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Gender Diversity on Public Boards in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. A Ten-Year Retrospective

Studienarbeit 2015 42 Seiten

Geschlechterstudien / Gender Studies



The YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh Mission

Gender and Racial Diversity on City and County Boards: A Ten-Year Retrospective


The Carnegie Mellon Study

Ordinance 351

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Demographics and BAC Membership, 2006-2014
BAC Membership in Pittsburgh under Ravenstahl.
BAC Membership in Allegheny County under Onorato.
BAC Membership in Pittsburgh under Peduto.
BAC Membership in Allegheny County under Fitzgerald.
BAC Membership in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Today



Demographic Analysis
Descriptive Analysis
Bivariate Analysis

Advocacy Project
Board Training Program
Distribution of Literature
Carlow’s Contribution
Distribution of Literature
Informative Presentation (Scholarship Day 2016)

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E

Appendix F

The YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh Mission

The YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all. We strengthen our community by creating and advancing opportunities for all women to seek equality and self-sufficiency.

The YWCA today is a source of support and education for women and girls throughout greater Pittsburgh. We focus on programs that generate institutional change and better the lives of women and girls – programs like subsidized child care for women who are the sole financial supporters of their families; housing for women in transition; breast and cervical health education for marginalized women; and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) education for teen-aged girls from socio-economically challenged homes. In 2014, the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh provided services to 54,065 women, children, and families.

Gender and Racial Diversity on City and County Boards: A Ten-Year Retrospective

In 2005, the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) Heinz College of Public Policy published a study entitled “Recommendations for Implementing an Inclusive City and County Board Appointment Policy.” That study, based on previous research by the Pittsburgh Coro Center for Civic Leadership, had two objectives: to determine the demographics of boards, authorities, and commissions (BACs) in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and to issue recommendations on how to make appointments to BACs in the area more transparent and inclusive. As a result of the CMU study, the City of Pittsburgh passed Ordinance 35, a fair representation law that followed the study’s recommendations. Allegheny County operates under a similar law.

It has been ten years since the study and subsequent passage of Ordinance 35. It is the intention of the current research to examine the results of the CMU study, to determine the current demographics of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County BACs, to discover if the passage of Ordinance 35 has indeed improved the representation of women and minorities on BACs, and if not, to provide new recommendations for the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County to achieve representation in BACs that adequately represents the population of the region.

Carlow University has partnered with the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh to examine the barriers that women and minorities face in being appointed as members of city and county boards in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, and to make recommendations for the future in order to achieve representation of women and minorities on boards. Through an analysis of relevant literature and board member lists, as well as a survey distributed through the YWCA, the current research intends to provide a follow-up to the CMU study, examining ten years of progress, or lack thereof, and the future of representation of women and minorities on city and county boards.


Diversity is very important in all aspects of government. Having an administration representative of the entire population is a safeguard to make sure the voices and concerns of all citizens are heard. In Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, diversity has not been very prevalent within the government. One area that has severely lacked diversity is on boards, authorities, and commissions. This diversity is very important because it ensures these boards take into account issues that affect a certain gender or race. These BACs make decisions that affect the population as a whole, and having a board that reflects the diversity of Pittsburgh critical. To see the level of diversity on these BACs, the websites for the county and city provided current members lists. These list were analyzed to see the level of diversity based on gender. The lack of diversity was seen through a higher level of male presences on these BACs. The Carnegie Mellon University Study was the main comparison study in this research. The CMU studied provided a basis for comparison in how things have, or have not changed in 10 years. Local newspaper articles and research were analyzed to see what types of policies are being enacted to fix the problem of lack of diversity. The administrations over 10 years have made an attempt to fix this problem, and the research is meant to see if these policies have been successful.

Keywords: Allegheny County, authorities, boards, city government, county government, commissions, diversity, gender diversity, Pittsburgh

The Carnegie Mellon Study

In their study, “Recommendations for Implementing an Inclusive City and County Board Appointment Policy,” Webb, Hartough, and Reynolds et al (2005) set out to determine the demographics of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County, the demographics of boards, authorities, and commissions (BACs) in those areas, and to develop recommendations that the city and county could implement in order to make the membership of BACs represent their populations. The research team surveyed members of city and county BACs in order to determine the demographics of each, and then compared the numbers with population demographics for the city and county.

The study found that, although women constituted 51% of the working age population of the City of Pittsburgh, they represented only 34% of BAC members. Similarly, in Allegheny County, women made up 52% of the working age population and only represented 29% of BAC members (Webb, Hartough, & Reynolds et al, 2005) (See Table 1).

Table 1. City and County Women, Percentage of Working Age Population and BAC Membership, 2005.

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The study also found that African Americans were largely represented in accordance with the percentage of the population. At that time, the population of working age black men in the City of Pittsburgh was approximately 11%, and their membership in BACs stood at 12%. Working age black women represented 13% of the population of the city, and constituted 14% of BAC membership. In Allegheny County, black men made up approximately 5% of the population, and represented 17% of BAC members. Black women composed 6% of the population of the county, and constituted 5% of BAC membership. According to this data, the only portion of the African American population that was underrepresented on BACs were black women in Allegheny County. See Table 2.

Table 2. African American Representation on BACs, 2005.

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The most striking disparity in BAC membership, according to the Webb et al study, was the percentage of women on BACs. The study also noted that when women did outnumber men on BACs, they were largely in traditionally feminine roles. For instance, in 2005, women were the majority on the Shade Tree Commission, the Commission on Human Relations, and the Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee. Such “caretaker” type BACs hold with historic views of the types of jobs that women should hold in a society. In contrast, there were no women at all on the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, the Plumbing Advisory Board, the Equipment and Leasing Authority, the Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County, the Sports and Exhibition Authority, or the Regional Trail Corporation Board.

The CMU researchers noted that, at the time, city and county websites did not provide up-to-date information on BAC membership, vacancies, how to apply, and other pertinent information that would make membership more accessible. Looking at other regions of the country that did have adequate representation according to population on their boards, such as Minneapolis, Atlanta, Montgomery County, and Seattle-King County, the researchers made the following recommendations:

On City and County websites:

- Provide detailed and current information on BACs
- Provide a comprehensive listing of all BACs
- Provide a description of BAC purpose, responsibilities and composition requirements
- Provide information on BAC term lengths
- Provide a listing of current BAC members with names, photos, dates of appointment, and term expiration dates (including date last updated)
- Provide an application for BACs
- Provide information on how applications are processed
- Communicate BAC vacancies. Vacancies should be disseminated through community publications, school district newsletters, borough publications, and other free publications.

The researchers also called for legislation to address the disproportionate representation of women on BACs. The legislation was suggested to stipulate:

- Conducting an annual demographic assessment of each BAC’s membership that includes an aggregate total of board members’ race and gender as well as the race and gender composition of individual BACs, with the results publicly posted in online format.
-Institution of a training program for all new appointees to BACs in the City and County on effective governance and decision making.

Ordinance 351

In response to the Webb, Hartough, Reynolds et al study, the City of Pittsburgh passed Ordinance 35, sponsored by now-Mayor William Peduto, Twanda Carlisle, Sala Udin, Len Bodak, Dan Deasy, Jim Motznik, then-mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Gene Ricciardi, and Douglas Shields. (See Appendix A). The ordinance called for more online accessibility to information on BACs, including:

- Governing documents
- Membership lists
- Qualifications
- Online applications
- Lists of vacancies
- Residency and other requirements

In addition, the Mayor’s office was required to develop annual reports on BAC membership, including race and gender percentages of all members. As the current research will show, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s office failed to produce a single one of these reports, regardless of the fact that Ravenstahl was a sponsor of Ordinance 35. When the researchers contacted the current mayor about the board diversity reports, Mayor William Peduto, no response was forthcoming.

The city has, however, fulfilled its obligation to provide information on all BACs on its website. The front page of the Boards, Authorities, and Commissions section of Mayor Bill Peduto’s website has a link to Ordinance 35, a link to the BAC application, and links to summaries of all city BACs (See Appendix B). Allegheny County, while not under the authority of Ordinance 35, follows a similar fair representation law, and their website is equally easy to navigate (See Appendix C). An email address is provided for submitting applications for BAC positions, and a drop-down list directs visitors to detailed information about each county BAC.

While the required reporting has not been filed in accordance with Ordinance 35, the other recommendations of the Webb et al study have apparently been achieved. Information on city and county BACs is easily accessible on city and county websites, and electronic applications have been made available. The current research, taking this into consideration, aims to gauge if representation of women on BACs in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County has improved in line with the recommendations of the 2005 study.

Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Demographics and BAC Membership, 2006-2014

According to the US Census Bureau, in 2006 the population of Pittsburgh was approximately 68% white, 27% African American, and 52% female. The census of 2010 showed a similar population, with 66% being white, 26% African American, and 52% female (Census Viewer, 2012) (See Table 3).

Table 3. Population Characteristics of the City of Pittsburgh, 2006 and 2010.

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In Allegheny County, whites constituted 84% of the population in 2006, 12% were African American, and 53% were female. The numbers varied little in 2010, with the population being 81% white, 13% African American, and 52% female. So, the white population decreased by 3%, the African American population increased by 1%, and the female population decreased by 1% (Census Viewer Allegheny County, 2012) (See Table 4).

Table 4. Population Characteristics of Allegheny County, 2006 and 2010.

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BAC Membership in Pittsburgh under Ravenstahl.

Luke Ravenstahl, who took office as mayor of Pittsburgh in 2006, was one of the sponsors of Ordinance 35, the law that was created in response to the CMU study. Regardless, as noted above, Ravenstahl failed to create a single required diversity report (Stockton, 2012). However, his office was pressured by PublicSource in 2012, and after 2 ½ months, they were provided with gender and racial data on city BAC members. According to Ravenstahl’s office, in 2012 men accounted for 62% of BAC members, women comprised 38% of BAC members, 11% of BAC members were African American men, and 13% were African American women.

Regardless of the insistence by Ravenstahl that he, “[didn’t] think because there has been no formal submission to city council that it is in any way hampering our ability to have diversity or transparency,” (Stockton, 2012) the numbers as a percentage of population did not match. According to US Census data, men accounted for 48% of the population of the city at the time, women comprised 52% of the population, black men comprised 12%, and black women comprised 14% (See Table 5).

Table 5. Representation on City BACs, 2012

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As these numbers show, seven years after the CMU study, little progress was made in achieving diversity on public boards in the city of Pittsburgh. In 2005, women were underrepresented by 17% (Webb et al, 2005). From 2005 to 2012, an improvement of only 3% was made. As noted above, representation was reasonably adequate regarding African American representation on BACs. However, women as a whole were still dismally underrepresented.

BAC Membership in Allegheny County under Onorato.

Dan Onorato served as Allegheny County executive from 2004 to 2012. At the time of the CMU study, women constituted 51.6% of the working-age population, while African Americans made up 5.2% of the working-age population (Webb, Hartough, & Reynolds et al, 2005). BAC membership for these groups stood at 29% and 17%, respectively (See Table 6). This meant that women were underrepresented on county boards by 23%. African Americans were actually overrepresented by 12%

Table 6. Allegheny County Women and African American BAC Membership, 2005

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Since Allegheny County executives are not required to file diversity reports, information about BAC membership later on in Onorato’s term proved difficult to find. One article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette raised concern about the appointment of only middle-aged white men to the new City Oversight Board in 2004 (Barnes & McNulty, 2004). The Post-Gazette also, in 2012, published a three-part investigation into “The Network”—a collection of business people, lawyers, managers, and other powerful individuals who had formed an informal coalition to organize power in the region. Among the accusations were complaints that members of this network were being appointed to BACs (Lord, 2012).

In his state of the county address in 2007, Onorato stated, “In December, I signed an executive order that directs the County to develop and maintain a database of all boards, authorities, commissions and other entities over which the Chief Executive has appointment power, including information on the purpose, duties, composition and terms for each body. In addition, information regarding the age, sex, race, disability status and home municipality of each appointee currently serving will be gathered” (Onorato, 2007). The electronic database does exist, but the current researchers could find no record of the ages, sexes, races, disability statuses, and home municipalities of appointees who served on boards during that time.

BAC Membership in Pittsburgh under Peduto.

Mayor William Peduto, then a City Councilman, was the one who introduced Ordinance 35. However, when the current researchers reached out to his office to request the required diversity reports, no response was forthcoming. Using member lists from the city’s website, the current researchers compiled a listing of BAC members by gender. Information about the races of members of city BACs was unavailable. Since previous research has shown that African Americans are represented on boards in accordance with their percentage of the population, the current research focuses on gender diversity on BACs.

When Mayor Peduto took office in 2014, he requested the resignation of all prior mayoral appointments to ten city BACs: the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Housing Authority, City Planning Commission, Allegheny Regional Asset District, Allegheny County Sanitary Authority, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Parking Authority, Sports and Exhibition Authority, Stadium Authority and Zoning Board of Adjustment (Balingit, 2014). He then appointed 45 new individuals in to eleven BACs: ALCOSAN, Allegheny Regional Asset District, Planning Commission, Housing Authority, Parking Authority, Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority, Sports and Exhibition Authority, Stadium Authority, Urban Redevelopment Authority, Zoning Board of Adjustment, and Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission (McNulty, 2014). This is the most diverse group in the history of the City of Pittsburgh, with one quarter of the groups being African American and 55% being female (McNulty, 2014). Bill Peduto seems committed to increasing representation of women and African Americans on his boards, authorities, and commissions, though there is no information on representation of other races. His own team is made up of four women and three men (McNulty, 2014).

Regardless, women are still underrepresented on Pittsburgh BACs (See Table 7). There has been no improvement since data was collected from Ravenstahl’s office by PublicSource in 2012. Women are still underrepresented by 14%.



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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Allegheny County representation in government women's studies gender and public policy



Titel: Gender Diversity on Public Boards in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. A Ten-Year Retrospective