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  • Politico: Year of the Woman Governor Hits a Snag

    September 1, 2014

    “It’s embarrassing to our country in 2014, when 51 percent of our population are women, that we’re trying to creep to six or seven women governors,” said Adrienne Kimmell, executive director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. “It’s a slow and painful process.”

  • Huffington Post: When Men Lose in Politics, It’s Never Their Fault

    August 28, 2014

    When women lose races, it's seen as a personal failing. When high-profile men lose, seemingly omnipotent outside forces are to blame. A sampling of press coverage of losses from Tom Daschle to Scott Brown to Mitt Romney to Eric Cantor helps paint the picture.

  • Boston Globe: In AG Race, Tolman apologizes for calling Healey’s questions ‘unbecoming’

    August 27, 2014

    Barbara Lee, of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which is dedicated to getting more women involved in politics, tweeted: “Code for close race = #unbecoming #unladylike #cold #bossy. Men always try to knock women off pedestal[s] like this in #mapoli and beyond.”

  • Politico: Money gap: Why don’t women give?

    July 22, 2014

    Democratic megadonor Barbara Lee is doing everything in her power to bring in more women. The founder of the Barbara Lee Political Office and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation has worked to elect women to public office since 1998. “The donors circles are very much an old boys’ club,” said Lee, who has helped elect 122 women in 30 states, including every sitting Democratic female senator and governor. “There are very few women who are able to write the big checks, and even fewer who invest specifically in women candidates. That’s why I’m doing everything I can to create a new girls’ network.”

  • Boston Magazine: Boston’s Most Powerful Thought Leaders

    May 1, 2014

    If America elects a woman to be its next president, she’ll have Lee to thank. Since 1999, Lee has been obsessed with engaging the next generation of female leaders in elective politics. You may have heard of some of her protégées—Elizabeth Warren, Wendy Davis, Martha Coakley. Lee has always been focused on building the long-term ladder to the political peak, and that work has kept growing. Her foundation’s research guidebook, Keys to Elected Office: The Essential Guide for Women, will be released in June.

THE FINE PRINT: Breaking: Women Don’t Like the Party That Doesn’t Like Them

AK headshot 1September 4, 2014

By Adrienne Kimmell

Two major Republican groups paid for eight focus groups and surveys of 800 female voters to find out what I could have told them for free: Women think the GOP is stuck in the past.

The report offers three strategies to help the party connect with women who see them as “out of touch”; “stuck in the past”; and “intolerant.” Two of them focus on flipping the narrative when faced with talk about the party’s awful track record supporting fairness for women and changing the subject when asked about abortion.

Of course, not all Republicans are the problem; it is the party’s overall image that is. To be sure, there are plenty of Republican voters who agree the party has lost touch and is moving further from representing their values when it comes to fairness and equality.

They, too, are sending a message to the party itself: You can talk all you want, but women want to see you walk the walk. If the party is serious about gaining ground with women, they need to be serious about the third prong of their strategy: “inject[ing] unexpected policy proposals into the debate.”

The report lists things like improving job-training programs and expanding home health care services as ways to innovate their policy debates. But how about listening to women and following through on what they’re telling the party, loud and clear? The focus groups and polls found that women believe ensuring equal pay for equal work is the policy that would help women the most. Yet, time and again, Congressional Republicans have blocked legislation that would do just that.

The GOP doesn’t need a three-pronged approach to mitigate the damage caused by years of out-of-touch policies and foot-in-mouth moments by men in their party. They need to see women for the powerful voting bloc and economic drivers they are – and treat them that way (like people, perhaps?). Women account for 85 percent of consumer purchases and are 51 percent of the population. They have the power of the purse and at the polls.

Many Republican office holders say they support equal pay for women, but their votes prove otherwise. They need to make bold moves to show women they will buck tradition and evolve into this century. They can start by supporting the Paycheck Fairness Act and other proposals to level the playing field for women at work.

And here’s another idea: Show women the party is serious about changing its reputation by working to elect more women to represent them (There are currently 23 Republican women in the U.S. House and Senate combined, compared to 76 Democratic women).

Voters believe we need more diversity in office, including more women who are in touch with real life. They give woman points for “getting it” in a way that men don’t. If the GOP wants to connect with women, they can start with their own candidates.

Now, that would be unexpected.

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