University at Albany, State University of New York
Contact UAlbany Directories Calendars & Schedules Visitors Site Index Search
Admissions Academics Research IT Services Libraries Athletics


News Release

Women’s Share of Top Executive Appointments in State Governments Drops in the Last Two Years
Massachusetts and Oregon Rank Highest for Percentage of Women in Government, New Hampshire Ranks Lowest

Contact: Lisa James Goldsberry (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (February 19, 2004) -- Women’s progress as holders of top-ranking appointee positions in state governments dropped almost three percentage points over the last two years, but remained above the 1999 level, according to Appointed Policy Makers in State Government, Five-Year Trend Analysis, a report released Thursday by the University at Albany’s Center for Women in Government & Civil Society. Women held 35 percent of policy leader posts in 2001, 32 percent in 2003.

The report indicates that, even as the 2000 census recorded substantial changes in the race and ethnicity composition of the U.S. population, the demographics of executive branch policy leaders changed very little between 1999 and 2003. The exception was African American women, who advanced substantially in the number of policy leadership position to which they were appointed by U.S. governors.

African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and American Indians continue to hold few top advisor staff positions in governors’ offices. For African American staff appointees, the percentage is 6.9; for Latino/a appointees, 2.6; for Asian Americans, 1.5; and for American Indians, 0.4. On the other hand, the percentage of department head posts held by white women, African American women, and Asian American women rose slightly.

In nine states (Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, South Dakota), women hold less than half the top policy posts to which they would be appointed, if the proportion of women appointees were equal to the proportion of women in the population of those states.

“A net gain for women of 2.2 percentage points over a five-year period is certainly a very slow rate of advancement,” said Judith Saidel, executive director of the Center and the study’s project director. “Furthermore, the fact that only five of the 50 states are even close to parity in terms of women’s appointment to leadership positions is a less than commendable record established by the nation’s governors.”

Original data on policy leaders appointed by current governors were collected from the states via a mailed survey and follow-up phone calls as needed between June and November 2003. For the purpose of the study, “policy leaders” include department heads (heads of departments, agencies, offices, boards, commissions, and authorities) and top advisors in governors’ offices (titles such as chief of staff, government liaison, legal advisor, press secretary).

For copies of this report as of Thursday, Feb. 19, and for more information about the Center for Women in Government & Civil Society, visit the Center’s web site at

Judith Saidel, the report's author, will be available for interviews Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2004; call (518) 442-3896.

The University at Albany's broad mission of excellence in undergraduate and graduate education, research and public service engages 17,000 diverse students in nine degree-granting schools and colleges. The University has launched a $500 million fundraising campaign, the most ambitious in its history, with the goal of placing it among the nation's top 30 public research universities by the end of the decade. For more information about this internationally ranked institution, visit For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit