Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales Pushes (Again) for Gender Diversity on Boards

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Shirley Gonzales has made her second request that council mandate gender equity on city boards and commissions.
  • Shirley Gonzales has made her second request that council mandate gender equity on city boards and commissions.
After a showdown last week over whether to approve the newest trustee on CPS Energy's all-male board, Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales has requested that council vote to require gender parity on city boards and commissions.

Gonzales was one of three members who voted against approving former Judson ISD superintendent Willis Mackey for the open slot on the board. She was joined by Rebecca Viagran and Greg Brockhouse.

“Unfortunately, the only way to make progress, in this case, is to mandate,” Gonzales said. “This issue of gender parity isn't a new one, yet we haven't seemed to have moved the needle at all. If anything, it seems we're going backward.”

Women represent 51 percent of the city’s population, but hold only 38 percent of its board and commission seats, according to Gonzales' stats. What's more, she added, the city's Old Boys' Club frequently fails to recruit in ways that draw more female applicants.

If Gonzales' request sounds familiar, it's because she filed to a create a similar mandate two years ago. Mayor Ron Nirenberg, then a councilman, was one of the four who signed off in support. Ultimately, though, the measure failed to get traction with what was then a far more conservative council.

This time around, Gonzales benefits from a more progressive council makeup. Plus, the new request is signed by Viagran, Manny Pelaez, Roberto Treviño and Rey Saldaña — three of whom sit on the Governance Committee, whose support is needed before the item can receive a full vote.

"We expect to go further this time," Gonzales said. "You need six votes [on council] to make a change, and I think we've got that."

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