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Women Making Small Strides in State Government Posts
"Glass Ceiling in Gubernatorial Appointments, 1997-2007" outlines gains and losses by individual states

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

ALBANY, N.Y. (August 12, 2008) -- The percent of top-ranking executive leadership positions held by women in state government has increased since 1997, but women still lag far behind men in the number of governor-appointed leadership posts, according to a report from the University at Albany's Center for Women in Government and Civil Society (CWGCS). The report, Glass Ceiling in Gubernatorial Appointments, 1997-2007, documents that governors in the 50 U.S. states have appointed women to 34.9 percent of the executive posts in 2007, up from 28.3 percent in 1997, a 6.8 percentage point change over the 11-year period.
Montana, which had placed 17th in 1997, topped the list of representativeness for all 50 U.S. states in 2007, followed by Vermont, Connecticut, Washington and Alaska. Connecticut also saw the biggest advance, having ranked 46th in 1997 and third in 2007. South Dakota, which ranked 27th in 1997, fell to 50th for governor-appointed leadership posts in U.S. states. Louisiana, Wyoming, Idaho and Alabama rounded out the bottom five states. Maryland saw the biggest decline, dropping from second in 1997 to 41st in 2007.
"The report shows that the glass ceiling still exists for women in state government posts," said Judith Saidel, lead author and director of CWGCS. "It's encouraging that women are making inroads in most states, but the disparity still exists and by a large margin."
 Highlights of the report:
  • Between 1997 and 2007, governors appointed substantially more women as department heads (nine percentage points more), but women accounted for only 2.4 percentage points more senior staff advisors. Women remain underrepresented at the helm of executive agencies and in governors' executive offices.
  • Over the 11-year period from 1997-2007, the percentage of women top advisors increased by 2.4 percentage points. By 2007, the number of white women in governors' office in all 50 states increased by only 16. For African American, Latina, and American Indian women, the gain in numbers was low: 1, 3, and 3 respectively. Asian American women lost three positions.
  • On the other hand, there is some evidence of women's more significant progress: 36 of the 50 stats reached a higher level of gender representativeness in the executive branch of state government in 2007 than in 1997. Gender representativeness at the .75 level or higher (1.0 equals full representativeness) was reached in 15 states. Governors in six states - Alaska, Connecticut, Montana, Nevada, Vermont and Washington - have appointed women to top-ranking posts at the representativeness level of .90 or higher.

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