Dear Mayor McGinn: Hire more women

May 12, 2010, 3:00 AM | Updated: Mar 28, 2011, 3:46 pm

Women hold about one quarter of the leadership positions in the City of Seattle, and that’s not enough according to one of the mayor’s advisory groups.

Mayor Mike McGinnA “Dear Mayor McGinn” letter from the Seattle Women’s Commission urges him to put more women in charge as he finds replacements for two department openings – the police chief, and the head of the parks department.

We know the next police chief will be a man. Although two women were among the candidates, the three finalists announced last night are John Diaz, Seattle’s interim police chief, and two police chiefs from California – Ron Davis from East Palo Alto; and Rick Braziel from Sacramento.

Right now, only four out of 17 department heads are women. A fact the Commission calls “surprising and disappointing.”

“Since there are so many amazing women in Seattle in business, non-profits, government, and because it’s 50 percent of the constituency, we think that there should be more of an equal balance of women leading those departments,” says Sonya Zilka, co-chair of the Seattle Women’s Commission.

The volunteer, 20 person board advises the mayor, city council and city departments on issues that effect women. The Seattle Women’s Commission’s top concerns are: domestic violence; human trafficking; youth prostitution; a lack of emergency shelter for women with families; a lack of sick leave benefits.

Zilka, whose day job is with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, says the letter was just meant as a gentle nudge for the Mayor to think about hiring more women as he replaces department heads.

“We want to make sure the issue is top of mind as they go into the searches (for replacements),” she says.

While they want female candidates to be considered for city leadership jobs, Zilka says they don’t think the mayor should hire women simply for the sake of putting women in charge.

“Women bring another perspective, but we do think he should obviously pick the most qualified candidate,” says Zilka.

Mayor Mike McGinn’s office has not responded to the Seattle Women’s Commission, yet. He tells us he’d “love to hire more women.”

“We’d love to hire and have a diverse pool of department heads and in the mayor’s office as well, and we’ve already done that,” Mayor McGinn says.

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Dear Mayor McGinn: Hire more women