Women Entering the Professional Pipeline

Participation in ICMA’s Local Government Management Fellowship program signals a growing cadre of women in the pipeline for tomorrow’s leadership positions.

ARTICLE | Feb 11, 2015

More than half of the young professionals selected for ICMA’s competitive Local Government Management Fellowship (LGMF) program are women. And of the eleven LGMF alumni who are in CAO positions, five are women. This is good news for the future of the profession at a time when the percentage of local government CAO positions held by women remains flat at 13 percent.

Since its start in 2004, LGMF has attracted 880 applicants, of which 169 have been selected for full-time, one- or two-year management-track fellowships in local governments. The proportion of female to male applicants has varied from year to year, but the number of males and females in the applicant pool—and among those selected for fellowships—has been relatively balanced over time.

This graph shows the gender makeup of successful applicants:

LGMF-fellows by gender

Fellowships are awarded to recent master’s program graduates, based on academic performance, commitment to public service, leadership qualities, and successful interviews with local governments offering fellowship opportunities. Once selected, Fellows hone their skills working on real-world local government assignments under the guidance of senior managers.

The LGMF experience has paid dividends in career success. In addition to the eleven alumni who have become city, town, or village managers, many others are in deputy manager or other senior local government positions.

While the data suggest a positive trend for the future of women in the profession, it does not appear quite as bright for ethnic and racial minorities. Since 2004, African-Americans, Hispanics, and other minorities have accounted for 39 percent of applicants; 31 percent of finalists, and 30 percent of Fellows. The percentage has increased since 2011--to 40% in 2014.

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