1984 with Dr. Penelope Culbreth-Graft, Culbreth Associates

Posted on February 12, 2015

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Report: Glass Ceiling Still Strong in Local Government

30 years and no change in the percent (13%) of women managers in local government. It’s time for a change. We’re asking you for your perspective and ideas for action. In the next several months, we’ll introduce a series of initiatives to address the 13 percent issue.

 Dr. Penelope Culbreth-Graft


Culbreth Associates


Where were you in 1984?

I was working as a management analyst for a police department and giving birth to my one and only child.
Describe your view of whether local government has been effective in attracting a diverse workforce.
Diversity and attracting minorities and women: as local government managers were are not so good at this, as the statistics will show; to some degree I believe the required amount of education could also be responsible for this, as it serves as a gatekeeper on who gets in and who doesn’t
Wave a magic wand and give us three suggestions for improving diversity in the local government workforce.

  • Connect with Women Leading Government, a national organization of ICMA that we created specifically to help women in local government and be a supporting network;
  • Help sponsor minority students with small scholarships to complete their MPA degrees (I know you are a non-profit but all of us in the profession need to help with this);
  • I’m gulping on this one but I believe we need to work with the media to change how they treat females and minorities (and local governments generally), as they tend to butcher their reputations without doing sufficient research—just for the sake of readership. My female managers watch this and tell me, “Why would I want to subject myself to that?”

Who are the professionals that you look up to?

  • Frank Benest
  • George Caravalho
  • Richard Rowe
  • Jan Perkins

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