For those of you hoping that we’d have our first female president in 2020, sorry. With Elizabeth Warren and Amy Klobuchar out of the race (and Tulsi Gabbard polling between 1 and 2 percent nationally), those hopes have been dashed. We’re left with a two-man race, between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders.
How did we go from a historic field of six women vying for the nomination to here? Speaker Nancy Pelosi thinks there’s an “element of misogyny” in the Democratic electorate’s choice, and many others do too.
“I think the electorate has not come to the same level of enlightenment that many other countries around the world have: that a woman as president can be in the best interests of our country,” Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) told POLITICO’s Laura Barrón-López.
“What privilege is, is that white men get to be the default, they get to be the regular, they get to be the fallback position. And then everybody else … is the other, is the exception, is the risk,” Aimee Allison, co-founder of She the People, which aims to elevate the political voices of women of color, told Barrón-López.
POLITICO Magazine asked a group of female operatives and experts to tell us what they thought was going on. Here are some highlights:
- Heather McGee, Demos Action distinguished senior fellow and a policy advocate who endorsed Elizabeth Warren: “The Democratic electorate has never stopped second-guessing ourselves about how we could have averted the disastrous Donald Trump presidency. So, yes, misogyny has played a role in 2020 — not because Democratic voters were too misogynistic to vote for a woman, but because we are too aware that the rest of the country appears to be fine with misogyny, from Trump to Brett Kavanaugh to bans on abortion.”
- Liz Mair, former RNC spokeswoman: “The formula that makes for successful male candidates is the same one that will work for the first successful female candidate for president—solid name ID, viewed favorably, liked, relatable and effective at beating the crap out of her opponents instead of delivering professorial lectures or talking point recitations or ideological word salad in the middle of debates.”
- Jennifer Burton, Democratic media consultant: “If Bernie Sanders were a woman, ‘she,’ as an angry, rumpled candidate, never would have made it beyond Mayor Sanders, and even that would have been a stretch. Likewise, if Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren or Amy Klobuchar were men, I have no doubt that one of them would be our nominee against Donald Trump. Read all the responses here
DO WOMEN MESSAGE DIFFERENTLY? Here at POLITICO, we started wondering if that could explain some of the primary results. So, our campaigns editor, Scott Bland, dove into the data, looking at every TV ad from the 2020 Democratic primary in Advertising Analytics’ library (minus Mike Bloomberg’s and Tom Steyer’s, since their billions allowed them to buy an outsized share of ads). Here’s what Scott found:
“In terms of broad topics, the male Democrats and the female Democratic presidential candidates used similar themes on the 2020 airwaves. Health care was a key topic in about 12 percent of the male Democrats’ ads, per Advertising Analytics; for the women, it was about 11 percent. They created ads about Donald Trump at about the same clip, 5 percent.
“There were some differences when it came to the less prevalent topics: Advertising Analytics tagged more of the female candidates’ ads under the ‘education’ and ‘environment’ topics, while more of the men’s ads were tagged under ‘jobs’ and ‘economy.’ But the few most common themes for the men and women were the same.
“The women did not air a single wholly negative ad in the Democratic primary, according to Advertising Analytics’ tracking, while there were just a handful from the male contenders. Overall, 74 percent of the female candidates’ ads were wholly positive, compared to 68 percent from the male candidates. The remainder included both positives and negatives — usually about Trump.”
Welcome back to Women Rule! It’s officially a year since we launched the new format, and I can’t thank all of you enough for coming back for more each week. I want to give a special thanks to Maya Parthasarathy, the genius behind “what rulers are reading,” Margy Slattery, the newsletter’s perspicacious editor, Ruairí Arrieta-Kenna, its tireless producer, and Anna Palmer, our guide and advocate. … Subscribe here!
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This Sunday is International Women’s Day, and we’ve got everything you need to know about gender and politics heading into it.
Be sure to check out this fun video POLITICO made for International Women’s Day, interviewing awesome women at POLITICO, including our own Maya and Anna, about what they know about IWD and how they’re celebrating. Watch here
And listen to this week’s special edition of the Women Rule podcast, in which Anna sits down with Natalia Kanem, executive director of UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency. Listen here
IWD BRANDING BEGINS AGAIN — Shell is changing its name for International Women’s Day, adding an apostrophe and becoming “She’ll” for a day. Shell (or is it She’ll?) has several women on its board, for what it’s worth — but only one on its leadership team.
NEED A BREAK? Watch Joe Biden’s senior adviser Symone Sanders and his wife, Jill Biden, fight off a protestor who interrupted a Biden rally this week. POLITICO
CORONAVIRUS TWEET OF THE WEEK —
MORE 2020 WATCH — “Biden wages likability war on Sanders,” by Marc Caputo and Natasha Korecki: “Biden’s strategy capitalizes on Clinton’s successful effort to brand Sanders as more unlikable than Biden among women, who favored the former vice president by 12 percentage points during his 10-state romp Super Tuesday, according to exit poll averages. With the averages showing Sanders lost black voters by even more — 34 points — the Biden campaign also tangentially brought up race in bashing the Vermont senator.” POLITICO
— “Why Some Suburban Women Are Wary of Bernie Sanders,” by Trip Gabriel NYT
VEEP STAKES — According to POLITICO’s Playbook, the consensus among political types is that Biden needs a youthful VP who would appeal to women and progressives. Among the possible choices: Sen. Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
— “Female activists set their sights on the No. 2 spot: They want a woman as vice president,” by Errin Haines: “With the path to the 2020 Democratic nomination all but closed for the remaining women in the race, voters, organizers and activists are setting their sights on the No. 2 spot. They’re insisting that a woman — specifically a woman of color — be the running mate for whichever white man will probably be challenging President Trump in November. …
“‘Being a leader means understanding your weaknesses and blind spots,’ [Democratic strategist Meredith Kelly, former communications director for the presidential campaign of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand,] said. ‘More than half of the population will trust your candidacy and eventual administration if someone in the room has dealt personally with the pay gap or relied on Planned Parenthood for their health care.’ A male nominee ‘should make sure a woman with constitutional authority is in the room, too,’ she added.” The 19th
— DOWN BALLOT — In primaries on Super Tuesday, several Republican women won their primaries, including Kay Granger (TX-12), Beth Van Duyne (TX-24), Genevieve Collins (TX-32), Young Kim (CA-39) and Michelle Steel (CA-48). In Texas’ 24th, two women will now face off in the general. And, in North Carolina, two Democratic women are the nominees for seats projected to flip to the Dems in November. For more, check out the Center for American Women and Politics’ Election Watch.
— “The fighter pilot takes on the astronaut: McSally’s 2020 Arizona battle,” by James Arkin POLITICO
REWRITE — “100 Women of the Year”: “For 72 years, TIME named a Man of the Year. With a few exceptions, it was almost always a man, usually a President or a Prime Minister or perhaps a titan of industry.
“In 1999, Man of the Year gave way to Person of the Year. While the name rightly changed, too often the choice was the same. With this 100 Women of the Year project, we’re spotlighting influential women who were often overshadowed. This includes women who occupied positions from which the men were often chosen, like world leaders Golda Meir and Corazon Aquino, but far more who found their influence through activism or culture. As former TIME editor-in-chief Nancy Gibbs writes, this project is an exercise in looking at the ways in which women held power due to systemic inequality. ‘Women,’ Gibbs writes, ‘were wielding soft power long before the concept was defined.’” TIME
WHAT TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND — “UN Women Is Curating Your Netflix Feed In Honor of International Women’s Day”: “The collection, which will be available all year, is curated by female creators including filmmaker Ava DuVernay, Stranger Things’ Millie Bobby Brown, Mindy Kaling, Pose‘s Janet Mock, Salma Hayek, and To All the Boys star Lana Condor. Each woman submitted a title that inspired her and helped honor the official theme of this year’s International Women’s Day: ‘I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.’” Elle
Some picks from the collection … Sophia Loren: The Crown … Andrea Barata Ribeiro: Sex Education … Mindy Kaling: Chewing Gum.
NEW FRONTIERS — “Space Force leaders’ quest: A gender-neutral force,” by Jacqueline Feldscher: “The Space Force has made its first two hires and both are women, a move that officials say shows the new branch is making sure it is gender-neutral from its very beginnings.
“The push to be more welcoming to women is one part of the Space Force’s larger effort to build a service that’s more reflective of a 21st-century workplace, including keeping gendered terms out of the service’s culture and offering more flexible policies to enter and exit the service over the course of a career.” POLITICO
NEW VC DATA — “Funding for female founders increased in 2019—but only to 2.7%,” by Emma Hinchcliffe: “How should female founders reflect on 2019? From a statistical perspective, the year could certainly be seen as step forward: the share of VC dollars that flowed into startups founded by a woman or a group of women crept up over 2019, hitting $3.54 billion, or 2.7% of total investment.
“But a more holistic look at the venture capital landscape puts that stat in a slightly different perspective. Consider WeWork, arguably the most notorious startup flameout of the year, if not the decade. In 2019, investment juggernaut SoftBank poured at least $5 billion into the imploding co-working company. That’s about $1.5 billion more than the total VC investment in all female-founded companies combined during the same period, according to data provided to Fortune by PitchBook, a company that tracks data from the venture capital and private equity industries.” Fortune
— On a more positive note, companies with female co-founders are on the rise, according to data from Crunchbase’s new female founder report: In 2019, 20 percent of global startups that raised their first funding round had at least one female founder, doubling from 10 percent in 2009. And, 21 new unicorns in 2019 had a female founder, the highest count in a one year period. (There were only five new unicorns with a female founder in 2016.)
But, according to the data, companies founded by women only don’t raise as much as companies with a male and a female co-founder. In 2019, just 3% of dollars went to female-only founded companies, while 9% went to female/male co-founded ones. The rest went to male only-founded companies. Crunchbase
BOOK CLUB SNEAK PEEK — The NYT’s Jennifer Steinhauer is out with a new book called “The Firsts: The Inside Story of Women Reshaping Congress,” about the women of the 116th Congress. Playbook published a sneak peek this morning — a chapter about how Amy Klobuchar worked on behalf of Kyrsten Sinema. On Amazon … The sneak peek
AROUND THE WORLD — “Iceland leads the way to women’s equality in the workplace”: “This year Iceland tops our ranking, overtaking both Norway and Sweden. Like its Nordic neighbours, Iceland is particularly good at helping women excel in the classroom (more than half earn a university degree) and guaranteeing access to corporate boards (women hold nearly half of the country’s board seats, thanks to a mandatory quota of 40% which came into effect in 2013). Women also make up 50% of the Icelanders who take the GMAT, the de facto business-school entrance exam. With so many women aspiring for careers in business, it is little wonder they hold 41.5% of management positions in the country. On this measure only Poland, at 42.5%, ranks higher.
“At the bottom of our ranking is South Korea, with Japan not far above. This is the eighth year in a row that South Korea has come last. Just 59% of South Korean women are in the workforce, below the average of 65% for the OECD, a club of mainly rich countries. Those who do work earn, on average, 35% less per year than men, the widest wage gap in the group. Climbing the corporate ladder, meanwhile, is a struggle: women hold just one in seven management positions and one in 30 board seats.” The Economist’s ranking
— “Driving trucks, blasting rocks – Women break the mold at Burkina Faso gold mines,” via Reuters … “Life Inside an Afghan Women’s Prison,” via NYT … “Venezuela’s president urges all women to have 6 children,” via AP … “It’s Among the World’s Hardest Sled Runs. Why Weren’t Women Allowed to Use it?” via NYT
METOO LATEST — “‘He and I have flirted unabashedly for 20 years’: Kathleen Parker’s defense of Chris Matthews sparks #MeToo debate,” by Allyson Chiu: “The tweet appeared just minutes after longtime MSNBC host Chris Matthews abruptly resigned Monday night at the top of his program — a shocking announcement that marked the end of a tumultuous week for the 74-year-old, who has recently been embroiled in controversy over on-air missteps and allegations of sexism.
“‘Chris Matthews is a friend of mine,’ tweeted Kathleen Parker, a Washington Post columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner. ‘He and I have flirted unabashedly for 20 years. This is an atrocious end to a noble, happy-warrior career. I will continue to be his friend.’
“Parker appeared to be referring to one of the events that preceded Matthews’s unexpected exit: Journalist Laura Bassett published a GQ.com article on Saturday that detailed what she described as the host’s ‘long history of sexist comments and behavior’ toward women on- and off-air. Bassett wrote Matthews ‘inappropriately flirted’ with her when she was a guest on his show, noting a number of other women also had similar experiences. …
“Parker wasn’t the only person to publicly stand up for Matthews on Monday night. But she was among the most prominent and her words did not sit well with some feminists and several of her fellow female media figures. Soon, Parker’s tweet was at the center of a heated #MeToo debate as detractors slammed the columnist for ‘[discrediting] alleged victims’ while Matthews’s supporters lamented he ‘got the screws put to him.’ By early Tuesday, the tweet had amassed more than 1,000 replies and hundreds of retweets.” WaPo
— “Chris Matthews’s misogyny shaped political journalism for a generation” by Laura McGann Vox
HISTORY DEPT. — “The Radical Reason Why March 8 Is International Women’s Day,” by Suyin Haynes: “The impetus for establishing an International Women’s Day can be traced back to New York City in February 1908, when thousands of women who were garment workers went on strike and marched through the city to protest against their working conditions. ‘Like today, these women were in less organized workplaces [than their male counterparts], were in the lower echelons of the garment industry, and were working at low wages and experiencing sexual harassment,’ says Eileen Boris, Professor of Feminist Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara.
“In honor of the anniversary of those strikes, which were ongoing for more than a year, a National Women’s Day was celebrated for the first time in the U.S. on Feb. 28, 1909, spearheaded by the Socialist Party of America. Led by German campaigner and socialist Clara Zetkin, the idea to turn the day into an international movement advocating universal suffrage was established at the International Conference of Working Women in 1910. Zetkin was renowned as a passionate orator and advocate for working women’s rights, and her efforts were crucial to the day’s recognition throughout much of Europe in the early 1910s.” TIME
CURIO — “From Uptalk to Vocal Fry, Women Are Prolific Language Innovators,” via Slate’s Lexicon Valley
SPOTLIGHT — “Rosalind P. Walter, 95, First ‘Rosie the Riveter’ and a PBS Funder, Dies,” by Joseph Berger: “Rosalind P. Walter grew up in a wealthy and genteel Long Island home. Yet when the United States entered World War II, she chose to join millions of other women in the home-front crusade to arm the troops with munitions, warships and aircraft.
“She worked the night shift driving rivets into the metal bodies of Corsair fighter planes at a plant in Connecticut — a job that had almost always been reserved for men. A newspaper column about her inspired a morale-boosting 1942 song that turned her into the legendary Rosie the Riveter, the archetype of the hard-working women in overalls and bandanna-wrapped hair who kept the military factories humming.” NYT
WOMEN AT WORK — “Women’s Unpaid Labor is Worth $10,900,000,000,000,” by Gus Wezerek and Kristen R. Ghodsee: “If American women earned minimum wage for the unpaid work they do around the house and caring for relatives, they would have made $1.5 trillion last year. Globally, women would have earned $10.9 trillion. Imagine you had a bucket big enough to hold all the money made in 2018 by the 50 biggest companies in the world. The $10.9 trillion that women didn’t earn would more than fill it.” NYT Opinion
TRANSITIONS — Julia Hahn, a former Breitbart writer who is currently director of rapid response and surrogate operations for the White House, will replace Adam Kennedy as deputy communications director.
SPOTTED at a party for Charlotte Alter’s new book, “The Ones We’ve Been Waiting For” ($16.29 on Amazon), at the home of her uncle Charles Rivkin and Susan Tolson on Thursday night: Emily Lazar, Jackie Alemany, Molly Ball, Kathleen Biden Buhle, Margaret Carlson.
WISDOM OF THE WEEK — Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute: “The best decision I made was to have kids at 40. It prepared me to be a better leader, to be a change maker in the industry I now lead. Motherhood taught me to see things from another’s view, to meet people where they stand, to be open to new ideas. You have to take risks — and even fail — if you want to innovate, that’s where the change happens.” Connect with Maria here.
IMPACT PARTNER — From selling her first company to operating five restaurants in the Los Angeles area, restaurateur Caroline Styne has certainly seen her fair share of success. One of her #jbfwomenlead secrets? Finding the right business partner. Learn more about Caroline Styne’s experience here.
MARKETPLACE — Each month, we highlight a female founder by sharing her company’s story. This February, we’re featuring Dionna Dorsey, founder and creative director of District of Clothing, a Washington D.C. based lifestyle brand created to empower, inspire action, conversation and mindfulness.
“I had been missing fashion for some time and was considering making a pivot back, but I wasn’t sure how or when. Coincidentally, my prime client had gone on a spending freeze and I worried about making ends meet in the coming months. At the time, I frequently heard podcasts discuss passive income pathways and it became quite clear fairly quickly that I needed to use my design skills to create a side hustle to compensate thus giving birth to District of Clothing.” Use the code POLITICO for 10% off your purchase.
- Elizabeth Ralph @EFRalph