September 26, 2014- by Jean Jordan - The Leadership California Institute recently released its inaugural report, “Women 2014: An Examination of the Status of Women in California State and Local Government.” What they found is that women are still largely underrepresented in city, county and state government.
Today in California, women make up 50.3 percent of the population and 46 percent of the labor force, but comprise only 25 percent of all county boards of supervisors. Forty percent of California’s counties have only one female supervisor and 13 California counties are governed by all-male boards. “Women 2014” also takes a look at the ethnic diversity of female county officials and found that only 6 percent are Latinas, 3 percent are Asian /Pacific Islanders, and 0 percent are African American.
The purpose of the report is to provide a baseline for further discussion regarding creating opportunities to enhance women’s political representation. The report also takes a look at the backgrounds of female officials. Currently, 22.5 percent of female county officials hail from the business world, 12.7 percent from government, 8.5 percent are attorneys and 8.5 percent come from education. A myriad of other professions represent small percentages, while 11.3 percent are unknown.
Now that the report has been published, The Leadership California Institute will be working across the state to host regional forums to continue this important dialogue. The Institute aspires to accomplish three things: increase the number of female elected officials, target geographic areas where there are no or few females elected officials, and last, conduct further research into why certain professions tend to produce more successful female candidates than others.
Throughout my career, I have benefited from those who broke the glass ceiling before me. Yet, still it is clear we have a long way to go, especially in local government. The female supervisors I am privileged to know are great examples of women leaders at the local level, who bring so many skills and diverse points of view to the governing process. I hope their example encourages more women to run for office. To that end, the women leaders of California counties have formed the Women’s Leadership Forum. This group gathers elected and non-elected female leaders to discuss these important and emerging issues. For more information about the forum go to http://www.counties.org/womens-leadership-forum.
You can download the report at www.leadershipcaliforniainstitute.org.
“Because man and woman are the complement of one another, we need woman’s thought in national affairs to make a safe and stable government.”
– Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Source: California State Association of Counties