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.
Ontario Municipal Utilities — Assistant Engineer/Project Manager
Where were you in 1984?
I wasn’t born yet, and sadly, I’ve been made to feel like this should embarrass me. So often I am not taken seriously because of my age (and perhaps my gender). Instead, shouldn’t we be celebrating young people in the workforce?
Describe your view of whether local government has been effective in attracting a diverse workforce (women, minorities, etc.)?
We have a long way to go. I work in a progressive City that has been supportive of women in many roles, yet there are no women in the top several levels of leadership.
Wave a magic wand and give us three suggestions for improving diversity in the local government workforce.
Work-Life Balance. Society expects women to fulfill two roles: successful career woman and doting wife/mother. I am frequently asked how I manage to make dinner for my husband when I am away from home 12 hours a day for work (for what it’s worth, he makes his own dinner). When women try to strike a balance, they are often hit with opposition, so they leave the workforce. I know two government workers who left for other jobs because they were not granted flexible work hours to care for their children. Support and flexibility would go a long way in welcoming women into the work force and preserving their presence. Women are often seen as weaker because of their tie to the home; I think women are stronger because they tackle two unique roles.
“Advertise” to Minorities. People have a choice in where they work, just like consumers have a choice in where they shop. For example, to attract more women, consider improving lighting in the parking lot to promote safety when employees walk to their cars alone at night.
Hiring. Hiring should be done based on the best fit for the position, regardless of age, gender, etc. However, employers should strive to recognize how talents might manifest themselves differently in minorities.
Give us the names of the local government professionals that you look up to.
Mayor Bill Currier of Adair Village, Oregon. Mayor Currier turned a sleepy town in a financially stable City that was the fastest growing in the state. One of his advisors is a woman (and former mayor). Mayor Currier is also my father and a big part of the reason that I am in local government.
Greg Devereaux, former City Manager of Ontario, California. Mr. Devereaux changed the trajectory of the City and maintained economic stability in a very tough time. When other cities went bankrupt, Ontario avoided laying off staff.
I could only think of two, and it might be telling that neither of these are minorities.
1984 – The Archives
- Kristen Crane, City of Del Mar, CA
- Megan Smit, County of Cabarrus, NC
- Polly Hulsey, College of Southern Idaho
- Benjamin DeClue, City of Lebanon, MO
- Whitney Rhodes, Pierce County, WA
- Carmen Mays, City of Spartanburg, SC
- Diedra Lane, City of Tallahassee, FL
- Sarah Bledsoe, Village of Rye Brook, NY
- Michelle Daniels, City of Henderson, NC
- Dr. Penelope Culbreth-Graft, Culbreth Associates