Travels With Zoe: #13Percent & Prague

Posted on June 20, 2016

This is the third part of a multi-part series chronicling Zoe Monahan’s travels to the ICMA International Regional Summit.

Prague 2016 092Saturday was a beautiful day in Prague. I woke up feeling excited about the last day of the conference! I was excited because Pat Martel, ICMA President was going to speak about women in local government management leadership which is topic of great interest to me.

Pat did not disappoint, she shared a number of interesting facts about women in the city management profession:

  • It has been 30 years since women started to made up 50% of college graduates
  • 5% of S&P 500 companies have female CEOs
  • 19% of U.S. congressional seats are filled by women
  • 15.3% of city managers are women
  • 37.2% of assistant city managers are women
  • More women are graduating from Public Administration programs
  • Pat Martel is only the third female ICMA President

Prague 2016 073Additionally, she noted that some women are choosing to stay at the assistant city manager level and more research and data is needed on the topic. Pat commented that ICMA members need to support and encourage female assistant city managers by helping to build their confidence and provide training through mentorships. Pat also suggested that more progress needs to be made with elected officials since they make the hiring decisions for city manager positions. She noted that there are benefits to having women in leadership roles and research suggests that teams led by women are more balanced, more committed, and have higher results.

Perspectives from European countries were also shared, many are struggling with the same issue. In Sweden, 30% of city managers are female and 37% of mayors are female. Sweden seems to have some work – life balance challenges figured out; they offer amazing family benefits including a year and a half of paid leave per family per child, free healthcare and free education. They do feel that they can still learn from the U.S to work toward adding more diversity to their workforce.

Prague 2016 087As an early career professional, this conversation was of great value to me. It is encouraging to hear the call to action for city managers to work with women to help them gain the confidence and training needed to take the leap into the chief executive position.

In addition to the women in local government management presentation and other interesting topics and conversations, I had the opportunity to meet and talk with ICMA International Committee members, ICMA Board members, current and former city managers from around the United States, Europe, and Australia. I was delighted to hear their stories and see their commitment to ICMA as an organization and the city manager profession. These individuals have committed their time to serve and actively participate in multiple meetings, projects and conferences while continuing to do their regular day jobs.  I was truly inspired and grateful to have the opportunity to attend the 2016 ICMA International Regional Summit.

The next few days will be filled with study tours and more networking!

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