On her Facebook page, Mayor Mike McGinn's chief of staff Julie McCoy is accusing me of being "sexist" and "anti-woman" by not including her and public affairs director Beth Hester, a political appointee, among the female city department heads I wrote about in a recent post pointing out that McGinn has fewer female department heads, seven, compared to his predecessor Greg Nickels, who had 13 female department heads at the same point in his administration (the end of his first term).
By parroting the Murray campaign attack, Erica sends the message to future politicians that it really doesn't matter how many women they hire or whether those woman have positions of power. In Erica's world, she can diminish the roles of hard working women – even unilaterally demoting cabinet members with her reporting in order to make a political attack on behalf of the Murray campaign.
Erica chooses to denigrate the work that I, and the many other senior women in the McGinn administration do every day. That is, to put it bluntly, sexist and anti-woman.
OK, leaving aside the weird ad hominem attack (for what it's worth, though, I never "denigrated" McCoy; I didn't even mention her in my original post): As I reported (and re-documented, position by position, in a followup post), of McGinn's 23-member cabinet, seven members are women. Of Nickels' cabinet at the same point in his administration, at the end of 2005, 13 members were women. (In 2003, the same list of positions shows 11 women. In 2007, 12. Still more than McGinn's seven.)As the mayor himself has pointed out, women dominate in the lower-paying rungs of city government. Which is why looking at gender equity among the very highest-ranking positions at the city, the department heads, isn't mere "bean-counting."
To be clear: As I noted in the comments to my most recent post, I'm counting on that list individuals who are heads of departments and don't report to heads of other departments. I also didn't include on that list political appointees (mayoral staffers) whose job is to report directly to the mayor and promote his agenda, like McCoy and his public affairs director, Beth Hester.
Nor did I include Office for Education director Holly Miller (who answers to Department of Neighborhoods director Bernie Matsuno, a woman), or Office of Emergency Management director Barb Graff (who answers to police chief Jim Pugel, a man.)
I say that by including political appointees who work on the mayor's staff and whose job it is to promote his political agenda among "cabinet members" such as department heads, McCoy is revealing something about his priorities. It would be like Obama arguing that Rahm Emanual represented the people of the United States when he spoke to reporters about the president's agenda, or Bush arguing that Ari Fleischer served the public, not the president.
McCoy further argues that McGinn personally considers some of his personal staffers and some lower-level office heads to be members of his "cabinet." But again, I'm making an apples-to-apples comparison between Nickels, 2005, and McGinn, 2013. In that comparison, I'm including department heads and directors who don't report to other department heads, and I'm excluding political appointees on the mayor's staff. Directors are top-level positions at the city—the positions that pay the most money and have the most power.
As the mayor himself has pointed out (he even commissioned a study, showing he acknowledges the problem and takes it seriously), women dominate in the lower-paying rungs of city government. Which is why looking at gender equity among the very highest-ranking positions at the city, the department heads, isn't mere "bean-counting." Nor is it a personal "denigration" of McCoy or Hester. Unlike bean-counting and personal quibbles, gender equity at the highest levels of city government matters.
For what it's worth, as I also noted, Nickels didn't have a chief of staff. And Nickels' communications director at the end of 2005 was a woman, like McGinn's.
I'm not sure how noting, accurately, that there are fewer female department heads under McGinn (none of whom head up one of the city's seven largest departments—Police, Fire, Parks, Transportation, City Light, Utilities, Health, and Seattle Center; three were headed by women under Nickels) is sexist.