
Both in individual donations and political action committee, or PAC, giving, the picture looks bleak for Republican women. In 2018, Republican women raised approximately US$19 million from women donors. Compare that to $159 million Democratic female candidates raised from women.
One of the biggest problems for Republican women is that they do not have access to an established and well-funded PAC network. While Democrats have EMILY’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women as candidates, and many more well-funded progressive women’s PACs, conservative women’s PACs are fragmented and underfunded. One conservative counterpart to EMILY’s List is the Susan B. Anthony List, which supports pro-life candidates of both genders. In 2018, EMILY’s List spent almost $69 million in support of Democratic pro-choice women. In contrast, the SBA List spent around $799,000 in support of pro-life candidates including Democratic and Republican men.
In addition to limited funds, conservative women PACs lack visibility and viability. WISH List, supporting pro-choice Republican women, faltered within 10 years and ShePAC within two years. Research by political scientists Rosalyn Cooperman and Melody Crowder-Meyer show that few GOP donors have heard of these efforts. Low visibility and limited funds mean that an endorsement of such PACs carries little weight compared to the endorsement of EMILY’s List, which is widely seen as a signal of viability and leads to an influx of donations from other sources.
Other efforts to increase the number of Republican women such as the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Project GROW” – which stands for “Growing Republican Opportunities for Women” – have also fallen short. As the first female head of the National Republican Congressional Committee, New York Rep. Elise Stefanik recruited over 100 women to run for the Republican Party. Only one of them won office.
Second, Republican women have a pipeline problem. Typically, candidates first run for local or state office before making a run for U.S. Congress. Yet, as of 2018, only 37.6 percent of all female state legislators across the U.S. are Republican. Fewer Republican women in lower offices means that fewer women will run for Congress. But this lack of a good bench is not due to a lack of ambition. Political scientist Abbie Erler of Kenyon College shows that Republican women are as ambitious as Democratic women. Instead, Republican women tend to live in states where opportunity structures are limited, meaning congressional delegations are small and turnover is low.
Third, Republicans reject “identity politics.” As political scientist Cathy Wineinger of Western Washington University shows, the Republican Party traditionally emphasizes individualism, social conservatism, a free market economy and national security. The GOP dismisses group-based representational claims about identity or diversity, which the Democratic Party embraces. This ideological bent hampers internal discussion of why electing women is important and makes it harder to establish a positive mechanism to address the lack of women in the party.
This is why Stefanik’s push for a new conservative women’s PAC is so important. She correctly identified the most important step to getting more women elected: early financial and logistical support in primaries. Without an entity that provides training, access to experienced campaign staff and fundraising, the GOP will never remedy its women deficit.
In the long run, being the party of white men is a losing demographic strategy for Republicans. More importantly, democracy depends on the debate of multiple viewpoints by diverse people. We do not mean to suggest that there must be perfect numerical equality at all times, but inequities should rotate, not stagnate. For legitimate representative governance, each party needs to contain a strong core of elected women. The American government and governing system would be better with more women on each side of the aisle.The Conversation
This report prepared by Malliga Och, Assistant Professor of Global Studies and Languages, Idaho State University and Shauna Shames, Assistant Professor, Rutgers University for The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.
The initial report MSNBC drew from was from Politico on Wednesday, titled "How women took over the military-industrial complex":
From the executive leadership of top weapons-makers, to the senior government officials designing and purchasing the nation's military arsenal, the United States' national defense hierarchy is, for the first time, largely run by women.
As of Jan. 1, the CEOs of four of the nation's five biggest defense contractors -- Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and the defense arm of Boeing -- are now women. And across the negotiating table, the Pentagon's top weapons buyer and the chief overseer of the nation's nuclear stockpile now join other women in some of the most influential national security posts, such as the nation's top arms control negotiator and the secretary of the Air Force.
It's a watershed for what has always been a male-dominated bastion, the culmination of decades of women entering science and engineering fields and knocking down barriers as government agencies and the private sector increasingly weigh merit over machismo.
It's a watershed! This is purely about merit and has nothing to do with the thousands of government diversity programs rewarding contractors for hiring women and minorities!
“To me, it’s a national security issue: We need every mind, every person engaged — male, female, every race, every level of experience,” said Lynn Dugle, a former vice president at Raytheon who is now CEO of Engility, an engineering and IT services firm that did more than $750 million of business with defense and intelligence agencies last year. “In the long term, we need to make sure talent wins."
I couldn't agree more!
Incidentally, have we agreed yet whether that applies to the Russians and the Chinese, which our military-industrial complex says are our sworn mortal enemies? We have open borders and let millions of citizens come in from all over the world, so I just want to be sure this "diversity and inclusion" stuff applies to them as well...
Of course, we all know that bringing in people from countries our military-industrial complex has been bombing for decades in the Middle East is an unqualified good -- because Drumpf's "Muslim ban" is pure evil -- but no one has explicitly explained yet whether that also applies to people from Russia and China.
We all know our Russian "enemies" have effectively taken over the Drumpf White House and just two days ago another Chinese spy who worked for the CIA was indicted for espionage.
Former CIA officer-turned-accused Chinese spy Jerry Chun Shing Lee had an accomplice in his alleged espionage against the U.S., new court documents show. From @Tom_Winter and @KenDilanianNBC https://t.co/Yn98AZYClS
— NBC Investigations (@NBCInvestigates) January 2, 2019
It would be nice to have some clarity on the issue!
“A woman’s natural aptitude for intuition, diplomacy and values-based decision making are critical to leadership.”
Legislators in California passed a bill recently that would require publicly-traded companies headquartered in the state to place at least one woman on their board by the end of 2019. Though Governor Jerry Brown has not signed it into law as of this writing, it is a big step in the right direction. "One-fourth of California's publicly traded companies (Including Skechers and TiVo) still do not have a single woman on their board, despite numerous independent studies that show companies with women on their board are more profitable and productive," California state Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson told the Wall Street Journal. "With women comprising over half the population and making over 70% of purchasing decisions, their insight is critical to discussions and decisions that affect corporate culture, actions and profitability."
If the bill is signed into law by California governor Jerry Brown, it would be the first state to take such a step. The California legislation would require companies with five directors to add two women by the end of 2021, and companies with six or more directors to add at least three more women by the end of the same year.
Unlike some European countries, the United States doesn't mandate female representation on company boards. A majority of companies in the S&P 500 have at least one woman on their boards, but only 25% have more than two, according to a study from PwC. We can do better than that. There are many highly qualified women out there who would be terrific board members. We should give them that opportunity.
I’ve been a board member on a NYSE company since 2003. It’s a privilege to serve and I have learned a great deal along the way. I serve alongside Dr. Judith Craven and we comprise a group of nine. This extensive experience led me to write a book about board service a few years ago. In writing it I learned a great deal about the value of having women on corporate boards and how the dynamic changes when they are there.
For example, I came across a revealing piece of research published by Anita Woolley and Thomas W. Malone in the June 2011, Harvard Business Review, entitled “Defend your Research: What makes a team smarter? More Women.”
The authors reported, “There’s little correlation between a groups’s collective IQ and its individual members. But if the team includes more women, the collective IQ rises.” The authors and their assistants had given standard tests to subjects between 18 and 60 years old. Each team was asked to solve one complex problem along with completing such tasks as brainstorming, visual puzzles and decision-making exercises. Teams were given intelligence scores based on their performance. Though the teams that had higher IQ’s didn’t earn much higher scores, those that had more women did.
As Dr. Craven so aptly writes, “A woman’s natural aptitude for intuition, diplomacy and values-based decision making are critical to leadership.” Bottom line: There’s a solid business reason to have diversity of all kinds on corporate boards.
Research is clear that female representation on boards is key for women's advancement in corporate America. Women on boards are more likely to consider female leaders for the C-suite and choose more diverse candidates for the board itself.
That warms my heart. But it should warm the hearts of corporate managers, stockholders and chairpersons across the land. It makes good business sense. If our primary job as corporate leaders is to drive the company forward and lead it into a profitable future, then choosing women for more boards is a no brainer.
I am passionate about helping ambitious people to rise.
I am an independent public board director, Harvard “Working Knowledge” author; and founder of Jill Griffin Executive Learning. I am passionate about bringing more diversity to the corporate board room. Since 2003, I... MORE
Jill Griffin is an independent public board director, Harvard “Working Knowledge” author; and founder of Jill Griffin Executive Learning