How women suffer under winner-take-allWomen comprise over 50% of the population of the United States but make up only about 14% of Congress. As of 2005, there were 65/435 (14.9%) representatives and 14/100 (14.0%) senators. These statistics represent a real problem. Women in the United States have an extremely diluted presence in Congress. Legislation is handed down that that directly affects their lives, careers and bodies, yet they have little influence on these laws. Above and beyond traditional issues, female representatives have successfully addressed gender sensitive topics related to education and employment, domestic violence, and child support laws. They are supported by women’s political organizations that often focus around issues of reproduction, health care, civil rights and other important social issues. Despite all the advantages of having women representatives, the percentage of women in Congress plateaus below 15% and the refuses to increase. Based on percentage of women in the upper and lower house, The Inter-Parliamentary Union ranked the United States 59th out of 121 countries in the world for representation of women. Countries ahead of the United States include Rwanda, Cuba, South Africa, Vietnam, Pakistan, China and Bosnia.
The winner-take-all election system is what prevents women from legislative upward mobility. Studies have shown that when women run for election, they are as likely to win as men, but winner-take-all can often prevent them from even being nominated. Under a system which protects incumbents, it is very difficult for women to find viable seats to stand for. Often parties will not run qualified women candidates because they believe it disadvantages them in the general election. When elections are in single-member districts, it is very difficult for the central party to exercise influence over the overall number of women standing for election. In this context, voters who prefer women candidates are forced to conform or “spoil” their vote. In a closely divided election, voters will vote for whichever candidate is most likely to win; in most cases this means the male candidate. But there is a solution. In the book "Reflecting All of Us: The Case for Proportional Representation," Harvard Law professor Lani Guinier writes: "What America needs is a system that disperses power more broadly. Ultimately, proportional and semi-proportional systems reflect ideas of cooperation and rotation-the importance of public access to power . . . It is about transforming how power itself is exercised and shared."