Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

Gender Politics

Posted by bsflag2007 on Tuesday, February 20, 2007

HoCoMD readers who have been monitoring the appointments and replacements made by Mr. Ulman commented on a couple of observed trends weeks ago. “Where are the grey hairs?” “Where are the ladies?”

Now the Baltimore Sun has reported on the possible disparity between men and women in the new administration.

A gender shift in filling jobs raises eyebrows; county executive defends his appointments


Originally published February 18, 2007,0,2302112.story?coll=bal-local-howard

As a woman, I make every effort to “support the team”.   We have a female pediatrician.  She has a male nurse.  I like the idea of both my children (boy and girl) seeing men and women in “non-traditional” roles.  Sometimes that does not coincide with the more dogmatic agenda of some feminists.   I also have male doctors,  and have supported male political candidates.  I have been chastised for that by folks who thought I should be supporting female candidates.

I do not exclude based on sex, race or creed.  Given equal choices, I also have a soft spot for the underdog. Again, that does not always mean a woman.  Sometimes the chosen one is a middle aged white male.   I actually consider the options, the requirements, and the position – and weigh the relative pros and cons – and strive for a degree of diversity because I think it enriches our lives.

Ken Ulman says that is what he is doing.  I am inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt.

While it is true that some positions which were formerly held by women are now going to be held by men – I cannot jump on the “that’s a bad thing” bandwagon. There are many women in decision making positions —  let’s not forget the three on the county council.

I like the approach being taken by Wendy Royalty of Ellicott City,  co-chair of the Women’s Leadership Network of the Maryland Democratic Party . “We need to keep an eye on him. I’m just not happy about what I’m seeing.”

We should all “keep an eye on” our elected officials, and let them know when we don’t like what we are seeing. In this case, it means reminding Ulman that folks are watching the gender as well as the ethnic diversity of those appointed to positions of power and decision.

But I would caution folks who are eager to keep score with the numbers and particular positions.  Once we start keeping score the next step is to establish a certain ratio then  designated gender roles for particular offices.

Then, if there really were a plan to diminish the relative power or representation of a particular sex or group – it would be as easy as whittling away at the scope of the designated office.  For example – if  Health “becomes” the designated “woman’s” position … and we really do want to limit the authority and power of women — we systematically reduce the scope and power of the office of Health.  Now we can claim to have the “correct” number of women appointed …. but what do we really have?

What we really need is the best people in the right offices  – and given a choice among qualified candidates making every effort to make sure as many views and perspectives as possible are given adequate representation.

Frankly – I’d rather see political appointments reach across party lines than gender lines on occasion.   Everyone in the community ought to feel represented.  We should all keep an eye out for that.

Cindy Vaillancourt


2 Responses to “Gender Politics”

  1. Serena Joy said

    Department of Citizen Services – Susan Rosenbaum
    Department of Corrections – Melanie Pereira
    Department of Finance – Sharon Greisz
    Department of Planning and Zoning – Marsha McLaughlin

  2. jim adams said

    Refreshing view point. Thanks Cindy

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