By Danlette Grace Washington
On Sunday, June 4, 2023, women in the public and private sectors advanced the importance of inclusivity and participation of women in leadership at the 91st Annual United States Mayors Conference.
The focus of the panel was the challenges women face in leadership in their respective jobs and the way, they overcome adversities, and to find ways that both men and women can bridge the gaps that prevent advancement for women in society.
Some of the issues discussed were the disparity in men’s and women’s wages, equal opportunity for women in leadership, representation for women in male-dominated spaces, and women supporting women, among others.
The panelists highlighted some of their experiences, both the high and low they continue to experience throughout their careers.
Speaking at this year’s conference, Chairperson for the Women’s Mayor’s Leadership Alliance of the US Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Tacoma, Washington State, Victoria Woodards, expressed her excitement for the increased number of women mayors over the years.
Kathy Sheehan, Mayor of Albany, New York, led the panelists consisting of five women. She acknowledged the challenges in resolving women’s issues and expressed that gender diversity is a priority.
Also, Mayor Sheehan shared that women remain underpaid and urged fellow mayors to do a pay study to help women get the wages they deserve.
Meanwhile, Madam Angela F. Williams, President and CEO of United Way Worldwide explained to the audience what it means to be a minority.
She spoke about her family being a part of the Freedom Fighters Movement. For this reason, it is vital to create a space what would be inclusive to everyone and the next generation of women leaders. Madam Williams furthered by saying she uses her position as a voice to help society, to connect with other people, and help discover other leaders.
She specifically encouraged women to help create space for other women and embrace the younger generation.
“As women in this day and age, to be braved and courageous, about taking stands, about being the first, but making sure that we are not the only one.”
For her part, Elizabeth Z. Bartz, President and CEO of State and Federal Communications Inc., encouraged women to be proactive and not to be afraid to take seats at the table.
“I think it is important that women expand their visions. Participate positively in the business and community network and your family networks,” Elizabeth Bartz stated.
Continuing the discussion, Shelley Zalis, Founder/CEO of the Female Quotient, asserted that respect and kindness in the workplace create the pathway to success.
Jane Castor, Mayor of Tampa, Florida, and former Chief of Police for the Tampa Police Department lamented her more than 30 years of experience at the Police Department.
She explained what it means to be in a male-dominated field.
“I was the first female Police Chief at the Department for six years. I worked harder than my male counterparts.”
She stated clearly that she wanted to break the stereotypes that society thought women are not qualified for such jobs.
In addition, the former Police Chief and current Mayor of Tampa, Florida, urged other Mayors to be aware of the positions they are in and the power they possess to lift up other people.
She also emphasized the importance of diversity and connecting with people from different backgrounds, especially with younger people who are making an impact.
At the close of the discussion, the Chairperson for the Women’s Mayor’s Leadership Alliance of the US Conference of Mayors and Mayor of Tacoma, Washington State, Victoria Woodards, expressed gratitude to fellow colleagues and the panelists for their support and looked forward to working with more Mayor women and women in other leadership portfolios.
According to Mayor Woodards, the target of the Mission Women’s Mayor’s Leadership Alliance is to advance and increase the number of women in the Mayor Leadership Alliance and the active participation of women.
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