At the height of the gubernatorial campaign, then-candidate Dan Malloy signed a pledge to do his best to put more women in top-level positions in government. Now that he’s won, one group intends to make sure he sees that promise through.
“In Connecticut, women are 51 percent of the population and 37 percent of paid executive level positions,” said Teresa Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women. “To her credit, Gov. [M. Jodi] Rell brought that number up to its current level and we look forward to working in partnership with the governor-elect to keep that momentum going.”
“I think that Malloy understands the importance of having women’s voices at the table,” Younger said.
The commission, a non-partisan agency of the Connecticut General Assembly and its Connecticut Government Appointments Project (ConnGAP) did more than get pledges from the candidates: It also is providing Malloy’s transition team with the resumes of women applicants–61 in the first batch.
“We heard from governors all around the country,” said Younger. “And even if they wanted to, they were just unable to find women who were qualified.”
“So ConnGAP wasn’t just telling the candidates, ‘We want you to approach parity,'” she said. “It was also saying ‘We want to supply you with the resources.'”
The commission and ConnGAP put out a statewide call for applicants this year. With help from more than 80 partnering organizations, the committee collected 100 resumes. Looking for professional experience, communication and technical skills among others, they pared that list down to 61 resumes.
“We had never done this before,” said Younger. “We were gearing for 50. So the fact that we got 100 top caliber resumes, the search committee was just thrilled.”
Now that the election is over, Malloy’s budding administration still seems to be on board with the parity pledge.
“Dan and I were happy to sign this thing,” said Lieutenant Governor-elect Nancy Wyman, who heads up Malloy’s transition team with chief of staff-designee Timothy F. Bannon. “Our goal is to hit that 50 percent number.”
“We’re waiting for the list,” she said, referring to the binder full of resumes. “We’re going to go through it and find the best and the brightest.”
“I’m so glad that Teresa and PCSW did get this list together,” said Wyman. “It makes things a lot easier for us.”
The commission plans to track the gender composition of the Malloy administration’s appointees and issue a report card next March. It also plans to maintain a list of open administration positions on its website.
State Sen. Edith Prague, who’s been involved in Connecticut politics since 1982, is fully supportive.
“I think Teresa is doing this at the right time,” said Prague. “Her attention and her push will certainly be an influence in the governor’s thinking.”
Under Rell, women held 37 percent of high-level positions.
“As governor, I have made it a top priority to diversify state government,” Rell said in an emailed statement. “Take a look around our state agencies today – you will find women who are accomplished in their fields of expertise at the very top levels.”
“I know the incoming administration shares this commitment and will continue the progress that we have made,” she said.
According to Younger, Rell’s office never worked with the commission on hiring. “But she has done an amazing job of seeking out women and recruiting them for high levels and often in non-traditional positions,” said Younger.
Sprague is not so sure. “I can’t criticize Gov. Rell,” she said. “But I don’t believe she was as strong in this area as she could have been.”
“The governor tried her hardest to do what she could,” said Wyman. “And I think we should be looking forward now, not back.”
Wyman, Younger and Sprague all agree that it’s not simply about parity, which is why ConnGAP program is crucial. “There’s got to be enough qualified women, I put a caveat on that,” said Sprague. “They’re not just going to pick women because they promised.”