West Texas Women in Leadership Roles

West Texas Women in Leadership Roles

Some people believe that in 2015 we're still living in a male dominated society. Others believe that the times are changing when it comes to the work force, and that more women are filling those leadership roles.

According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, as of 2014, women who worked full-time made only 79 cents for every dollar that was earned by a man with the same job title. Research suggests that if we continue at the same pace it could take until the year 2059 for women to finally reach equal pay. Even with gender inequality in the workplace, women are continuing to rise above and land powerful positions as CEO's, managers, and political figures.

Jackie Rutledge, Vice President and General Manager of Midessa Television said, "When you go to an NBC meeting you see that there are a lot of men managers, but there's more and more females now that are managers. When I started out twenty-five years ago as a GM, I was probably one of five. Now that's not true anymore, there are more female General Managers. 
A study done by Pew Research shows that the number of women leaders has actually grown. The study suggests that most Americans believe a woman will be elected as president within their lifetime. Right now there are two leading ladies in politics, Democratic candidate Hilary Clinton and Republican candidate Carly Fiorina. Both women serve as strong candidates in the 2016 presidential race. Of the people we interviewed, many believe that people are more accepting of placing women in positions of power. 
"I don't think that anyone ever said they can't promote her because she's female or they're going to promote her because she's female. Either way, I really believe that when you do a good job, work hard, and you know your business and how to conduct yourself, people will see that," said Rutledge.

Several West Texas women have taken on leadership roles. Venetta Seals is the current mayor of Pecos. She entered office in May of 2010 and has served for over five years. Mayor Seals believes that, "Often the female approach to a situation and the delivery of a decision is more refined. Women generally do care more about the human aspect and how their decisions will affect the citizens of our community."

Mayor Flora Braly of Andrews was elected as a Councilwoman in 2003 and as Mayor Pro-tem in 2014. NewsWest9 spoke with Mayor Braly to find out her perspective on being a woman in leadership.

"The world is full of women that are very intelligent, they're "go-getters". They understand what the issues are, and they want to do whats right in their communities or in the country. So, when you bring that energy together with the men, we work really well here and we've been doing it for a long time," said Braly.

In fact, the city of Andrews has lots of "first ladies". Andrews is home to the first female Mayor in the city, the first ever woman to become a County Commissioner, and the first African American woman to serve on the council.

Jeneane Anderegg, County Commissioner, said, "When I became a commissioner, I was appointed. The previous commissioner decided to step down. There were five of us that applied and when I applied, I had no idea that I was going to be the first woman Commissioner, but I am, and I love this job."

Andrews Councilwoman, Carolyn Jones, said, "I am the first African American woman on the council, so friends had really really encouraged me to run. I ran once before unsuccessfully, decided to run again with friends backing me and won that time."     
In September of 2014, the Permian Basin gained another leading lady. Governor Greg Abbott appointed Sara Kate Billingsley as the 446th District Court Judge. Billingsley is the first ever female District Court Judge for Ector County.

In October of 2014, Midland Councilwoman Sharla Hotchkiss was awarded woman of the year by the Uptown Midland Business & Professional women. Their mission is to fight for workplace equality and help women achieve success. In today's society achieving that success has become a lot easier as women continue to make leaps and bounds in the job force.

"I have been pushed up and lifted up by the other women that have come before me in so many other positions, City Council, the Chamber, all the different things that women are involved in here. We've still got positions that women haven't conquered yet, I'm going to say conquered, because I feel like women are out there and women are still moving forward," said Carolyn Jones.

"I would like to encourage them to get involved and know that you can make a difference and it's possible, to dream big and go for it. If you feel like you can, and you've got something, you love your community or your job and you want to represent on a higher level, you go for it," said Mayor Braly.