Election Day was only last week, though to some of us it feels longer.   Overall, as many suspected, fewer women were actually elected to Congress than had been the case in 30 years. Some of the highest-profile women we tracked, such as California’s Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina, Florida’s Alex Sink and Missouri’s Robin Carnahan, didn’t make it. Others pulled through, though, and a few new power women came on board, such as New Hampshire’s new  Senator Kelly Ayotte and Terri Sewell, 45, whose precedent-shattering victory made her the  first African-American member of Congress from Alabama. Full roundup on the winners and losers here, courtesy of the Center for American Women and Politics.

As you probably noticed, this election season we’ve been a big booster of the  Name It Change It campaign against media sexism. Name It Change It ended the campaign season by bestowing its first Awards For Most Sexist Media Coverage. The competition was fierce–and we’re not talking about paid ads. Among the top winners:  the Los Alamos Monitor’s coverage of the  New Mexico gubernatorial race between Democratic candidate Diane Denish and Republican candidate Susana Martinez, which characterized the two candidates debating policies as  “bitch-slapping” and mud wrestling: “So far these ladies have displayed such lack of class we’re beginning to think, ‘strip down and get ‘er on, gals’.”  As for TV–also a competitive category–David Letterman managed to break ahead with his Election Night Top Ten list,  which included “Nancy Pelosi found in hotel room drunk and naked with Charlie Sheen.” The Women’s Media Center notes that Pelosi is the only woman even mentioned, and that the ‘quip’ is triply offensive, since it “make[s] light of a real life sexually violent incident in which a woman was allegedly held against her will.”  Read the rest (at the Awards link above) to relive the rest of the highlights — or to act further, since there are some in the media already denying that sexism was a problem in this campaign.

Even before this week, many nonpartisan organizations concerned with women’s political representation were on the case.  The Women’s Campaign Fund, a sponsor of Name It Change It, last month declared a “State of Emergency for women candidates,”  closed its offices and went out into the field to work in campaign offices. Afterward, it convened a summit on “Disaster Relief for Women’s Representation,” with attendees including both organizations and former candidates and winners, such as Alabama’s Terri Sewell.

For years, WCF’s She Should Run campaign has offered fellowships and training to women interested in getting involved, as have many statewide WCFs (including the Pennsylvania WCF, which produced the linked dual image at the top of this post for their bumper sticker). So does The White House Project, whose explicit aim is to further the day when the United States joins Iceland, Germany, India and many other nations who have had female chief executives.

Joining them this year is a new initiative, created to make sure that never again will there be fewer women in elected office than the term before. The Center for American Women in Politics has launched the 2012 Project, a new effort spearheaded by San Francisco consultant Mary Hughes. “Many women feel a primary responsibility for their family,”  Hughes told Women’s eNews last month. “This has created a two-track life for gifted women; they are forced to make accommodations.” Perhaps not surprisingly, Hughes makes no secret of who she’s targeting as potential candidates: women over 45, whom we’re willing to bet are ready to stop accommodating and start making change. Below, the Project asks women legislators “Why did you run?” Watch, get inspired, and ask yourself: “Why not me?”


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