Austin’s City Council is currently dominated by women as they hold seven of the ten available positions.
With the influx of women, a unique two-hour training session took place on March 27 featuring two speakers from Florida who covered the topic of working with women, the Austin American-Statesman newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The training session, which was captured on video by the city government’s television station ATXN, was titled “The Changing Dynamics in Governance; Women Leading in Local Government.”
Jonathan Allen, the city manager of Lauderdale Lakes, Fla., was the first speaker to address the city hall staff, according to the paper. The American-Statesman pointed out that his classification as an “expert” on the topic was based on the fact that his local council was made up entirely of women.
The paper reported that during the session, Allen said that instead of reading agenda information, women ask questions. He advised staff members that while it may seem easier to instruct women to read the packet, “the importance of being patient” should be remembered during these times. Allen credited his 11-year-old daughter with teaching him this lesson.
Allen also reportedly said women would prefer to hear how implementations impact “the whole community” versus being shown the financial argument. According to the paper, Allen said that while presenting the financial analysis may make sense, if he wants to secure votes with his all-women council, he has to present information “in a totally different way.”
“You see women in leadership positions…you will have to interact with them in a different way,” Allen reportedly reminded attendees.
The second speaker at the seminar, Miya Burt-Stewart, was the owner of a business development and marketing firm, according to the American-Statesman. She reportedly relied on lessons she’d learned from “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”
Burt-Stewart emphasized the importance of acknowledging gender differences, according to the paper. She reportedly pointed out that “Men have egos, women have wish lists,” that men are more “dominating” while women are “compromising,” and that, while men think women ask too many questions, women often feel excluded.
The paper also noted that Burt-Stewart seemed to suggest that women require more effort and are more work than men. “You are probably expected to be at 1,000 percent where it used to be 100 percent,” Burt-Stewart said.
The American-Statesman contacted Austin city spokesman David Green, who discussed the rationale behind the training. Green told the paper the seminar was meant to address the “historic change” in the city council’s makeup.
According to the paper, Green also addressed the fact that most of the audience at the training session on how to work with women was comprised of women. He told the American-Statesman that while the seminar was offered to various departments, “internal employee affinity groups” such as the “Woman-to-Woman” group were targeted.
The full video of the training seminar was removed from the City of Austin website on Wednesday, according to a news release.
Watch a segment of the training in the video below, courtesy of ATXN: