Does that title sound world weary? It might be. A little. Sorry about that.
But, for reals, how long do we have to keep talking about this? There are, in point of actual fact, fewer women in elected office than men. There are, in point of actual fact, JUST AS MANY QUALIFIED WOMEN AS THERE ARE MEN. So, to explain our world-weariness, we present to you, from the annals of "Didn't they write this article last year?" the most recent entry in the "Women are underrepresented in Wyoming in elected office" category.
(And our thoughts on why it matters and what to do about it. Because, you know, WE SHOULD FIX THIS.)
In this week's JHN&G, Jen is quoted talking about the recent decline in the number of elected women in Jackson and Teton County.
“Right now only two of the 10 are women, and it’s really important that we make sure that we have women’s voices represented on our elected bodies."
After spending 2019 (Wyoming's 150th celebration of suffrage) and 2020 (USA's 100th celebration of the 19th Amendment) SHOUTING ABOUT THIS, apologies for the recap. (And the shouting. There is bound to be more shouting.)
Want to know (part of) why things are off the rails right here right now?
Women are 51.5% of the nation's population and only about 24% of its elected leadership. Want to know how to fix this? SUPPORT WOMEN WHO SUPPORT WOMEN. ELECT MORE WOMEN. REPRESENTATION MATTERS.
(We'll try to keep the volume down from here on out. No promises, though.)
Want to know why it matters to elect women and how we can do a better job? Read on.
Research shows that when women do well, our families and communities thrive. So, by supporting women, we're supporting men, kids, families, local businesses, and communities.
But men can do this too, you say.
While that is true—men can and *should* support policies that support women—recent research continues to show that isn't the reality. And that electing more women has a SPECIFIC AND SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON OTHER WOMEN. (So much for not shouting.)
Allow us to demonstrate.
This research shows that gendered goods (things labeled "women's shirts" or "women's pants") experience higher tariff rates which means that women end up paying more for their goods.
"We identified gender-based governmental discrimination that directly affects billions of women on a daily basis: the setting of import tariffs for gendered goods. These tax rates often impose direct penalties on women as consumers."
UNLESS THERE ARE MORE ELECTED WOMEN.
"Our work highlights a previously unacknowledged government policy that penalizes women and also provides powerful evidence that descriptive representation can have a substantial, direct impact on discriminatory policies."
Put another way: In places with more women in elected office, those tariffs went down. The pink tax went away. Women paid what men paid. Women, who are already paid far less than their male counterparts (often for doing the same work), were no longer penalized by their governments and forced to pay an additional tax just for being women. (Except for the places--most--where the tampon tax remained. Yet another discriminatory tax. But we digress.)
So there is a clear fix for some of the existing, systemic discrimination impacting women in our daily lives: ELECT MORE WOMEN.
How do we elect more women? Fortunately, there are some folks (in addition to us) working on it!
RepresentWomen has great research on how rank-choice voting, multi-winner districts, and quota systems impact elections and help level the playing field. (Because, let's be honest, it is *not* a level playing field right now in the U.S.)
How do we know it isn't a level playing field? Look at the stats of women in elected office. And, RepresentWomen once again has you covered on research about where the political money goes. (Spoiler alert: It mostly goes to white, male incumbents.)
Cowgirl Run Fund is a nonpartisan PAC that supports women across the political spectrum who are prepared, running competitive campaigns, have a history of civic engagement, and SUPPORT OTHER WOMEN.
That's right, there is a need to be prepared and serious. Because we're not saying that every woman should be elected.
Unlike last month's roiling debate (thank you WYGOP) about Cowgirl Run Fund and whether, as Marti Halverson claimed, women are "superbly represented" by the men in the Legislature "because they have wives and daughters," and whether, as a social media poster stated we were "whores" just trying to put more "uteruses" in the Legislature (#whoresandunteruses forever!), we are saying that women who are prepared, qualified, and whose policies support women—and, by extension EVERYONE—should have a level playing field. Should be considered serious candidates. Should not be forced to jump through additional fiery hoops to prove their readiness and value. Sure, we know they can, we know they will. But they shouldn't have to. That's evidence of a slanted playing field.
We're here to stop the slant. And we're definitely here to help stop the big pretend that the slant is normal. Mediocre white men should not continue to fail upwards.
It is long past time to populate our Town Councils and County Commissions and State Legislatures and just about everything else with ready and capable women. But it will take a concerted effort on all our parts. To run, to win, to serve, to lead.
Today, you can get out there are vote. Vote for the women on your ballot who support women. Representation matters.