Local Women in Government Panel to Honor the 19th Amendment


On Feb. 26 four women with active roles in Butte County’s government and Chico State’s student government sat at a panel to honor the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment.

The celebration of the 19th Amendment was a weeklong event on campus with several activities and informational sessions that occurred every day of the week. These events were meant to bring light and honor for women earning the right to vote. 

“There is no challenge that I have faced or will face in the future compared to what we are celebrating today,” member of the Butte County Board of Supervisors Tami Ritter said.

“In terms of the biggest challenge I have faced from being a woman in government, is the knowledge of our county being a huge boy’s club,” Ritter said. “Sexism and homophobia is very alive and well within my field.” 

Butte County Superior Court Judge Honorable Kimberly Merrifield explained how important it is to have people from different races, genders and backgrounds in our government today, but it doesn’t exclude how challenges are still being fought by women.

“I would agree there are many challenges to being a woman in government,” Merrifield said.“Weekly I am referred to as ‘sir.’ I generally just gloss right over it, but it’s still something I am facing every day.”

Student Academic Senator for the College of Communication and Education Amanda Widgay explained how even though there are challenges with being a woman in government, there are other women within her environment that help inspire her and lift her up.

“Nine out of the 17 elected student officers in the Associated Students are women, and we have all made it clear that we have each other’s backs,” Widgay said. “Whether it’s writing a piece of legislation or tackling a huge research assignment, we are there for each other.”

Butte County Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Casey Hatcher further explained how sometimes women’s relationships within a government workplace can sometimes get strained due to competition. 

“I think one of the pitfalls you can fall into as a woman in a government workplace is the temptation of not lifting other women up and to feel competitive about their jobs,” Hatcher said. “I have a close group of women that I work with at the county and we are very conscious of not letting a barrier such as that get in between us and our work.” 

Hatcher explained the benefits of a government job when providing advice for students or the community who would potentially be interested in pursuing a career within the government.

“As a society we pass laws such as women earning the same wage as men or other measures of equality and these laws show up in our government organizations first,” Hatcher said.“We truly benefit from this. I can say that I have benefited from this. One of the things about working in the government is having some of these benefits because it creates leadership positions that women are meant to have.”

Ritter, Merrifield, Hatcher and Widgay all advocated for women in the local community to look into pursuing government careers due to the beneficial and powerful outcomes society receives from having a more diverse group within our branches of power. 

Angelina Mendez can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @theorion_angie