Women hold 34 percent of appointments up from 15 percent in 2010
Governor Lincoln D. Chafee joined the Women's Fund of Rhode Island and Vision 2020 today to release the third RIGAP report, which reveals that the Governor has stood by his commitment to grow the number of women represented in senior positions within state government and on boards and commissions.
"As Governor, I am thrilled that I have been able to keep my promise to tilt the scales of state government in favor of gender equality. Many talented and valuable members of my staff and cabinet are women, and I am grateful that a large number of Rhode Island women have agreed to serve on state boards and commissions," Governor Chafee said. "I recognize that women are still under-represented in Rhode Island government, and I will continue to work to toward equal representation."
The 2013 RIGAP report released today by the Women's Fund and Vision 2020 reveals that of the 166 commissions and boards closely monitored, women now hold 34 percent of the appointments. Since taking office, Governor Chafee has appointed 441 women to boards and commissions out of 1,071 appointments.
The 34 percent figure is a marked contrast to 15 percent representation in 2010 when Governor Chafee took office. Three of the Governor's eight senior staff members are female.
As stories continue to pour in, detailing the efforts of the "senate sisters" who successfully collaborated across party lines to reach a solution to the September-October federal crisis, the Women's Fund pointed out the timeliness of the RIGAP report, and the importance of meeting with Governor Chafee at the State House about continuing the momentum he has made ensuring women's voices are represented and included at all levels of government.
"I am pleased to announce that the Governor continues to have a strong record of appointing women to cabinet level positions, state boards, and commissions. More than 75 percent of the boards we monitor have women serving on them," Marcia Coné, CEO of the Women's Fund, said. "However, as we celebrate the improvements we have made, there are still some gaps. While our intention is to increase the number of women who serve, the overarching goal of RIGAP and the Women's Fund is to ensure there is diversity at the intersection of race, class, and gender on each and every board, commission, department, and within the administration senior staff. This will guarantee that our government remains inclusive and representative of the population."
Three years ago, Governor Chafee signed a pledge to increase the number of women serving in government, through a Women's Fund initiative called Rhode Island Government Appointments Project (RIGAP), which monitors the representation of women appointed to boards, commissions, and cabinet level positions. He said today that he will continue to honor his promise to achieve equal representation across all boards, commissions, and cabinet and senior staff positions.
Governor Chafee earlier this year signed an Executive Order specifically designed to ensure a more diverse workforce and grow the number of contracts awarded to minority-owned businesses.
RIGAP is an initiative aimed at ameliorating the gender inequity in Rhode Island government and was modeled after MassGAP, where many women who applied and gained positions there went on to run for state elected office. Among recommendations, the RIGAP report calls on the state to prioritize tracking data required by law on the diversity of appointments to boards and commissions and as required by the executive order on diversity, to specifically target boards without women for appointments and continue to appoint women to cabinet level positions.
Women's Fund of Rhode Island envisions a community, nation and world that are free of gender bias and where social justice exists for all. The social change will be evidenced by community engagement, the removal of barriers to resources, and the existence of equitable social and institutional systems.
Vision 2020 is a national coalition of organizations and individuals united in the commitment to achieve women's economic and social equality. It is funded and administered by the Institute for Women's Health and Leadership at Drexel University College of Medicine.