May 22, 2012

Connecticut’s women and Hispanics remain under-represented on state boards and commissions, while African-Americans have hit parity, authorities say.

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill Tuesday released her office’s biennial report on the gender and racial composition of public board and commissions that found “significant disparities” in the seating of women and Hispanics proportionate to their numbers in the state’s population.

“While 2011 numbers definitely show some improvements in the diversity of our state boards and commissions, it is still troubling that the representation of women and Hispanic members of our community on these crucial, deciding bodies is not where it needs to be,” Merrill said in a statement.

Women are a slim majority of the state’s population, yet there are still nearly 20 percent more men on these panels than women, she said. Still, that was better than the sampling two years ago.

“As this report shows, women are the only majority consistently treated as a minority,” said Teresa C. Younger, executive director of the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women.

Although Hispanics rank as the state’s fastest-growing minority, they make up fewer than 4 percent of public appointees, Merrill said.

Werner Oyanadel, acting executive director of the Latino and Puerto Rican Affairs Commission, said he was glad that at least Hispanics had some improvement in board-commission membership the past two years.

In 2011, for the first time since the state began tracking the data in 1993, representation of African-Americans on state boards and commissions reached parity with the percentage of blacks in the overall population of Connecticut.

Between 2009 and 2011, the percentage of African-Americans serving on state boards and commissions grew from 8.1 percent in 2009 to 9.5 percent in 2011. blacks make up 9.4 percent of Connecticut’s population, the state said, citing U.S. Census data.

Glenn Cassis, executive director of the African-American Affairs Commission, said that while pleased with African-Americans being in parity on boards and commissions, he, too, was dismayed by the surveys overall findings that show “challenges still remain.”

The office of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who along with the legislature, is responsible for nominating appointees, reacted to the report in a separate statement.

“The governor is glad we’re making progress in bringing diversity to our state’s boards and commissions, as the report points out,” it said. “The governor is committed to continuing to do everything he can to ensure that people of all backgrounds have an equal opportunity to serve state government in any role they choose.”

Original Article