This new report examines women’s status in state cabinets nationwide, identifies trends in women’s appointments and provides specific advice on tapping women’s talent for these critical management seats.
Women’s Campaign Forum Foundation (WCF Foundation) has identified a unique opportunity for the next wave of governors to “unlock the cabinet” and ensure that talented women are equitably represented in the appointed leadership of their states.
Advancing Women's Appointments
WCF Foundation set out to understand the status of women in the most influential state-level appointed roles with the launch of our research, "Unlocking the Cabinet: Where Women Stand in State Appointments and Where We Need Them to Go."
The results revealed that gender equity in appointments is attainable, but requires a firm commitment from governors and their staff; partner organizations; and women seeking appointments.
Appointments matter – fewer women in appointed offices results in a different policy agenda, process and outcome. What’s at stake:
- In many senses, appointed leaders run the state. They oversee a broad array of policy areas and functional operations, ranging from education and healthcare to utilities and lotteries. In some states, it takes thousands of appointees to get these jobs done.
- Appointees control the cash. In an average state, cabinet leaders collectively manage $12.5 billion of the state’s budget.
- Women appointees make a difference. By appointing women, savvy governors ensure the perspectives of women and families are equally represented. These governors wisely utilize the talents of their state’s women to produce more expansive policies, processes and outcomes.
On average, male cabinet appointees outnumber women cabinet appointees in our states by a ratio of two to one. A snapshot of their status in 2007:
- On the cabinet level, women hold a net average of 31% of appointments in the states.
- In some states, such as Texas and New Hampshire, not a single cabinet seat is held by a woman.
- “Traditional” positions are still the rule, with women holding more than 50% of cabinet positions in areas such as education and human services and less than 20% in areas such as military affairs and corrections.
WCF Foundation swiftly turned insight into action-and launched the Appoint Her program to redress this imbalance. It is the first ever national resource for women seeking appointed roles. You can find stories of women who’ve served in appointed office, tips for how to position yourself to serve, and paths to office for women at all points in their careers.
Unlocking the Cabinet would not have been possible without our donors, including among others:
Susie Tompkins Buell Foundation