Making a Place at the Table for Women
Virginian Pilot, 12 December 2001: B11.
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
||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.
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.
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
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.
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.