Women are underrepresented on civic boards and commissions.
Established by the Women’s Foundation in 2014, the Appointments Project® works to empower women and strengthen communities by increasing the gender diversity of civic boards and commissions. Through a landmark study, we identified the barriers causing women to be underrepresented on civic boards and commissions, and we established the Appointments Project® to improve the number of women serving.
Research + Appointments Project® = Results
Gender diversity on civic boards and commissions increases effectiveness and improves public trust. Grounded in research, our Appointments Project® builds stronger communities and enhances collaboration.
In 2014, the Women’s Foundation commissioned a research study lead by Dr. Barbara Kerr, a researcher and professor at the University of Kansas, with the following objectives:
- Gain descriptive information about women’s attitudes towards civic engagement
- Compare responses at three levels of civic engagement
- Draw themes from small groups
After three months of online surveys, focus groups, and analysis, the results highlight the significant barriers that keep women from becoming involved in boards and commissions.
Key Findings from the 2014 Study
Key Finding 1
Women who have not served feel that they don’t have the knowledge and expertise needed, and feel less confident in their leadership skills. Previous volunteer work added to their confidence.
Key Finding 2
Women believe that they won’t be asked to serve, although they would like to. They were concerned about selection processes, not knowing how selection was done.
Key Finding 3
Structural issues were equally important to all groups: women wanted to be absolutely sure that time was spent efficiently; that meetings were conveniently scheduled; and that they would see results of their efforts for the time spent.
Key Finding 4
Women need mentoring in order to feel knowledgeable, confident, and to feel a sense of belonging.
Key Finding 5
Board leadership needs training in how to be more inclusive of women and minorities, how to run meetings democratically, and how to hold timely and efficient meetings.
Appointments Project® Case Studies
Kansas City, Missouri
The Appointments Project® partnered with Kansas City Mayor Sly James to increase the number of women serving on Kansas City’s public boards and commissions. As a result, the percentage of women represented on Kansas City, Missouri’s civic boards and commissions increased from 33% in 2014 to 42% in 2017.
Accepting the Challenge
Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona
Currently, in Tucson, less than 27% of all civic board and commission seats are held by women, and only 28% in the State of Arizona, but we can change this! By asking women to step into these leadership positions, and creating a pipeline for elected official to reach these candidates, we can create gender equity in our community representation.
- BreAnna MonkKansas Volunteer Commission“I am passionate about giving back to my community and as a volunteer leader my focus is engaging people of all ages on these endeavors. I look forward to taking my skills to the next level and serve on a state-wide board that shares my passion of collaboration and civic engagement and learned about this opportunity through the Appointments Project®."
- Cynthia HoppTopeka Human Relations Commission“As an educator I am passionate about helping my students achieve their goals, and with the help of the Appointments Project® I am able to make an even larger impact in the lives of people in my community.”
- Jane WaltonState of Missouri Interior Design Commission“When I heard about the Appointments Project® I knew I wanted to get involved. I am very proud of my appointment to the State of Missouri Interior Design Commission.”
- Kellyann Jones-JamtgaardKansas City Health Commission“I have always wanted to be more involved in public service and give back to my community but wasn’t sure here to start – meeting with the Appointments Project® staff helped me to realize that everything I had done up to this point had prepared me to serve on a city commission.”
- St. Joseph Mayor Bill McMurrayCity of St. Joseph“Here in St. Joseph we’re always looking for ways to make local government more open, transparent, and accountable – and the Appointments Project® fits right in with those goals,” said Mayor Bill McMurray. “We are very proud to be working with the Women’s Foundation on this innovative initiative that will encourage more women to apply for positions on our boards and commissions, which play a critical role in moving our city forward.”
- Topeka Mayor Michelle de La IslaCity of Topeka“Topeka has already appointed five strong women leaders to our city boards through the Appointments Project®. I look forward to continuing our collaboration and engaging more women throughout our community on civic boards and commissions.”
Frequently Asked Questions
For women interested in serving on a civic board, please fill out the application located here. For women interested in trainings to learn more about the Appointments Project and getting involved, sign up here. For political executives interested in collaborating with us to improve civic board diversity, please fill out this form. For organizations interested in partnering with the Appointments Project in your community, please fill out this form. For organizations interested in sponsorship of our work, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
There are no costs associated for applicants, political executives, or currently serving civic board members.
Yes, we welcome all women, political executives, and currently serving civic board members to get involved. We value diversity, equity, and inclusion.
We are here to help. To begin, share your contact information with us by filling out our contact form, and we’ll set up a time to visit with you about strategies to improve the civic board diversity in your community.
Learn more about completing an application with the Appointments Project®.
Your Community and the Appointments Project
Reach out to learn more about partnering with the Appointments Project® in your community, sponsoring a training, or attending an upcoming event.