Corbett's cabinet a regular boys club

Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele is one of five women in Gov. Corbett's 23-member Cabinet. Ed Rendell had seven women in his Cabinet at the same point. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele is one of five women in Gov. Corbett's 23-member Cabinet. Ed Rendell had seven women in his Cabinet at the same point. ASSOCIATED PRESS
Posted: July 31, 2012

WHEN IT COMES to top jobs in Gov. Corbett's administration, it's definitely something of a boys club.

Although women account for more than 51 percent of the state's population, they account for less than 22 percent of Corbett's Cabinet. Just five women make up Corbett's 23-member Cabinet, which includes officials who run the state's top executive agencies and departments.

One of the five, Commonwealth Secretary Carol Aichele, is the wife of Corbett's chief of staff and former general counsel, Stephen Aichele. Corbett named Philadelphia lawyer James D. Schultz on July 23 to succeed Aichele as general counsel, which is a Cabinet post.

Another of Corbett's female cabinet appointees, Julia Hearthway, the secretary of labor and industry, was a former top deputy to Corbett when he was attorney general.

Corbett has two fewer women in his Cabinet than his predecessor, Ed Rendell, had in his Cabinet at a comparable point in his governorship.

And none of the Cabinet agencies that have been making the most news in Corbett's first term — Education, Public Welfare, Budget and Community & Economic Development — is headed by a woman. In contrast, Rendell appointed women to head Education and Public Welfare in his first term.

Veteran Harrisburg observers say they are not surprised by the paucity of women at the highest levels of the Corbett administration.

"Harrisburg is still pretty much an old-boys network," said G. Terry Madonna, director of the Center of Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster.

Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts noted in an email that the governor has women in other top administration jobs and added that Corbett "spends a large amount of his time in the community attending events across the commonwealth where he talks directly to women who live in Pennsylvania."

U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, a Democrat representing Philadelphia and Montgomery counties, noted that even if there were more women in Corbett's administration, they likely would share his ideology — so it wouldn't necessarily mean more-generous social policies for women and children.

"It's always important to have your Cabinet be representative of the state," Schwartz said. "If it were women, it could be Republican women who could well agree with him. … There certainly are Republican women who are willing to cut domestic-violence and cancer-prevention [funding]."

Contact Michael Hinkelman at 215-854-2656 or hinkelm@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter @MHinkelman.

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