There are fewer women holding state Cabinet jobs, even though women comprise up to a third of the top appointees for new Republican governors, a survey shows.
The number of women heading key state agencies fell from 149 in 1989 to 113 this year, or fewer than one in five of the available jobs, the National Women's Political Caucus said. In 1990, women held 136 Cabinet jobs.Five of the seven governors with the best records for appointing women were Republicans, led by Arne Carlson of Minnesota. Three of those GOP governors, including Carlson, were elected last fall. A fourth, Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, recently switched parties.
"The good news is that appreciation of the abilities of women leaders has become truly multipartisan," said Sharon Rodine, president of the caucus, which has conducted the survey since 1981.
An independent, Lowell Weicker of Connecticut, ranks among the top 10.
The only female governor included in the survey, Joan Finney of Kansas, named women to 20 percent of her top jobs. The other two women who hold their state's top jobs are Ann Richards of Texas and Barbara Roberts of Oregon.
The best record belongs to Gov. William Donald Schaefer of Maryland, who named women to 41 percent of his top jobs. Booth Gardner of Washington ranked second at 33 percent. Both are Democrats.
Carlson appointed women to seven of 22 Cabinet positions, or 32 percent, according to the survey. A recent change in the state health commissioner boosted that to 36 percent, he said.
"In a sense, it's tragic that you have to give awards to people for doing something that's fundamentally right," Carlson said at a news conference.
The survey said the declining number of women Cabinet officers was due in part to the departure of several governors after the 1990 elections.