Opinions/Editorials (OpEd) by Claire Guthrie Gastañaga
Public Advocacy
 Presentations / OpEd / Articles
Kilgore Making a Place at the Table for Women
The Virginian Pilot, 12 December 2001: B11.

Virginia Attorney General-elect Jerry Kilgore's appointment of two women--one to serve as the chief deputy attorney general, the other as chief administrative officer--is a welcome and necessary change from the practices of his predecessor.

Under former Attorney General Mark Earley, most of the senior managers in this Attorney General's Office were white men.

When Earley created the solicitor general slot and a new deputy attorney general position, he hired white men to fill them.

Earley hired three counsels during his administration; all were white males. When one of his white male deputies left, he replaced him with another white male.

These choices were part of a larger pattern. As of June 30, women and minorities in the Virginia Attorney General's Office were concentrated in entry level positions and lower paying para-professionals and administrative support jobs, according to the office's 2001 EEO-4 report filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

According to that report:

Women made up almost 61 percent of the full-time employees of the Attorney General's Office, but only about 23 percent of the employees making $70,000 or more.
African Americans made up 17 percent of the full-time employees, but only 3.5 percent of the employees making $70,000 or more.
There was one Hispanic employee, a woman, in a para-professional job, making between $33,000 and $42,900.
Of three Asian/Pacific Islanders, two were men making over $70,000 in administrative or professional positions and one was a woman making between $33,000 and $42,900 as a technician.

An examination of publicly available salary data for employees of the Attorney General's Office shows an even starker picture of disparity for people who held positions paying more than $90,000 a year.

As of May 1, 29 employees earned more than $90,000. Of these, 22 were white men, two were African-American men, and five were white women.

One of the two black men and two of the five women earning more than $90,000 were initially appointed to their positions by former Attorney General Mary Sue Terry.

Why should we care about the employment of women and minorities in the Virginia Attorney General's Office?

This is not about the ideologies or personalities of the people involved.

A 1991 study by the Center for the American Woman and Politics at Rutger University found that the increased presence of women in state legislatures has an impact that is evident regardless of the party, ideology, feminist identification, constituency, seniority, age, or political insider status of the women who are elected. Women legislatures are more likely than their male colleagues to give top priority to public policies to their traditional roles as caregivers, issues dealing with children, education, environment, aging, families, and health care.

Earley's failure to lead with inclusion meant that, when important legal and policy questions were being debated in and advocated by his office, women and minorities had no more than token representation in the discussions and, in most cases, no representation at all.

The increased presence of women and minorities could affect decisions made and priorities set at all levels of government. Among the issues dealt with by the Attorney General's Office during the Earley administration were domestic violence, elder abuse, consumer protection, utility deregulation, computer crime and pornography, death penalty laws and procedures, publication of disciplinary records of lawyers, judges, and doctors, defense of the state's partial birth abortion law, the
omnibus tobacco settlement and distribution of monies from consumer and anti-trust settlements.

Women and minorities deserved to have more than token representation in deliberations on these important topics.

Attorney General-elect Kilgore deserves credit for making a good start toward ensuring that the team that will run his office will reflect the full diversity of Virginia at all levels.

The future will show whether he is truly committed to inclusive leadership that brings everyone to this table at the highest levels of state government in more than token numbers.

Public Advocacy
 Presentations / OpEd / Articles

Home  l  Services  l  Resources  AboutContact  l
©2000-2004 by Claire Guthrie Gastañaga | copyright policy | legal disclaimer | privacy statement