From the Water Education Foundation (Gary Pitzer).:
Western Water Notebook: since late 2017, women have taken leading roles at Reclamation, DWR, Metropolitan Water District and other key water agencies.
The 1992 election to the United States Senate was famously coined the “Year of the Woman” for the record number of women elected to the upper chamber.
In the water world, 2018 has been a similar banner year, with noteworthy appointments of women to top leadership posts in California — Karla Nemeth at the California Department of Water Resources and Gloria Gray at the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.
On the national level, Jayne Harkins was appointed in September to lead the U.S. Section of the International Boundary and Water Commission (IBWC) for the United States and Mexico. And in July, Amy Haas was named executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission, the first woman to hold that title in its 70-year history. They followed Brenda Burman’s appointment in late 2017 to become the first female commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in its 116-year history.
Women have had their hands in water issues for a long time, but their presence has been spotlighted by those key appointments and the understanding that in what’s traditionally been a male-dominated field, women are seizing the opportunity to contribute to the discussion and have their voices heard.
“Since 2001, when I arrived in California, I’ve met so many great women doing impactful work at the local, state and national levels, both in agencies and in the nonprofit and business sectors,” said Ellen Hanak, director of the Public Policy Institute of California’s Water Policy Center. “What’s really striking now is how many women are in leadership positions — a trend I hope to see continue.”
Women engaged in water policy issues say their work is a tribute to those who entered the field previously.
“There is a trend of more women going into the field of water policy/law because of a sustained effort by women who have pioneered going into this field to reach back and pull more women with them,” said Kim Delfino, California program director with Defenders of Wildlife and former California Water Commission member. “I think that the trajectory has been always pointed toward an increase in women coming into this field. It is now more noticeable because the numbers have finally added up to a more substantial showing. Further, social media makes it easier to communicate and show the numbers of women in the field of water.”
Click through for the great photo gallery timeline highlighting women in water.