WXXI AM News

Statewide program helps women in county government

Sep 24, 2018

A series of roundtable discussions was hosted Monday by the NYSAC (New York State Association of Counties) Women's Leadership Council, a statewide program focused specifically on providing support to women in county government. NYSAC is holding its fall seminar in Rochester this weeek.

The discussions covered subjects like women voting, fundraising, and personal and professional growth.

MaryEllen Odell is the Putnam County Executive and chair of the council and talked about a younger woman in a newly elected position she once met at an prior conference.

"It was sad to see her explain how she was struggling being accepted and respected as a woman in government."

Odell hoped after meeting with the group she now knew she wasn’t alone.

"We would always be there for her as she met those challenges, in addition to just her responsibilities in her new role. But we would be there as a resource of compassion and understanding."

She said she’s seeing more women interested in government roles, but not until after they’ve raised children.

Martha Robertson is a Tompkins County Legislator and says often times women don’t have the same support as men.

"Unfortunately a lot of times we internalize that and maybe think, "Oh I couldn’t do that, I’m not qualified." and research has actually shown that that last statement "I’m not qualified" tends not to hold men back but it tends to hold women back."

Robertson says women could bring new ideas and leadership styles to their roles, but if women don’t want to enter government themselves, she hopes they at least vote.