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Public policy; Women--Government policy--Minnesota; Women politicians--Minnesota


Women are Minnesota's greatest untapped resource. Despite significant growth in the visibility of women in public life, the talents and contributions of Minnesota's female citizens are not yet being fully utilized. In this last decade of the century, the state faces policy challenges in human services, the environment, the economy. To most effectively meet these challenges, we need to find ways to integrate women's voices more fully into public policy.

Meeting this challenge is in everyone's interest for several reasons. For one thing, it will make our public endeavors more equitable. Any society that makes decisions for all based on the experiences of a minority (white males, by and large Minnesota's decision-makers, constitute about 47 percent of the state's population) is depriving itself of a critical data base that would enrich those decisions. It is human nature to notice and respond to what you have personally experienced, and even well-meaning men may overlook implications of decisions they make for the lives of women or children. Further, because women don't have the same investment in "the system" as those who have always viewed themselves heirs to its rewards, they may be able to see and articulate new ways to frame ideas, new approaches to implementing these ideas, new standards for measuring their success.

An infusion of women's voices and perspectives into the various decision-making bodies and processes of our state is important for another reason, too: It promises greater possibility for transforming and enriching our public policy. Women will bring perceptions and priorities to the public arena that are missing or muted now. Integrating what are generally seen as "female values," such as nurturance and cooperation, into our public policy and our cultural norms increases chances for a more respectful, equitable, and humane society for all.

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