ICMA President and Daly City, California, City Manager Patricia Martel discussed the progress of ICMA’s work to encourage diversity and inclusion within the local government management profession with several cohorts of the Governing Institute’s Women in Government Fellowship Program on July 1.
During the hour-long discussion, Martel provided the following updates and observations based on April 2016 ICMA data regarding the local government management profession and the role of gender:
- Between 1981 and 2011, roughly 13% of ICMA women members in service to local government were at the CAO level. Over the years, that the number has increased only slightly.*
- As of April 2016, among the 6,617 ICMA members working for U.S. local government full time, 28.5% (1,886) are women. Roughly 3,400 of the 6,617 are CAOs, of which 15% are women. Among the 1,100 ICMA members who serve at the assistant or deputy CAO level, 37.2 % (409) are women.
- The biggest obstacle to hiring women CAOs may be elected officials. ICMA hopes to work with other organizations, specifically the National League of Cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, to educate elected officials and engage them in actively recruiting and hiring women CAOs.
- There are some countries that embrace the concept of women in top local government leadership positions. for example, among the 290 municipalities in Sweden, 30% have women chief executives, and 37% have women mayors.
- One way of fostering gender diversity and inclusion is to encourage women to get into the community pipeline early by serving on appointed advisory boards and commissions.
ICMA is deeply invested in supporting the advancement of women in the profession, and measuring progress is a key component to our efforts. To access the most recent data on the number of ICMA women member CAOs throughout the U.S., check out the infographics posted on icma.org. Also download a copy of the “Final Report on the Status of Women in the Profession,” prepared by ICMA’s Task Force on Women in the Profession.
A three-year-old initiative of ICMA media partner Governing magazine and e.Republic, The Governing Institute focuses on “improving state and local government performance and strengthening public-sector innovation, leadership, and citizen engagement.” The Institute’s Women in Government Fellowship Program cultivates and supports future elected women leaders.
*According to ICMA’s 2012 State of the Profession Survey, among all local government CAOs regardless of ICMA membership, 19% were women.