In a recent article from Governing magazine, “Why Women’s Presence in Politics Has Stagnated,” I was unpleasantly surprised to see female legislators are still at the same percentage level, roughly, as they were in 1997. What an unpleasant discovery it was to read that. I believe a lot of us just assumed progress was going on. And unfortunately legislative positions do not seem to be the only areas of lag. Of the over 9,000 International City/County Management Association members only 23% are women. Even more depressing is that the percentage of women in those chief administrative positions have reminded dismally consistent at 13% since 1981.
I feel I am part of the problem as without organization’s such as The Legacy Project in Illinois or other data gathering entities I would still be rolling along feeling it is all getting better. Sadly, without a conscious, focused effort and review of government culture, either as individual entities or overall, along with data mining, progress will not magically come. How do we know this? Numbers don’t lie.
And just in case equity isn’t a motivator within your organization, women bring a dynamic into an organization’s culture that is often extremely conducive to increased positive customer service, increased return on investment, etc. So if you are not motivated by social progress, there is certainly enough data out there showing more women in leadership positions equate to increased profitability and in the case of government, wise use of tax payer dollars.
The graph below is going on three years old, but based on the figures I’ve seen lately is a fair visual representation providing a great overview of where the U.S. stands internationally when it comes to government and non-government female management. It is an additional indicator demonstrating how far U.S. government entities have fallen behind.