Who are the 23%?
Women play a vital role in the workplace. But did you know that “Women only make up 23 percent of government roles at the state and local level“? Through an ongoing series of podcasts, Governing reporter Mattie Quinn takes on this important task of finding out who these women are, what leadership means to them, and the difference they are making in their communities.
In 1887, Susanna Medora Salter becomes the first woman elected mayor of an American town, in Argonia, Kansas. This “Famous First” was a major milestone for women in government and paved the way for many women thereafter. In Quinn’s first podcast, she interviews Mayor Freeman-Wilson of Gary, IN who actually prefers to go by the name “Mayor Karen”.
Just by listening to the podcast, I had the sense this Mayor is the kind of woman that people really admire. What drives her is the desire to bring in support and funding to build programs that help all citizens of Gary. She goes on to talk about an initiative to tie public safety and light illumination efforts together for community restoration. “When we pay particular attention to the environment then it changes the incidents of crime because people feel better about where they live.”
As the interview wraps up, the topic turns towards why the need for more women in government. Freeman-Wilson talks candidly about the natural skills and strengths women possess like being problem solvers, ability to multi-task, and always looking for the “win-win”. “It’s not about who I am, but it’s really about how do I contribute… how do I help… how can I improve my community.”
As young women begin thinking about their careers, it’s important to know that a role in government, regardless of the level, is a viable option. Making a difference in your community is one of them most rewarding jobs you can do.