Utah Gov. Norm Bangerter has one of the worst records of any governor for appointing women to head top state agencies, the National Women's Political Caucus said Friday.
In fact, it said Bangerter ranks 35th out of the 40 governors who may directly appoint such directors.However, Bangerter's press secretary, Francine Giani, said that rating doesn't take into account the many mid-level division directors who are women that the governor has appointed, and she said the governor has a good record despite the caucus's rating.
The caucus announced its ratings Friday as governors are planning to gather this weekend in Washington for the National Governors' Association winter meeting.
The caucus said only two of 18 top Utah state agency directors appointed by Bangerter are women: Health Department Director Suzanne Dandoy and Administrative Services Director Carolyn Lloyd.
The caucus said that means only 11.1 percent of Bangerter's "cabinet" is female. Only five states had lower percentages: Kansas, 10 percent; Alabama, 9.5 percent; North Dakota, 6.3 percent; Montana, 6.3 percent; and Missouri, 0 percent.
The governors with the highest percentage of women department chiefs include Virginia, 42.8 percent; Maryland, 38.9 percent; Arkansas, 35.7 percent; and Wisconsin, 33.3 percent.
Of Bangerter, women's caucus National Chairwoman Irene Natividad said, "I think he could definitely do better."
She said governors such as Bangerter with low rankings do not "recognize the ability and political savvy of women," and run the risk of alienating women voters - who she said account for the majority of registered voters.
In response, Giani told the Deseret News, "I'm not very impressed with that ranking. We have excellent women in high-level positions in the Bangerter administration. . . . I think he has a good record. He consistently looks for the best people in positions."
She added, "He has more (cabinet-level) woman appointees than the previous administration. In addition to that, we have a number of division level people who are women. Also, most members of the governor's staff are women.
"The deputy director of community and economic development is a woman. The (director of the) division of fine arts is a woman. The director of the film office is a woman. I can go on and on with a list."
While the women's caucus was critical of Bangerter, it praised the performance of governors in general because the number of women appointed to state-level cabinet positions nationally increased by more than 15 percent during the past two years.