I Have to Ask You: Still Fighting Like Hell and Winning

Benjamin Bitter wrote about Changing Career Aspirations: The Perspective of a Dad. Laura Hardwicke, Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, discussed Misconceptions About Federal Grants. Today, Ashley Jacobs, Aiken County, SC, highlights what’s changed since her 2015 article #13Percent: Fight Like Hell Dammit, and Win!.


By Ashley Jacobs, Assistant County Administrator, Aiken County, SC

Since I wrote that article in 2015, I’ve heard more women speaking out against sexism and misogyny.  There’s much more awareness of mansplaining and manterrupting, and general aggression towards women in the workplace.

Also since that time, I’ve joined the Board of League of Women in Government, and we’ve established a regular event at the International City/County Management Association annual conference to address women’s issues.  We’ve also created a presence on social media and many new chapters of Women Leading Government across the country.  We’ve had excellent discussion and participation in the South Carolina chapter, and recently had commitments from members to host events, so I’m excited about that.

One other success I’ve had in the past couple of years is pairing women in mentor relationships.  I’ve also connected with Dr. Leisha DeHart Davis at UNC-Chapel Hill, co-director of the Engaging Women program, and she’s been a phenomenal resource and inspiration.  She hosted a webinar for us in May, and participated in our roundtable at SCCCMA, and her students are working on the ELGL Diversity Dashboard.

The next challenge is to educate city and county council members, the people who hire city and county managers, and make them aware of gender balance, and the benefits of hiring women.  People tend to be surprised when they learn about the low numbers of women in leadership positions and the sexism that professional women experience.  They think that equality is a box that was checked a long time ago.

Another challenge is getting women to apply for the jobs.  There are several women in our state who have the potential to move into the CAO position, but they’re wavering on whether or not to submit an application.  I’m pushing them to apply, because they’ve earned a place at the table.  They have the education, and skills, and the experience, and now they need encouragement and support.


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