By Gina Martinez
Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) has introduced a bill that aims to increase the number of women on state public boards.
The bill will target all statewide public authorities, local development corporations, and industrial development agencies and would ensure adequate female representation and appointments of commissioners to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Rozic has partnered with the New Jersey State Legislature on the bill, including Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Cherry Hill), who will be introducing similar legislation in the New Jersey Assembly.
Rozic said she was inspired to introduce this bill after reading accounts about a lack of diversity on the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners in 2016. Just last week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Council on Women and Girls announced their agenda to increase the number of women on state boards.
“I decided to take an in-depth look into women’s leadership positions across state boards,” she said. “Since then, three women have been appointed to PANYNJ’s board, but New York has a long way to go in closing the gender leadership gap. I applaud Governor Cuomo for including this issue among his priorities this year and look forward to increased diversity on our public boards.”
Rozic’s bill would direct appointing powers, including the governors of New York and New Jersey, to make appointments of commissioners that ensure that women make up 50 percent of appointed commissioners. Data compiled by the state Authorities Budget Office in 2015 showed that although women make up more than half of New York’s population, they constitute only 21.7 percent of positions on local development corporations, 20.26 percent of industrial development agencies, and 20.9 percent of other LDCs and state public authorities.
The Port Authority is led by a board of 12 commissioners, three of them women, and no public state board in New York consists of a majority of women.
Rozic said that while gender-quota directives are more common to increase women’s leadership on corporate boards in the private sector, their enactment has proved successful in closing the leadership gap.
Lampitt, of New Jersey, said more should be done this year to ensure equal representation.
“Since its establishment, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Board of Commissioners has been disproportionately comprised of white males,” she said. “This is unacceptable in this day and age, and we must do more to foster diversity and promote equal representation within our public institutions.”
Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmart