The future of women in public administration

The first symposium on women in public administration was published in 1976 and focused on three central topics: discrimination against, underrepresentation of, and underutilization of women in public service. Analyses of why conditions of discrimination and underutilization existed, as well as remedies to these challenges, were the crux of the 1976 symposium. Over four decades later, these issues are still pressing and continue to dominate the conversation surrounding women in public administration in the United States. The renewed and continued focus on equal pay, paid family leave, the absence of women in key leadership positions, women’s health care options, and reproductive rights remain center stage in the national policy arena, including the presidential debates. Internationally, gender parity was a priority agenda item during the 2016 Economic Forum, where only 18% of the participants present for a discussion about the “state of the world” were women. As a discipline, public administration continues to explore the ongoing challenges and progress of women with a degree of consensus on the common obstacles and work to be done for continued progress. However, what the key challenges and opportunities are for women in the 21st century, and how we can rethink long-standing issues from diverse perspectives are now pressing questions demanding scholarly attention. This symposium highlights what is missing from the conversation and how, in the field of public administration, we can be leaders on these topics.

The first symposium on women in public administration was published in 1976 and focused on three central topics: discrimination against, underrepresentation of, and underutilization of women in public service. Analyses of why conditions of discrimination and underutilization existed, as well as remedies to these challenges, were the crux of the 1976 symposium. Over four decades later, these issues are still pressing and continue to dominate the conversation surrounding women in public administration in the United States. The renewed and continued focus on equal pay, paid family leave, the absence of women in key leadership positions, women’s health care options, and reproductive rights remain center stage in the national policy arena, including the presidential debates. Internationally, gender parity was a priority agenda item during the 2016 Economic Forum, where only 18% of the participants present for a discussion about the “state of the world” were women. As a discipline, public administration continues to explore the ongoing challenges and progress of women with a degree of consensus on the common obstacles and work to be done for continued progress. However, what the key challenges and opportunities are for women in the 21st century, and how we can rethink long-standing issues from diverse perspectives are now pressing questions demanding scholarly attention. This symposium highlights what is missing from the conversation and how, in the field of public administration, we can be leaders on these topics.

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