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Under Chafee, women secure more state government roles

In the last three years, the amount of state government positions held by women has more than doubled

The number of Rhode Island women in state government positions has more than doubled since the beginning of Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s ’75 P’14 P’17 tenure, he announced Monday at a press conference.

The Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, which put the Rhode Island Government Appointments Project in motion, released its annual report at the press conference, showing a continuing trend of increasing female appointments to public committees and boards.

“Considering when we started three years ago we were at 15 percent, and now we’re up to 34 percent, that’s pretty good results,” said Marcia Cone, CEO of the Women’s Fund.

But Cone said there was still “room for improvement.”

The group collaborated with the Chafee administration in 2010 and set a goal to double female appointments by the end of the governor’s first term.

Chafee has appointed 441 women to boards and commissions out of 1,071 overall appointments since he took office in 2011, according to a press release from Chafee’s office.

The 2012 report revealed that 42 state boards and commissions lacked female representation, while only one committee lacked male representation. The number of all-male boards and comissions has since dropped to 37, accounting for a recent female appointment to the Board of Atomic Energy, Cone said.

In the future, Cone said, the Women’s Fund and the Government Appointments Project will work toward ensuring diversity in government positions for all minorities, in addition to advocating on behalf of women.

“We’re interested in diversity in government that reflects the diversity of Rhode Island,” Cone said.

Because the Women’s Fund is a nonprofit organization, Cone said, the group will not endorse a candidate for the 2014 gubernatorial election, but it will advocate for all candidates to pursue further work on the appointments project.


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