Governor Jerry Brown must fill positions on about 300 state boards and commissions. Roughly half of his appointees are women.
Appointments Secretary Mona Pasquil says the administration wants appointees to be qualified and diverse.
"Historically there were some boards when we first started that hadn’t had a woman on the board since the 70’s. And we have appointed more women and people of color to those boards," she says. "And so I think it’s important because it’s got to reflect the state."
Pasquil says she usually has to ask a woman about three times before she’ll apply for a position. And she says many college women she speaks with are unaware appointments are available.
"I was recently at both UCLA and USC. The feedback that I got, in fact a number of the letters I got back, these young women said I didn’t know it was an opportunity for me," she says. "Yes it is."
Pasquil says she has seen people make the jump from serving on a board or commission to being an elected official. Rachel Michelin is with California Women Lead, which helps women become politically involved. She agrees being an appointee can serve as a stepping stone.
"Sen. Dianne Feinstein, she was in appointed office before she was elected," she says. "So for a lot of women it’s a great opportunity to get their feet wet, to understand public policy, to understand what it means to be a policy maker."
But not everyone wants to run for elected office and Michelin believes some boards and commissions can be more influential than elected positions.
"They are making policy that sometimes goes under the radar," she says. "People don’t always pay attention to what goes on in some of these boards that are passing forward… issues pertaining to health care, pertaining to transportation, pertaining to the environment."
Michelin says more women need to apply for appointed positions. Her organization runs training sessions throughout the state to help women with the process.