County Honors Women Leaders
May 18, 2011
An historic, though little remembered figure in Monterey County was its first Chinese voter, a resident of the Chinese fishing village that once stood where the Hopkins Marine Lab is now located. What was remarkable about this voter, says Pacific Grove Mayor Carmelita Garcia, is that she was a woman, cracking the glass ceiling quietly.
Garcia presented recognition to six Monterey County women for extraordinary achievements in their work and community service on Saturday, reflecting on a history of accomplishments for local women. And Garcia is taking her own steps to shatter PG's gender imbalance: Of nearly 70 appointments to city committees this year, she has selected more than 90 percent women, bringing the gender ratio to about 50-50 across city advisory bodies.
Supervisor Jane Parker, the sole woman on the County Board of Supervisors, said the gender balance is a deeply entrenched problem. "Our county is really behind in terms of welcoming and celebrating diversity. It can create a hostile environment for women and people of color," Parker says. "It’s just institutionally set up to favor white men.”
She notes a fair gender balance at entry level government staff positions, but says women are far behind in leadership positions. And only 17 percent of Monterey County elected officials are women. Parker says though 50 would be best for effectively representing the population, legislative bodies with at least a 30 percent female presence have tended to make more progress than those with fewer women. The only state not to cut funding for education in recent years is New Hampshire, where more than half of legislators are women, a correlation that Parker says is telling.
Honorees were selected by the Commission on the Status of Women (disclosure: the author of this post is a District 5 commissioner) for significantly improving the quality of life for others. They are Eva Rasul, a police officer in Pacific Grove; Michelle Slade, vice president of impact advancement with the Boys & Girls Club; Juanita Sanchez, a hair dresser in King City; Renee Bailey, a bank manager and Marina Kiwanis Club president; Kim Stemler, an organizational management consultant in Marina who has worked on several county projects; and Becky Botello, recognized posthumously for her work and service for those recovering from addiction at Sun Street Center in King City.