Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: To All Mothers—Biological and Metaphorical

Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation is a compilation of stories about women’s representation in politics, on boards, in sports and entertainment, in judicial offices and in the private sector in the U.S. and around the world—with a little gardening and goodwill mixed in for refreshment!


Team USA stands for the anthem with young soccer players at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota on September 3, 2019, where the U.S. beat Portugal 3-0. (Lorie Shaull)

As perhaps some of you heard, a federal judge ruled against equal pay for the championship U.S. women’s soccer team this week according to this story by Liz Clarke in The Washington Post

Chants of “Equal pay! Equal pay!” erupted among a crowd of nearly 60,000 in Lyon, France, in July when the U.S. women clinched their fourth World Cup championship with a 2-0 victory over the Netherlands.

Nearly 10 months later, federal judge R. Gary Klausner, ruling in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Pasadena on Friday, was unpersuaded by the women’s legal case for that demand. Klausner rejected the U.S. women’s soccer team’s argument that it has been underpaid relative to the U.S. men in the gender-discrimination suit filed in March 2019.

In a ruling delivered late Friday, Klausner sided with the players’ employer, the U.S. Soccer Federation, which argued the claim of unequal pay based on gender discrimination should be dismissed.

Klausner ruled that the players’ additional claims of unequal treatment in terms of travel, medical staff and training equipment can go forward. A trial is scheduled to begin on those questions June 16. But in granting summary judgment for U.S. Soccer on the matter of unequal and discriminatory pay, the judge gutted the symbolic and substantive heart of the lawsuit.

Molly Levinson, the players’ Washington-based strategist and spokeswoman, said the women would appeal.

“We are shocked and disappointed with today’s decision, but we will not give up our hard work for equal pay,” Levinson said in a statement. “We are confident in our case and steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that girls and women who play this sport will not be valued as lesser just because of their gender. We have learned that there are tremendous obstacles to change; we know that it takes bravery and courage and perseverance to stand up to them. We will appeal and press on. Words cannot express our gratitude to all who support us.”

U.S. Soccer responded with a statement of conciliation. “We look forward to working with the Women’s National Team to chart a positive path forward to grow the game both here at home and around the world,” it read. “U.S. Soccer has long been the world leader for the women’s game on and off the field, and we are committed to continuing that work to ensure our Women’s National Team remains the best in the world and sets the standard for women’s soccer.”


Barbora Krejcikova, left, and Nikola Mektic after winning the mixed doubles title at the Australian Open four months ago. (David Gray/Agence France-Presse / Getty Images)

In stark contrast, there was encouraging news from the world of tennis this week.

According to this story in The New York Times by Christopher Clarey there is talk about a possible merger  that would facilitate efforts toward equal pay for male and female tennis players:

After leaders of the men’s tennis tour, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, said they wanted to explore a merger with the women’s circuit, the head of the Women’s Tennis Association has made it clear that the feeling is mutual.

“I’m not afraid of the full merger; I never have been,” Steve Simon, the chief executive of the WTA, said by telephone on Monday in his first extensive comments on the ATP’s interest. “I would certainly be the first to support it, because I think then you truly have the business and the strategic principles all aligned, which is what you need to do. Obviously it’s a long and winding road to get there, but I think it makes all the sense in the world.”

Some, including the former men’s No. 1 Andy Murray, have expressed concern that the women might not be treated as equals in a merger because of the ATP’s greater economic resources and larger fan base. In the current model, there are complaints from the women’s tour about scheduling for show courts at some combined events with the men.

Simon said he did not believe women would be second-class citizens in a merger. “It’s not an acquisition,” he said. “This isn’t about either tour taking territory.”A single merged tour, he said, could build larger audiences and have more commercial appeal, yielding bigger financial rewards for everyone. 


Even before the pandemic, caregiving options were inadequate and expensive. (Alex Linch/iStock) (AlexLinch/(iStock)

Melinda Gates had an OpEd in The Washington Post about the need to address the long-standing issues with the caregiving system in the United States and the burden women bear—Melinda also writes about the imperative to pass comprehensive paid family and medical leavey:

As workday interruptions go, it was a cute one. Midway through a video call with our foundation’s COVID-19 response team, a naked toddler appeared in the corner of the screen.

Comic relief is in short supply these days, and we all welcomed the laugh. Later, it occurred to me that the moment had a certain symbolic significance. It is—and should be—impossible to have a meaningful conversation about recovering from this pandemic without addressing an aspect of Americans’ lives that is too often invisible: caregiving. 

To safely reopen the country, healthy people need to be able to go to work and sick people need to be able to stay home. We know that will require scaling up testing and contact tracing. We overlook that it will require scaling up caregiving solutions, too. It’s hard to stay home sick in a country where 1 in 4 workers lacks even a single paid sick day. It’s also hard to get back to work when you’re responsible for children or older adults but have nowhere to turn for safe, affordable care.

Even before the pandemic, caregiving options were inadequate and expensive. Now, everything that already made life hard for working families is about to get worse. Forty-seven states have closed schools for the academic year. Thousands of day-care centers may never reopen. The threat of COVID-19 has made otherwise self-sufficient seniors reliant on their families in new ways.

It’s no mystery who will bear most of the burden. It’s women. It’s always women. Even though most women now work full-time outside the home, they still spend two hours more each day on household tasks and caregiving, are 10 times more likely to stay home with their sick children and are nearly three times as likely as fathers to quit their jobs to take care of a family member. The data tell us that the unpaid caregiving work done by women in their households is, in fact, one of the biggest barriers they face to equal opportunity in the workforce. Post-pandemic, they risk falling even further behind.


Rep. Christine Watkins – R, Price, speaks at the panel discussion: Tales from the Trail at the Real Women Run training in campaign management, fundraising and research for political campaigns, Saturday, January 13, 2018. (Scott Sommerdorf / The Salt Lake Tribune)

Holly Richardson had a timely piece in the Salt Lake Tribune about a study from professors at Brigham Young University that concludes that even when women have a seat at the table they do not necessarily have a voice:

After years spent analyzing lab and real-life settings to determine what it takes for a woman to really be heard — to truly be perceived as competent and influential — these professors have found the same truth: for women, having a seat at the table does not mean having a voice.”

Those findings are summarized in an article published in BYU magazine this week. The professors who did the research are political science professors, Jessica PreeceChris Karpowitz and economics professor Olga Stoddard. This most recent research was looking at women in a top collegiate accounting program, and builds on previous research across a number of fields: business, academia, politics, sports, church, nonprofit spaces and, yes, even the home…

What they found was similar to previous findings: Women in mixed-gender groups were systematically seen as less authoritative and less influential, they spoke less often and when they did speak up, they were interrupted more and what they had to say was taken less seriously. Having a single woman in a group with four men showed the biggest disparities.

Additional research has shown us that if a company adds a single woman to their interview pool, for “diversity’s sake,” there is statistically no chance that she will be hired. Zero. Think about what that means when there is only one woman on a legislative committee. Or a board. Or a ballot.

“It’s not women who are broken,” Preece said. “It’s society that’s broken,” a society that has been socialized to “discount female expertise and perspectives” and to hold women to different standards.


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This snippet above from The New York Times by Nicholas Bakalar speaks for itself!


Julia Wieninger and Paul Herwig in Alice Birch’s “Anatomy of a Suicide,” directed by Katie Mitchell, a gripping entry at this year’s Theatertreffen festival in Berlin. (Stephen Cummiskey)

This headline from The New York Times “An Online Theater Festival Where the Future is Female” caught my eye—but the substance of the article written by A.J. Goldmann is even more encouraging as it reports on the impact of gender quotas to advance women’s representation in the film industry:

This year’s Theatertreffen, the annual festival of the best in German-language theater, was supposed to be something different. After years of criticism that the event was a boy’s club that ignored female artists, Theatertreffen’s organizers had introduced a quota: At least half the productions would be directed by women or majority-female collectives.

As it turned out, that wasn’t even the biggest change to the festival this year. When the coronavirus pandemic meant that the event, held each May in Berlin, couldn’t go ahead as planned, its organizers salvaged what they could by shifting it online. Starting May 1, the festival made recordings of select productions available to stream on its website. Of the six streamed productions, four are directed by women, an even more favorable ratio for female theatermakers.

The decision to bring in a quota came after years of debate about gender imbalances in German theaters, newly amplified in the age of #MeToo. (Productions from Switzerland and Austria, countries where issues of gender parity in the arts have received less attention than in Germany, are also eligible.)


RepresentWomen is very glad to be the fiscal sponsor for Seneca Falls Revisited (a project of Civically Re-Engaged Women) that is a multi-year celebration of the Suffrage Centennial that will culminate in a virtual conference this July to honor the legacy of those who fought for Suffrage and the women working for equality today. Check out the CREWOMEN TV website, visit Crewomen.com to register for the conference, look for Seneca Falls Revisited on social media, and watch this incredible Mother’s Day video with Seneca Falls Revisited conference co-chair Kenneth B Morris, Jr—a descendant of both Booker T Washington & Frederick Douglass.

Here is an excerpt from the press release: 

CREW, Civically Re-Engaged Women, announced today the preparation of their upcoming virtual conference “Sheroes & Champions: Energizing the Power of Your Vote.” The celebration of the “The Vote” is in observance of the Centennial of the 19th Amendment (Women’s Right to Vote) in the United States Constitution. The four conference takeaways will be: The True Meaning of Sacrifice, Sisterhood with a Purpose, Coalition Building, and Progress. Speakers and conference registration can be viewed on the website www.crewomen.com

In the 72 years that the Suffragist movement fought for the “Right to vote” it’s uncanny to realize the sacrifices of the women on the front lines, most of whom have gone nameless and faceless. Our SHEroes and Champions of the movement were unsung leaders who were determined to “elevate” their voices to “see” themselves in a country that gave them no access to equality. This equality was articulated in the right to vote which President Woodrow Wilson and the 65th & 66th Congress passed in 1919 and subsequently turned over to the states culminating in ratification and adoption to the US Constitution in 1920.

CREW’s efforts are supported by RepresentWomen, working to advance strategies for women’s leadership and Pivotal Ventures, an investment and incubation company created by Melinda Gates. Preserving democracy and its institutions needs to be broadened by both definition and example. American leadership, ingenuity and decency are today’s battleground for the soul of our Nation. Once again America is on the brink of change that will define another generation of hopefuls.

Cynthia Richie Terrell, founder and CEO of RepresentWomen, added that, “The Seneca Falls Revisited virtual conference is an incredible opportunity to celebrate the suffragists who won the right to vote, to build a strong network among contemporary women’s equality advocates, and to work together to plan the next steps on the journey ahead.”

Sharon Nelson, CEO of CREW concludes, “We are delighted to welcome Pivotal Ventures as one of the key sponsors of this milestone achievement for women. We encourage women to continue to elevate their voices through “action” in exercising their democratic right to vote.


RepresentWomen is also the fiscal sponsor for Every Woman Vote 2020 that is working with a broad network of non-partisan organizations to increase the participation of women in the 2020 election. Here is a little more information about the mission of Every Woman Vote 2020:

The goal of Every Woman Vote 2020 is to inspire women to vote at the local, state and national levels and to select candidates because they address the issues that they care about. To achieve this, we work with nonpartisan, membership organizations, trusted sources for their members and the best voices to motivate their voting participation. We will reach millions of voters and new voters through trusted messages of partner organizations. Our goal is to have Collaborating Partners inspire their members to encourage new voter registrations, including correcting voter data, and encourage millions who did not vote in 2018 to do so this year. 

Working with our Collaborating Partners who share these goals, we help them mobilize their chapters and members to participate in voter engagement and Get Out The Vote [GOTV] activities at the local, state, and national levels. We provide action ideas, toolkits, discussion leader guides for virtual, and hopefully later in the year, in-person gatherings, with media and communications support when needed on the website and with support from American Forum and its State Forums.


Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, Lucretia Mott and Ida B Wells.

Maura Reilly wrote a Mother’s Day tribute to some of the incredible women who came before us in the work for women’s equality which you can find on Medium:

Many associate the early women’s suffrage movement with suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton gained prominence with her commitment to abolition and the passing of the 13th Amendment, and quickly recognized the need for a women’s equality movement when barred from many abolition conventions and meetings on the basis of her sex. Partnering with Lucretia Mott, Susan B Anthony, and other progressive women, Stanton organized the first Women’s Rights Convention in 1848, the famed convention would later become known as the Seneca Falls Convention. For the Convention, Stanton wrote the Declaration of Sentiments, modelled after the Declaration of Independence calling out the inadequacies of the later and its failure to grant the true equality it hinted at. Although an early advocate for abolition, Stanton grew increasingly isolationist in her views on suffrage and equality, actively opposing the 15th Amendment for explicitly excluding women from the right to vote.

As the women’s suffrage movement became increasingly divided over the cross-section of race and gender, Sojourner Truth came to the front, calling for universal equal rights and suffrage. In 1851, at a Women’s Rights Convention in Akron, Ohio, Truth delivered one of her most famous speeches, “Ain’t I a Woman?” Truth called attention to the double-burden women of color face in both gaining civil rights and women’s equality. Although Truth initially worked alongside both Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass, she distanced herself as Stanton vocally opposed the 15th Amendment and Douglass urged women to wait their turn.

Ida B. Wells carried on Sojourner Truth’s mantle, becoming an avid intersectional activist both for civil rights and women’s equality. While working as a journalist, Wells investigated the systemic lynching of African American men in the south and published several newspaper columns and pamphlets on the pandemic of racial violence. Following death threats for her work, which earned her a posthumous Pulitzer Prize this year, Wells moved from Tennessee to Chicago where she became active in the women’s suffrage movement. 


My mother Carolyn Nicholson Terrell, shortly before her death in 2007.

Here’s to all the mothers, biological and metaphorical, who raised us and nurtured us and continue to inspire us.


Finally, don’t forget to check out this week’s must reads from the RepresentWomen team for feminists of all ages.


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About

Cynthia Richie Terrell is the founder and executive director of RepresentWomen and a founding board member of the ReflectUS coalition of non-partisan women’s representation organizations. Terrell is an outspoken advocate for innovative rules and systems reforms to advance women’s representation and leadership in the United States. Terrell and her husband Rob Richie helped to found FairVote—a nonpartisan champion of electoral reforms that give voters greater choice, a stronger voice and a truly representative democracy. Terrell has worked on projects related to women's representation, voting system reform and democracy in the United States and abroad.