Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation: Election Season Kicks Off in Earnest. Here’s to Building a Pipeline of Women Candidates!

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!

This week’s Weekend Reading is designed to provide an update on our work as we celebrate our fifth anniversary as an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

RepresentWomen (then Representation2020) started as a project of FairVote in 2013. Representation 2020 was founded to research the best practices to address the barriers women face in politics as candidates and elected officials in order to advance women’s representation and leadership. 

In 2018, Representation2020 became RepresentWomen, an independent research-based organization led by Cynthia Richie Terrell. We secured a multi-year grant from Pivotal Ventures in 2019, worked with many passionate and talented interns, and hired our first staff within a year.

Over the years, we have expanded to 12 staff and four departments (research, partnerships, communications and development), hosted wonderful fellows from the U.S. State Department’s IREX program and worked with over 100 hundred interns! We are delighted with how far we have come and can’t wait to continue growing as we work for a truly representative democracy. Thank you for following our journey and for your generous support.

Revelations From Research: Upcoming Projects and Reports

From left to right: research director Courtney Lamendola, research associate Steph Scaglia, research associate Marvelous Maeze, and IREX (International Research and Exchanges Board) fellows Wissal Nada Sengouga and Geethika Mannaperuma.

RepresentWomen’s research team is the organization’s hub for knowledge building, data gathering and analysis regarding the systems barriers and solutions to gender-balanced governance. Our team produces original research focusing on systems-level strategies to increase women’s representation in politics at all levels of government in all 50 states.

As we enter the last quarter of 2023, several of our most significant projects, such as the 2023 Gender Parity Index (GPI), have already been published. However, we have several upcoming releases. These include state-specific case studies that utilize our GPI findings, an international analysis of countries with broken records regarding women’s representation in 2021 and 2022, and a memo on the importance of proportional ranked-choice voting and its impact on electing women.

Internally, we work to create resources that our counterparts in communications and partnerships can use to share our findings and support the overall movements of women’s rights and electoral reform. Our upcoming projects exemplify our emphasis on knowledge building as we dig deeper into some interesting findings that have come up in past reports and the importance of our international research. This further research allows us to contextualize the United States as women in many other countries see much better representation, particularly under proportional representation voting systems.

Catch Up With Comms! Updates From our Communications Department

From left to right: communications director Laura Todd, digital engagement associate Ria Deshmukh, communications interns Nora Weiss and Jewelene Meneses.

RepresentWomen’s communications department is tasked with spreading awareness of our organization. We work closely with the research, partnerships and development departments and provide support as needed, particularly in creating understandable and shareable content. We’ve been curating and creating engaging social media content that highlights our latest report releases and promotes the upcoming American Democracy Summit. Our largest project for this quarter is fine-tuning the details of our 2024 planner. As we continue spotlighting impactful female leadership, we are excited to prepare for our upcoming interview with Lindsey Williams Drath, the CEO of Forward Party, whose insights will feature prominently in our 2024 planner.

Communications is also responsible for managing this series: Weekend Reading on Women’s Representation. This quarter, we will continue to draft and edit the blog every week. Our Weekend Reading is an integral part of RepresentWomen because it is an outlet to shed light on important issues, uplift research partnerships, and deepen the conversation about systems strategies like ranked-choice voting that elect more women to office. Thank you to Ms. magazine and digital editor Roxy Szal for creating an even larger platform for the Weekend Reading!

The communications department’s main priority is increasing RepresentWomen’s impact and accessibility. Accessibility is a core value that RepresentWomen holds because it ties in closely with inclusion. Just as we believe in removing barriers to electing women, we believe in removing barriers to engaging with our work. By creating an accessible understanding of RepresentWomen’s research and projects, we invite more people to join the work for a fair democracy.

All Aboard the Partner-Ship

From left to right: partnerships director Katie Usalis, national partnerships manager Victoria Pelletier, and outreach manager Alissa Bombardier Shaw.

We are the partnerships and outreach department, the “strategic engagement” lever of the RepresentWomen strategy. This means that it’s our job to take the brilliant work of the research department and get it into the hands that matter, whether that’s through one-on-one conversations with decision-makers, convening women leaders, or giving trainings on systems strategies to pipeline organizations.

The partnerships and outreach department focuses on the long game of relationship and trust building for sustainable impact. Check out our team photo to see who you’re greeted with when you set sail on the RW SS Partner-Ship.

We have a busy fall in the partnerships and outreach department as we continue to work with our partner organizations, elected officials, allies, and key stakeholders in the advancement of women’s political power.  This quarter, we look forward to a wide range of collaborative projects over the next several weeks, including:

  • Continuation of ongoing meetings with various national and state organizations for continued engagement and identifying opportunities for new ways to partner together
  • Preparing for the launch of the Women’s Power Collaborative—the only national-level body that combines women’s representation organizations and electoral reform organizations in support of a more gender-balanced democracy.
  • Preparation for RepresentUs’ American Democracy Summit (ADS)—the whole partnerships team will be in attendance! We’re excited to be speaking on several panels, host a happy hour and a strategy breakfast, and have an opportunity to meet with partners and allies at our RepresentWomen booth. We look forward to learning more about best practices for increasing women’s representation at every level of government.

Through the creation of our Women’s Power Collaborative, which will equip members with our network and resources, we will create a more receptive environment for systemic solutions and the twin-track approach (i.e., combining the power of building a pipeline of women candidates with systems strategies that remove pipeline blockages).

Our continued meetings with our terrific partners and allies and the relationships we create and deepen at ADS contribute to our goal of establishing a more robust network of stakeholders, especially women, fighting for systems change and maximizing the twin-track approach.

With 80-degree days in D.C. this week, we’re dreaming of fall weather and activities. Rank your favorite fall activities!

Our quarter three staff retreat was this week! It was lovely to see all the RepresentWomen team in one place. In addition to reviewing goals and plans for quarter four, we had a powerful session with Rene Redwood, who led us in an incredible conversation about our values as an organization and our commitment to, and practice of, diversity, inclusion and belonging. Rene is pictured with the team below, along with a few other pictures from our celebratory week.

Up next:

U.S. democracy is at a dangerous inflection point—from the demise of abortion rights, to a lack of pay equity and parental leave, to skyrocketing maternal mortality, and attacks on trans health. Left unchecked, these crises will lead to wider gaps in political participation and representation. For 50 years, Ms. has been forging feminist journalism—reporting, rebelling and truth-telling from the front-lines, championing the Equal Rights Amendment, and centering the stories of those most impacted. With all that’s at stake for equality, we are redoubling our commitment for the next 50 years. In turn, we need your help, Support Ms. today with a donation—any amount that is meaningful to you. For as little as $5 each month, you’ll receive the print magazine along with our e-newsletters, action alerts, and invitations to Ms. Studios events and podcasts. We are grateful for your loyalty and ferocity.


RepresentWomen’s mission is to strengthen our democracy by advancing reforms that break down barriers to ensure more women can run, win, serve, and lead. The team engages in research to track the status of women’s representation in the US and abroad, understand the underlying reasons women are underrepresented, and find evidence-based solutions to mitigate the problem.