Across the United States, the percentage of women in the top Executive role in cities and towns is about 13%. In 1981 when the data was first collected… it was 13%.

Let that sink in for a bit.

In 1981 the average single family home in Tacoma, WA (my hometown) was worth about $80,000.  Today, the average home sells for nearly $300,000. I could launch into a rant about how much has changed since 1981 as a juxtaposition to the relatively unmoved ratio of female City leadership, but that's not the point of this article. The point is that there are encouraging changes afoot and I am excited to celebrate a huge win in Tacoma.

Photo: Peter Haley

Photo: Peter Haley

Tacoma just hired Elizabeth Pauli to the City Manager position.  The first female to hold this office in history.

Many folks don't know how the local government organization works, so let me lay down a foundation. The City Manager is the Chief Executive Officer of the organization known as "the City."  The City of Tacoma has over 2,000 employees and an biennial budget of nearly $2 Billion.  Like many large organizations, the City Manager is appointed by the City Council, which is like a Board of Directors, save for one major difference, they are elected officials. This is a really big and important job!

So why hasn’t the ratio of women in local government changed in over 35 years?

There are too many reasons to address right now, I’ll give my opinion on those in a later article.  Today, is about celebration.  I want to celebrate Tacoma, which has taken a bold step forward. I want to celebrate the Mayor Marylin Strickland and the Tacoma City Council, which voted unanimously to select Pauli as the next City Manager.  I want to celebrate Elizabeth Pauli, because according to one City Council member, she was the person who “set the bar” that none of the other candidates could equal.

Let’s all take a minute to applaud Elizabeth Pauli by learning about her hard work and dedication to her city.

Congratulations Ms. Pauli. #TacomaPride

Important Post Script

If the 13% number bothers you, like it does me, then, let’s figure out what we can do to balance it out.  Because when this balance is struck, we will have more diverse and representative governments.  This is the job of both women and men.

For my part, I will be attending the 2nd annual Arizona Women Leading Government event as a keynote speaker. I am honored to be sharing the stage with Nicole Lance, a Rockstar in Local Government who is currently the Assistant City Manager for the City of Surprise, AZ.  I encourage you all to attend and see how much of a difference we can make. Click here to register or get more information.