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Girls Rule: What This Election Means for Women

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Ladies, we are having a very good year.

This election, a record number of women -- binders and binders full of them -- ran for office, and best of all... they won.

In the new Congress, we will have 20 female Senators, up from 17. We will have the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin, in Wisconsin. We will have the first Asian-American woman in the Senate, Mazie Hirono, and the first Hindu in Congress, Tulsi Gabbard. Last I checked, 81 women had been elected to the House, while a few races were still being counted. New Hampshire will have the nation's first all-female delegation.

This election wasn't just a win for women and it wasn't just a win for the men who love them; it might also be a win for government.

What does this all mean?

As you know, there was a lot of talk this election, particularly from Republicans, about how government should be run more like a business. Well, guess what? Having more women in leadership roles is a key sign of a company's health. And more women in Congress may be a sign that government is growing healthier, too.

Here are the facts:

Companies with more women in leadership roles improve their bottom line

That's right. The research shows that again and again that companies that consistently promote women outperform their competitors. They do better on the stock exchange, and they make higher profits.

From a 2007 Catalyst study: [1]

Fortune 500 companies with 3 or more women on the Board outperform those with the fewest by
+ 42% return on sales
+ 53% return on equity
+ 66% return on invested capital

From a 2007 McKinsey study: [2]

Companies with more women in top management outperform the industry average in return on by 48% in operating results.

From a Pepperdine University study:

After several years of tracking the performance of Fortune 500 companies, researchers found "The correlation between high-level female executives and business success has been consistent and revealing."

There are many possible reasons for this correlation between more women and healthier companies. It could be that we're better listeners, we have a unique ability to form relationships or the fact that we tend to be more risk-averse than men in our decision-making. Or according to a study published in Harvard Business Review this year, we're simply better leaders. Or maybe, as Nancy Pelosi pointed out in an interview just yesterday morning, those years some of us spend raising children actually give us important diplomacy and interpersonal skills.

How do these skills translate to government?

Anyone who has worked in business knows that to get anything done, you need to bring people along with you. These relationships are what make women effective in business, and could make us doubly effective in government, where nothing gets done without a consensus.

In the words of our nation's first female secretary of state, Madeline Albright: "I believe that societies are better off when women are politically and economically empowered... When you have more women, the tone of the conversation changes, and the goals of the conversation change."

What do you think this election means for women? For everyone?

* * *

[1] "The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women's Representation on Boards," Catalyst report 2007

[2] "Women Matter" McKinsey & Company report, 2007

  Obama Romney
Obama Romney
332 206
Obama leading
Obama won
Romney leading
Romney won
Popular Vote
33 out of 100 seats are up for election. 51 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Holdover
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats* Republicans
Current Senate 53 47
Seats gained or lost +2 -2
New Total 55 45
* Includes two independent senators expected to caucus with the Democrats: Angus King (Maine) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.).
All 435 seats are up for election. 218 are needed for a majority.
Democrat leading
Democrat won
Republican leading
Republican won
Democrats Republicans
Seats won 201 234
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