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Four women in public administration inspire higher roles

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To pay homage to women’s history month, four women in public administration shared their stories at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa about their struggles in a male dominated field.

Their message was forward: stop apologizing.

The panelists were Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard, former Hawai‘i Superintendent of Education Kathryn Matayoshi, foreign policy advisor of U.S. Indo-PACOM Candy Green and executive director of the Nature Conservancy of Hawai‘i Ulalia Woodside.

“Since the passage of the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, women have made great strides in the labor force. However, women are still underrepresented in management positions, especially executive-level management positions,” assistant professor of the public administration program Helen Yu said.

 “To illustrate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women represent 47 percent of all working Americans but they account for just 39.2 percent of all management jobs and less than 28 percent of all executive-level positions across both public and private employment sectors. Although gains have been made, we need to do more to ensure our public workforce represents the diversity of the communities they serve,” Yu said.

Approximately 50 people, men and women, attended the event.

UH Mānoa’s public administration program has been working on the event for two semesters. 

UH Mānoa graduate student Alohilani Maiava, who works for nonprofit Hui Mālama O Ke Kai, said she appreciated the advice as a student being able to interact in the field. 

“I do feel the big question ‘what are you doing next, and what’s your career path?’” Maiava said. “It was satisfying that to hear that careers can be very flexible and you should know, be dead set on a position because it’s going to get you somewhere.”