The 16/50 Story

Women represent just 16% of Michigan’s local chief administrative officers. This leadership gap is inexcusable. We’re doing something about it.

Highly qualified women entering the field encounter barriers in the selection process. The next generation of female leaders is being left untapped. Aspiring managers are eager for development opportunities to advance and prepare them for greater responsibilities. Through the 16/50 Project, the Michigan Municipal League is working to address these issues. We’re ready to move the needle upward on the number of women serving at the most executive level of government.


Learn more about the barriers for female professionals seeking to move toward the chief administrative officer roles in local government by reading ICMA’s Report on the Status of Women in the Profession.

The 16/50 Project is supported by organizations dedicated to the empowerment of women as leaders. Thanks to their assistance, we are able to execute these programs and provide these resources.

Why 16/50?

Women make up over 50% of the state’s general population, but a mere 16% of Michigan municipal managers are women.

Making the Case for Women's Leadership

Not just about parity: the number of women as local chief administrative officers matters to community success.

In 2014, ICMA issued its Report on the Status of Women in the Profession, detailing the case for female leadership in local government chief administrative offices.

The report found:

  • Across public and private sectors, organizations that have achieved a more equitable gender balance have experienced greater organizational success.
  • Gender balance was found to be the key driver of innovation.
  • Gender balance in the top position – the chief executive – is crucial to setting the tone for the organization as a whole.

The demographics of an organization have shown to influence individual behavior, culture, employee health, and organizational performance. A lack of gender diversity in organizations can have a big price tag in lost productivity and financial success. With no or few women in positions of power, gender persists as a salient factor with negative consequences for women throughout an organization, despite balanced representation in non-managerial roles.

Striving for more diversity can have a huge payoff for communities. In addition, as we strive to deal with changing demographics and ensure that the workforce at all levels reflects the communities being served, embracing diversity of all types—including gender—is essential for the future health of our communities.

The Three Focus Areas

With a focus on the unique skills and challenges that women bring to and face in the profession, the 16/50 Project will work to deliver impactful education and awareness to remove barriers for women seeking the highest level of the profession, provide exclusive professional development opportunities, and foster key opportunities for a new generation of female leaders.


The Elected Officials Impact

One of the greatest barriers preventing women from ascending to executive office is inherent bias in the selection process. With access to all local elected officials in Michigan through the League, 16/50 is uniquely situated to address this problem through education and awareness efforts.


Professional Development for Advancing Women

Women executives, and those who seek to become them, face unique challenges. By providing women with content, tools, and opportunities that can help serve their specific needs, 16/50 will develop strong local managers – and strong local communities.


Developing Tomorrow’s Women Managers

In order to achieve greater equity in local government executive offices, we must attract a new generation of women graduates to the profession.

16/50 will be proactive in outreach and recruitment to help bring interested candidates to the profession and encourage women just getting started.

Meet the 16/50 Work Group

The 16/50 Project Work Group consists of former and current managers and elected officials who are assisting in the development of the programs that are part of the 16/50 Project. These volunteers are contributing their ideas to help make the various initiatives robust and meaningful in the League’s effort to increase female representation in the municipal management profession.

Executive Profiles