It’s safe to say there have been a lot of “firsts” during the tenure of President Barack Obama. His election is the most notable as the first African-America president.
Another first came recently when Obama named the first woman as the head of the secret service. He appointed Julia Pierson as the next director of the U.S. Secret Service on March 27, making her the first woman ever to hold that job. Hooray for progress!
I was happy to read about that appointment. It not only shows times are changing but are changing for the better when it comes to gender equality in employment and leadership.
The 53-year-old was chosen for her experience rather than her gender. Her 30 years of experience was enough to lead to her promotion. Pierson was named director while she was serving as the chief of staff for the secret service, the agency that, among other things, is expected to protect the president, Vice President Joe Biden, the first family and other designees. She succeeds former Director Mark Sullivan in the post. Sullivan announced his retirement earlier this year following almost 30 years with the agency and almost seven years of which he was director.
All I could say was “Wow!” as I continued to read the newspaper article. I hope other women and girls who learn about this historic feat do the same someday. It should make us all proud.
After I read the story I started to think about other women who stand out in leadership roles. I thought about Condoleeza Rice and Hilary Clinton. Rice served as the 66th United States Secretary of State and was the first female African-American to serve in that post. Rice also served as President George W. Bush’s National Security advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that position. Clinton is an American politician who was the 67th U.S. Secretary of State from 2009-13, serving under Obama. She was previously a U.S. senator from New York from 2001-09. These are just two examples in the government sector. But what about the representation of women in other areas?
According to the 2012 Catalyst Census, women representation in Fortune 500 business has stagnated in recent years. In 2012, 14 percent of executive officers at Fortune 500 companies were women. Their representation made up 14.1 percent in 2011. During the same year about 16.6 percent of board seats were held by women. In 2011, 16.1 percent of board members were women. Those percentages remained close to the same for the last three years and only increased by a few percentage points since 2009 when women made up 13.5 percent of executive officers and about 15 percent of boards.
It’s taken years for women to achieve high-leadership posts so when they do, it’s worth noting. I was happy to see Pierson’s accomplishment on the front pages of national and local newspapers. In my opinion, her promotion is definitely worth noting.