Advocates, Legislators Call for Gender Parity on Mass. Public Boards

March 21, 2019

By Kaitlyn Budion

State House News Service

BOSTON -- Legislators and advocates have called for gender parity on public boards and commissions, and Speaker Pro Tempore Patricia Haddad said legislators have a “strong obligation” to improve the situation.

Haddad and Sen. Jason Lewis spoke at an event with the Eos Foundation, which released a report about the gender representation on 50 public boards and commissions. Lewis and Haddad have sponsored an act to ensure gender parity on public boards and commissions.

“It has to be that there is a decision made every day when you get up in the morning, to make sure that you promote women,” Haddad said. “And you promote women of color, you promote different ethnicities and you promote differences in people because they enrich us.”

Starting on Jan. 1, 2022, legislation pending on Beacon Hill would require that all appointed public boards and commissions have at least 50 percent women board members or commissioners, and when “practicable” will reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the general population.

“Diversity in our state’s workforce and particularly in our leadership, in both the public sector and the private sector, I think is critically important,” Lewis said. “It’s critically important, first of all, because it’s the right thing to do. And it’s critically important as an economic imperative for the state of Massachusetts.”