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When Women Win: EMILY’s List and the Rise of Women in American Politics

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The dramatic inside story of the rise of women in elected office over the past quarter-century, from the pioneering founder of three-million-member EMILY's List — one of the most influential players in today’s political landscape  In 1985, aware of the near-total absence of women in Congress, Ellen R. Malcolm launched EMILY’s List, a powerhouse political organization that The dramatic inside story of the rise of women in elected office over the past quarter-century, from the pioneering founder of three-million-member EMILY's List — one of the most influential players in today’s political landscape  In 1985, aware of the near-total absence of women in Congress, Ellen R. Malcolm launched EMILY’s List, a powerhouse political organization that seeks to ignite change by getting women elected to office. The rest is riveting history: Between 1986 — when there were only 12 Democratic women in the House and none in the Senate — and now, EMILY’s List has helped elect 19 women Senators, 11 governors, and 110 Democratic women to the House.    Incorporating exclusive interviews with Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Tammy Baldwin, and others, When Women Win delivers stories of some of the toughest political contests of the past three decades, including the historic victory of Barbara Mikulski as the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right; the defeat of Todd Akin (“legitimate rape”) by Claire McCaskill; and Elizabeth Warren’s dramatic win over incumbent Massachusetts senator Scott Brown.    When Women Win includes Malcolm's own story — the high drama of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment testimony against Clarence Thomas and its explosive effects on women’s engagement in electoral politics; the long nights spent watching the polls after months of dogged campaigning; the heartbreaking losses and unprecedented victories — but it’s also a page-turning political saga that may well lead up to the election of the first woman president of the United States.      


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The dramatic inside story of the rise of women in elected office over the past quarter-century, from the pioneering founder of three-million-member EMILY's List — one of the most influential players in today’s political landscape  In 1985, aware of the near-total absence of women in Congress, Ellen R. Malcolm launched EMILY’s List, a powerhouse political organization that The dramatic inside story of the rise of women in elected office over the past quarter-century, from the pioneering founder of three-million-member EMILY's List — one of the most influential players in today’s political landscape  In 1985, aware of the near-total absence of women in Congress, Ellen R. Malcolm launched EMILY’s List, a powerhouse political organization that seeks to ignite change by getting women elected to office. The rest is riveting history: Between 1986 — when there were only 12 Democratic women in the House and none in the Senate — and now, EMILY’s List has helped elect 19 women Senators, 11 governors, and 110 Democratic women to the House.    Incorporating exclusive interviews with Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Tammy Baldwin, and others, When Women Win delivers stories of some of the toughest political contests of the past three decades, including the historic victory of Barbara Mikulski as the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate in her own right; the defeat of Todd Akin (“legitimate rape”) by Claire McCaskill; and Elizabeth Warren’s dramatic win over incumbent Massachusetts senator Scott Brown.    When Women Win includes Malcolm's own story — the high drama of Anita Hill’s sexual harassment testimony against Clarence Thomas and its explosive effects on women’s engagement in electoral politics; the long nights spent watching the polls after months of dogged campaigning; the heartbreaking losses and unprecedented victories — but it’s also a page-turning political saga that may well lead up to the election of the first woman president of the United States.      

58 review for When Women Win: EMILY’s List and the Rise of Women in American Politics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    20 percent of Congress is women. Unbelievable. What a different world it might be if it was 50 percent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I noticed how EMILY's list and the author hailed Anita Hill as a hero and excoriated the Republicans who dismissed her sexual harassment claims against Clarence Thomas, then went on to downplay and sugarcoat the sexual harassment (and flat out sexual assault) Bill Clinton was accused of by multiple women. This type of hypocrisy shows the flaws in the mainstream feminist, pro-abortion movement. I noticed how EMILY's list and the author hailed Anita Hill as a hero and excoriated the Republicans who dismissed her sexual harassment claims against Clarence Thomas, then went on to downplay and sugarcoat the sexual harassment (and flat out sexual assault) Bill Clinton was accused of by multiple women. This type of hypocrisy shows the flaws in the mainstream feminist, pro-abortion movement.

  3. 4 out of 5

    gaudeo

    This is a fascinating story of the origin and rise of the single most influential force that has put women in Congress, written by one of its founders and its first leader. Written in a "you are there" style, it is exciting even when we know the outcome of so many of the races described. It's sure to generate even more members for EMILY's List, and rightly should! Highly recommended reading. This is a fascinating story of the origin and rise of the single most influential force that has put women in Congress, written by one of its founders and its first leader. Written in a "you are there" style, it is exciting even when we know the outcome of so many of the races described. It's sure to generate even more members for EMILY's List, and rightly should! Highly recommended reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ms.Caprioli

    The introduction moved me to tears. Not because it was particularly well written or because it revealed a heart-breaking event, but because it was written with the hope and near certainty many of us had that we'd have a woman serving as President by the time it went into bookstores. The book itself has no surprises for those who have been following women in politics for the last 20 years. It does have lots of information about what to do to support women who are running for office. It also shows The introduction moved me to tears. Not because it was particularly well written or because it revealed a heart-breaking event, but because it was written with the hope and near certainty many of us had that we'd have a woman serving as President by the time it went into bookstores. The book itself has no surprises for those who have been following women in politics for the last 20 years. It does have lots of information about what to do to support women who are running for office. It also shows how to "follow the money" by getting money early. What is most disappointing about the book is its self-serving nature. Malcolm calls Biden's actions during the Thomas-Hill hearings "not his finest moment." Indeed! Also, perhaps cynically, I saw the turn-around EMILY's List made with Carol Mosley Brown as an attempt to conceal its initial lukewarm support for women of color. I felt that the latter comparison of Ms. Mosley Brown to the Tea Party supports my assumption. I hope I'm wrong, but I've learned to notice certain attitudes hidden in pretty words over the years. Perhaps I'm nitpicking. And yet, when a champion of women in politics makes the decision to refer to a female senator by her given name (Patty, referring to Sen. Murray) and to a male senator by his last name (Ryan, as in Sen. Paul Ryan) in the same sentence, ("Patty and Paul focused on common ground") my heart sinks. We have a long way to go. Then again, thanks to Malcolm and her organization, we've come a long way. There were less than 5% of members of Congress, of either party, who were women the year I was born. Women now make 20% of Congress. I hope we can get to 50% in my lifetime. And I certainly hope there can be a reprint of this book when we elect the first female President of the United States. Let's hope I don't have to wait another 40 years for that.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rashmi

    There isn't a better time than now (the 2016 election) to read When Women Win by Ellen R. Malcolm, the founder of Emily's List. Emily's List has done a fantastic job since they came into being in 1985. They have helped elect 110 women in the House and 19 to the Senate and more than 700 women to state and local offices. They helped elect the first Democratic woman to the Senate, Barbara Mikulski. They have elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator and first women to represent Wisconsin, Tammy Bal There isn't a better time than now (the 2016 election) to read When Women Win by Ellen R. Malcolm, the founder of Emily's List. Emily's List has done a fantastic job since they came into being in 1985. They have helped elect 110 women in the House and 19 to the Senate and more than 700 women to state and local offices. They helped elect the first Democratic woman to the Senate, Barbara Mikulski. They have elected the first openly gay U.S. Senator and first women to represent Wisconsin, Tammy Baldwin; the first woman senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren; first Asian American woman to serve in the Senate, Hawaii's Mazie Hirono. More than a third of the women Emily's list have elected, are women of color. They help elect pro-choice democratic women. Love it. Reading the book you will find so many names in the Senate and the U.S. congress that will be familiar and how much women have achieved. To quote Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) during the thirtieth anniversary gala of Emily's List in 2015 - "In the past seven years, the average woman senator introduced ninety seven bills, the average man seventy. The average woman senator had more that nine co-sponsors for her legislation: the average man had fewer than six. Even though there were twenty women in the Senate, when the Democrats were in control, nine out of the twenty committees in the Senate were chaired by women." The list of accomplishments goes on.........

  6. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was a cathartic read in light of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The books starts in the 1980s with the birth of EMILY's List and the circumstances that gave rise to it, and ended with Obama in office and women like Elizabeth Warren being elected to Congress. I would love to read an updated version with EMILY's List's fight during the 2016 election and their reaction to Hillary Clinton's loss. The book was incredibly informative: as a child of the 90's, I never knew that Repu This was a cathartic read in light of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. The books starts in the 1980s with the birth of EMILY's List and the circumstances that gave rise to it, and ended with Obama in office and women like Elizabeth Warren being elected to Congress. I would love to read an updated version with EMILY's List's fight during the 2016 election and their reaction to Hillary Clinton's loss. The book was incredibly informative: as a child of the 90's, I never knew that Republicans used to be more centrist, and it used to be okay for a Republican candidate to be pro-choice. I could have easily looked up the outcome of the races discussed in the book, but I enjoyed rooting for the candidates along with Ellen Malcolm and EMILY's List, and celebrating when they won. Definitely a good book for anyone interested in seeing more women in politics, or learning about how they got there in the first place.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Allison Berkowitz

    I started reading this the morning after RBG died. With so much fear over the future of the Supreme Court it felt so good to be reminded of all the progress we have made for women over the years. I personally have a few issues with the modern functions of EMILY's list, but learning about how instrumental they were in quite a few important races and getting more women in office over the years was great. it was also really interesting learning about the paths of some of the female politicians a re I started reading this the morning after RBG died. With so much fear over the future of the Supreme Court it felt so good to be reminded of all the progress we have made for women over the years. I personally have a few issues with the modern functions of EMILY's list, but learning about how instrumental they were in quite a few important races and getting more women in office over the years was great. it was also really interesting learning about the paths of some of the female politicians a really adore such as Barbara Mikulski, Mazie Hirono, and Elizabeth Warren.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Gina Christo

    Often we forget that adding women into the political sphere took more than just time and evolving opinions; it took hard, disciplined work from women within the democratic party. When Women Win chronicles that story in a way everyone can appreciate. In a time when it feels like the world is ending, this book reminds us that with hard word and determination, women can and will be the change.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patricia Farley

    This was an excellent book written by the founder of EMILY'S LIST. If you are interested in the history of women in American politics, it's a must read. This was an excellent book written by the founder of EMILY'S LIST. If you are interested in the history of women in American politics, it's a must read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    So, first thing's first: this is a very specific history. When Women Win is a history of women in politics, but it is specifically a history of democratic, prochoice women in politics that have been assisted by EMILY's List, and it reads more like a biography of the organization rather than a history of women in politics, at that. I didn't necessarily mind that - I've heard a lot about EMILY's List since the 2016 election and wasn't opposed to learning more about it - but it does make the title So, first thing's first: this is a very specific history. When Women Win is a history of women in politics, but it is specifically a history of democratic, prochoice women in politics that have been assisted by EMILY's List, and it reads more like a biography of the organization rather than a history of women in politics, at that. I didn't necessarily mind that - I've heard a lot about EMILY's List since the 2016 election and wasn't opposed to learning more about it - but it does make the title somewhat misleading, as that was not what I was expecting when I purchased the book. That being said, When Women Win is well written, explains the background and politics of various periods of modern politics, chronicles the reasons behind the gender representation gap between the two major parties, and is careful to explain why electing women - and women in particular, when all things are equal (which they usually are) - has proven to be helpful in improving bipartisanship, supporting the middle class and families, supporting women as a class of citizens, and generally improving the general life circumstances for all.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Super fascinating to read about the stories of democratic women in congress over the past 30ish years. I was nervous it would end all yay HRC and be sad to read now since it was published in October but it didn't discuss it much, so that was good. It did have a white feminist sort of feel though, even when talking about working with women of color but it still was just missing something there. Which I guess makes sense for an org like EMILY's list but I don't love that. Super fascinating to read about the stories of democratic women in congress over the past 30ish years. I was nervous it would end all yay HRC and be sad to read now since it was published in October but it didn't discuss it much, so that was good. It did have a white feminist sort of feel though, even when talking about working with women of color but it still was just missing something there. Which I guess makes sense for an org like EMILY's list but I don't love that.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Toby Murphy

    Hoping for a bit more as it got repetitive after a while. The book tended to focus more on the races rather than individual women. It gave accessible insight into the political process and I’m hoping there would be an update for it.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

    Excellent book that outlines the creation and work of EMILY's List since its inception in 1985. It was refreshing to read much of women's history in politics all in one place and from the perspective of pro-choice, Democratic women. Excellent book that outlines the creation and work of EMILY's List since its inception in 1985. It was refreshing to read much of women's history in politics all in one place and from the perspective of pro-choice, Democratic women.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Steven Yenzer

    A good account of the inception and record of EMILY’s List, marred by uneven and even occasionally confusing writing.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Saghi Hosseini

    Ellen Malcom gives a great account of women in politics and the creation of Emily's List. My hero. Ellen Malcom gives a great account of women in politics and the creation of Emily's List. My hero.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rama

    How a women’s group like EMILY’s List has changed the way America works This is an inside story from one of the principal founders of EMILY’s List, Ellen R. Malcolm that chronicles the beginnings and the raise of a powerful women’s organization. Formed in 1985 as a political action committee (PAC) to provide “pro-choice” female Democratic candidates with "seed" money to run for state and federal offices, EMILY's List has become more than a women's PAC. Over the past 30 years, Ellen Malcolm and a How a women’s group like EMILY’s List has changed the way America works This is an inside story from one of the principal founders of EMILY’s List, Ellen R. Malcolm that chronicles the beginnings and the raise of a powerful women’s organization. Formed in 1985 as a political action committee (PAC) to provide “pro-choice” female Democratic candidates with "seed" money to run for state and federal offices, EMILY's List has become more than a women's PAC. Over the past 30 years, Ellen Malcolm and a cadre of liberal feminist activists have transformed this movement into a political powerhouse. EMILY's List stands for "Early Money Is like Yeast" (raises dough). It is a political cliché based on a simple marketing strategy that receiving donations early in the race leads to more donors later. This group sends contributions to the campaigns of pro-choice Democratic women running in targeted races around the country. The 1985 meeting in the home of Ellen Malcolm included very powerful democratic women like Barbara Boxer, Ann Richards, Anne Wexler, and Donna Shalala. The book is essentially a historical document that describes the growth of EMILY’s List as a political organization that defends the reproductive rights of women. The book includes several interviews with leading women of the Democratic Party but does not detail its “candidate selection process” or the way its endorsement process works. In a demonstration of its political muscle, Emily’s group backed Congresswoman Barbara Mikulski of Maryland in her bid to win the senate race in 1986. Barbara Mikulski became the first Democratic woman elected to the Senate from MD, and currently she is a senior senator and a ranking minority member. In 2012, 80% of the candidates endorsed by EMILY's List in the general election were victorious including senators; Claire McCaskill (MO), Elizabeth Warren (MA), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Mazie Hirono (HI), Amy Klobuchar (MN), Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Maggie Hassan in the NH Gubernatorial race. EMILY's List has endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. presidential election as it did in the 2008 bid. In 2010, Professor Jamie Pamelia Pimlott of Niagara University published her work chronicling the founding of Emily’s list under the title, “Women and the Democratic Party: The Evolution of EMILY's List. The current book by the groups’ founder Ellen Malcolm makes another interesting reading. I recommend this to anyone interested in Emily’s List or women’s movement in American politics. “When women win” is an insightful look at how women are transforming government, politics, and the workforce, and how they are using that power shift to effect change in American lives.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Chris Wellens

    I really enjoyed this book and would give it five stars, except that I don't think it is for everyone. I am an entrepreneur, a female, and a pro-choice liberal. This book spoke to me. EMILY's List really was a start-up company, targeting a niche market, with a very specific value proposition. I enjoyed learning about all the facets of the decision making process in the beginning and through the growth of the organization. One of the most fascinating things I learned from the book is that back in I really enjoyed this book and would give it five stars, except that I don't think it is for everyone. I am an entrepreneur, a female, and a pro-choice liberal. This book spoke to me. EMILY's List really was a start-up company, targeting a niche market, with a very specific value proposition. I enjoyed learning about all the facets of the decision making process in the beginning and through the growth of the organization. One of the most fascinating things I learned from the book is that back in the 1980s, in almost all cases, if a woman ran for a political office, she needed the backing of the party establishment -- to open doors, make introductions, provide the infrastructure, and help raise the money. But, in the 1980s, the men running the local party establishment did not take women candidates seriously, so the women were always shut out of the connections and infrastructure in favor of a male candidate -- even if that candidate was less qualified. EMILY's list was there to help the women get started financially to bootstrap their way into the process.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    Ellen R. Malcolm founded EMILY's List (Early Money is Like Yeast) in 1985 to help elect Democratic pro-choice women to Congress. They put together a fundraising organization to give female candidates the crucial early money to help them win primaries. Between 1986 — when there were only 12 Democratic women in the House and none in the Senate — and now, EMILY’s List has helped elect 19 women Senators, 11 governors, and 110 Democratic women to the House. Why I started this book: With a picture of Ellen R. Malcolm founded EMILY's List (Early Money is Like Yeast) in 1985 to help elect Democratic pro-choice women to Congress. They put together a fundraising organization to give female candidates the crucial early money to help them win primaries. Between 1986 — when there were only 12 Democratic women in the House and none in the Senate — and now, EMILY’s List has helped elect 19 women Senators, 11 governors, and 110 Democratic women to the House. Why I started this book: With a picture of Hillary Clinton on the cover of the audio, I figured that I should listen to this book before the election. Why I finished it: So I'm not sure if it was my copy of the audio or the book that was repetitive at the beginning of the book. I almost gave up, but I am so glad that I didn't because this was a powerful story that needs to be told. I had no idea the fight that it was to get women into Congress, and how that fight was in my lifetime and not my mother's.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    Reading this book reminded me of how far women have come in politics and the obstacles in the way of progress. I did not really understand how instrumental EMILY's List has been in bringing about stronger representation of women in American politics. A great book for anyone interested in politics and women's participation in the political process. Reading this book reminded me of how far women have come in politics and the obstacles in the way of progress. I did not really understand how instrumental EMILY's List has been in bringing about stronger representation of women in American politics. A great book for anyone interested in politics and women's participation in the political process.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Helen

    I chose this book to read because of my Read Harder Challenge. This book satisfied 2 requirements in that challenge because it is a book about feminist issues and it is a book about politics. This book was exciting to me to read because it contained a lot of recent history that I lived through.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    There is definitely a liberal bias to this book but that's to be expected, being that it centers around the growing role of women in American politics. Highly recommend to anyone who thinks that equal representation is important, but also those who take women and people of color being represented in the government for granted. There is definitely a liberal bias to this book but that's to be expected, being that it centers around the growing role of women in American politics. Highly recommend to anyone who thinks that equal representation is important, but also those who take women and people of color being represented in the government for granted.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Informative but the writing was pedestrian.

  23. 5 out of 5

    etherealfire

    Library Hardcover

  24. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Girard

  25. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

  26. 5 out of 5

    Luna

  27. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This made be feel like "where was I?" when all this was going on. I think I was dealing with young children and the struggle of balancing work and child-rearing, so I only heard about EMILY's List during the 2016 campaign. The results of that election showed a lot of us that we don't have the luxury to sit on the sidelines - we have to get politically involved. I loved learning about the history of EMILY's list - why it was needed, the struggles, the ups and downs. The point that hits home for me This made be feel like "where was I?" when all this was going on. I think I was dealing with young children and the struggle of balancing work and child-rearing, so I only heard about EMILY's List during the 2016 campaign. The results of that election showed a lot of us that we don't have the luxury to sit on the sidelines - we have to get politically involved. I loved learning about the history of EMILY's list - why it was needed, the struggles, the ups and downs. The point that hits home for me is that women have to keep up the struggle, as we are not represented equally by any measure. And, we have to continue the struggle even when we win, as our gains which we worked so long and hard to earn can quickly evaporate overnight in an election. It is worth reading just for the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill chapter. It shows that sometimes when we lose the battle, we can go on to win the war when a loss wakes people up. Highly recommend this book for everyone, men and women. It is very enlightening about our political process. Like it or now, it is our reality and we need to work with it in order to make progress.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elspeth Gibb

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shelly

  31. 5 out of 5

    Yudy Ramirez

  32. 4 out of 5

    Nanayoung

  33. 5 out of 5

    Katie/Doing Dewey

  34. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

  35. 5 out of 5

    Kim

  36. 5 out of 5

    mz

  37. 4 out of 5

    Leigh Koonce

  38. 5 out of 5

    Kate

  39. 4 out of 5

    Meals Minder

  40. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin Mintz

  41. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Grossl

  42. 4 out of 5

    Rae

  43. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

  44. 4 out of 5

    Veronica

  45. 4 out of 5

    Kerry Weinstein

  46. 4 out of 5

    Tara

  47. 4 out of 5

    Megan

  48. 4 out of 5

    Carlyn

  49. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  50. 4 out of 5

    Erin (The Grateful Poet)

  51. 5 out of 5

    Gillian Haley

  52. 4 out of 5

    Mariana Guerrero

  53. 5 out of 5

    Taylor

  54. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  55. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  56. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Park

  57. 5 out of 5

    Dylan

  58. 5 out of 5

    Megan

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