Women held record gains, influence in election

On November 6, most Americans focused their attention on the presidential election results. However, many state and congressional races also will influence the next four years. The Gender Report has previously looked at the influence of women in politics, notably the lack of women in elected office.This year, those numbers are starting to improve.

A Washington Post multimedia project highlights the female senators and their projected significance in governance. Click the image to go to this project.

The 2012 election brought a record-number of women to office; 1 in 5 senators are now female (a gain of 3 seats), and the first Asian American, as well as openly gay, women were elected to represent Hawaii and Wisconsin, respectively. A Washington Post multimedia project highlighted the female senators and their projected significance in governance. In addition, New Hampshire became the first state to elect an all-female delegation, including the only female democratic governor. In the House of Representatives, 77  seats will be held by women (a gain of four representatives).

Presidential Influence

Despite their gains for their own seats and victories, much of the media coverage of the election instead focused on the influence of female voters on the top of the ticket. According to research from the Huffington Post, for the first time in research dating to 1952, a presidential candidate whom men chose decisively – Republican Mitt Romney – lost. While Obama’s victory was attributed partly to high minority turnout and support, he won the female vote 54 to 45 nationally and also in every swing state(compared to his 56 to 43 showing in 2008). In one Washington Post article, female supporters of Gov. Mitt Romney said they couldn’t trust him to be true to his campaign promises, an issue women voters consider more signficant than their male counterparts. Gallup polling has tracked the gender gap since 1952, and said this year’s gender divide was 20 percentage points, the largest ever using its method of calculation.

The Huffington Post called 2013 the “New Year of the Woman.” For the time being, the most attention will be on Sen. Elizabeth Warren and the role she will play in the upcoming deficit deliberations in Congress.

Also of note was the loss of two male candidates who made incendiary comments about rape and women’s health in the weeks leading up to the election. Rep. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, both republicans, made headlines for their separate comments about “legitimate rape” and abortions being god-sent, and were both defeated. Some analysts attribute the nationalized attention to their comments to the already debated “war on women” of the republican party.

Gender Check 2/22/12 – Northeast

*Gender Checks are quick examinations of gender representation in individual news articles for the purpose of discovering trends over time. Click here to read more.

Website: Boston Globe (Boston.com)

On Boston.com, one of the lead articles featured on the home page as of 4:20 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, Feb. 22, was titled “President Obama Lays Out Corporate Tax Plan.”

Here is its breakdown:

Subject: Economy: Economic policies, strategies, modules etc (Global Media Monitoring Project No. 9)

Word count: 325

Author: Female

Human sources (listed in order mentioned):

  1. Male, Treasury Secretary

Website: Open Media Boston

On Open Media Boston, one of the lead articles featured on the home page as of 4:20 p.m. (EST) Wednesday, Feb. 22, was titled “Protestors Demand Taxes on Wealthy to Fund Social Spending at Twin Protests Outside Offices of Sens. Brown, Kerry.

Here is its breakdown:

Subject: Politics and Government – Other domestic politics (Global Media Monitoring Project No. 4)

Word count: 369

Author: Male

Human sources (listed in order mentioned):

  1. Male – executive director of Mass Alliance of HUD Tenants

Notes/analysis: The photo of the even is of one male protestor in the foreground and a woman in the background.

Reflections and action from Women’s Equality Day

Friday, Aug. 26, marked the 91st anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. To mark what is referred to as Women’s Equality Day, a number of news outlets, blogs and women’s groups as well as President Barack Obama shared thoughts, statements and stories about the anniversary.

Additionally, a number of women’s groups have gotten together to launch HERvotes, a campaign to mobilize women voters in 2012 specifically around the issues of health care and economic rights (Check out the website: www.hervotes.org).

In line with that effort, Ms. Magazine compiled a list of 10 laws that advanced women that are now being “threatened” or are at risk. That list includes women’s right to vote, which some argue is being challenged by new ID requirements that 34 states considered this year that aim at students, people of color and women, particularly since perhaps as many as 32 million women do not have the required documentation in their current legal name.

Here’s a selection of Women’s Equality Day coverage and commentary:

Find other interesting coverage of Women’s Equality Day? Share it in the comment section below.

This is the Gender Report’s Week in Review, a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.

Week in Review: Jan. 24-28

*Week in Review is a weekly post that highlights some of the major stories related to gender issues this week. Some of these stories may have already appeared in our News Feed or in the week’s Gender Checks. We’ll at times include a longer analysis of stories as well as bring attention to stories that may have slipped through the cracks of the week’s news cycle.

State of the Union

President Barack Obama gave his second State of the Union address Tuesday, discussing a plan to “win the future.” Media outlets focused in on key issues in the speech such as investing in education and infrastructure to stay competitive with other nations as well as working to reduce the deficit.

The blogosphere was a”twitter” with commentary, including some women who noted the absence of certain social issues. During their #sheparty discussion on Twitter on Wednesday, the Women’s Media Center asked what the take was on Obama’s speech. Commenters noticed missing issues such as equal pay, violence against women and abortion.

Also observed was the coverage of the speech. A post at Feministing provided a roundup of commentary on the address, noting at the end that it was “virtually impossible to find any female pundits commenting on the SOTU on the nation’s most notable progressive media outlets.”

At the same time, the Women’s Media Center released its report card for Obama on the state of the union for women and children, giving him an overall pass “with room for improvement.” Obama’s lowest grade on the report card, aside from some incompletes, was a C for appointing women. It cites the Center for American Women and Politics and notes that Obama appointed women to fill seven of 22 existing cabinet or sub-cabinet positions, or approximately 32 percent. The high for women was under President Bill Clinton at 42 percent. It also partly holds Obama responsible as a leader of the Democratic party for the lack of women running in recent elections. Quoting Katherine Kleeman with the CAWP, the report card notes, “the Democrats aren’t putting as much effort as the Republicans into grooming great women candidates at the local level.”

In other news

Also this week, women were part of the dialogue on the situations on Tunisia and Egypt. N’Dri Assie-Lumumba, a professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University, has noted that women are playing significant roles in these social movements. She says, “Even if African and Middle Eastern women don’t always have easy access to public platforms to express their ideas and voice their opinions,… they have consistently constituted a formidable and determining force in the struggle against any system of oppression.”

Here are a couple articles to check out if you’ve missed them.

-NPR: “In Tunisia, Women Play Equal Role In Revolution

-AFP: “Tunisian women fear Islamist return

-Guardian: “An eyewitness account (by a woman) of the Egypt protests

-Daily Beast: “Egypt Revolution: the Purity Protests” (Women increasingly taking part in the politics of the street)