It's time we all start accepting, and publicly stating, what is clearly true: the Republican Party is institutionally sexist.
I'm not talking about policy. I'm talking about the regular, long-term, systemic lack of opportunities for women to advance within the institution.
It seems to me that if any large organization was found to hire, promote, and advance women only 10 to 15 percent of the time -- one woman hired or promoted for every eight to ten men -- over a period of many years, and if that rate was actually declining, then you would have to say that, barring some other clear prevailing justification, there is something institutionally sexist going on there.
As I've been chronicling for at least the past eight years, this is precisely the case with the national Republican Party.
Ninety percent of Republican US Senators are men. Ninety percent of Republican members of the House of Representatives are men. Ninety percent of new Republicans elected to Congress are men. Almost every leadership position among congressional Republicans is held by men.
Eighty-five percent of Republican state senators are men. Eighty-two percent of Republican state house members are men. Among new Republicans elected to state legislatures, the numbers are closer to 90 percent. Of 60 state legislative chambers under Republican majority control, just three, or five percent, have a woman speaker or president.
Of the major statewide executive elected positions -- governor, attorney general, secretary of state, treasurer, and auditor -- there are a total of 14 Republican women currently holding office anywhere in the country.
In 435 congressional districts, Republicans will nominate in 2012 at most 51 women, or 12 percent. At best, 29 of those (including 21 incumbents) have any realistic chance of winning office -- that is, they are in districts not considered safe Democratic seats. By my count, it is nearly impossible for the 2013 freshman Republican class to comprise more than 10 percent women.
For Democrats -- who, I would argue, still have a long way to go in overcoming their own longstanding institutional sexism -- the equivalent numbers for all of the above are roughly double (or more) that of the GOP, and generally moving in the direction of gender parity rather than greater disparity.
There are plenty of possible contributing factors to the enormously gender-tilted GOP outcomes, but none that offer anything close to clear prevailing justification.
It's also worth noting that there is no evidence that general-election
voters are less likely to vote for Republicans who are women, all else
being equal. In other words, it's not the non-Republicans' doing.
No, it seems pretty clear that if an analogous situation was present in any other organization or institution -- certainly a high-profile one -- there would be considerable public pressure on its leaders to explain the apparent discriminatory situation, and to demonstrate some serious effort to address the problem.
I would argue that similar pressure should be regularly brought to bear upon Republican leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker John Boehner, RNC chairman Reince Priebus, NRSC chairman John Cornyn, NRCC chairman Pete Sessions, RGA chairman Bob McDonnell, and RSLC president Chris Jankowski. (All of whom happen to be men.)