Austin City Council "appalled" by man's advice on working with female officials

Austin's majority female city council is outraged by comments from a consultant at the city's chambers in March. The instructor claims women tend to ask a lot of questions, and are not fond of discussing financial matters.

Wednesday afternoon, council members addressed the video of the training session on March 27 that they says reflects poor stereotypes of women in leadership roles. It has left many wondering why City Manager Marc Ott approved of the training in the first place.

"If you use or attempt to use the same communication or management techniques that you used or attempted to use in a predominantly male dominated environment, you will be making a serious error in your professional development, because they don't process things the same way," said Jonathan Allen, Lauderdale Lakes, Florida City Manager.

That remark, among many more has the majority female Austin City Council fuming.

Former Lauderdale Lakes City Manager Jonathan Allen is getting major backlash about his views on women in leadership roles.

He came to Austin's City Council chambers in March to speak at a seminar titled "The Changing Dynamics in Governance: Women Leading in Local Government.

"I heard about it last night and was. Speechless," said Leslie Pool, Austin City Council Member.

Allen's further comments included women's ability to handle financial decisions.

"It may make good financial sense, but if I want to get it through and get the necessary votes, I have to present it a totally different way," said Allen.

"Oh math is hard, right. Well I took Qualitative Analysis in my Master's Degree class at the LBJ School a decade or more ago, and I actually did pretty darn well," said Pool.

City Manager Marc Ott says the city holds diversity trainings all the time, and this one simply slipped through his fingers.

"I take responsibility for this. The buck stops at the city manager so I take responsibility, it should not have happened, it should have been vetted," said Ott.

Ott says he apologizes that this happened and city council members say this is the perfect opportunity to have a conversation about women in leadership roles.

"Completely inconsistent with our values as an organization and the workforce that supports the values of this organization, and entirely inconsistent with the values of the City of Austin," said Ott.

"It occurs to me that we can also use this incident as a way to move forward," said Kathie Tovo, Austin City Council Member.

Ott says the training session was pitched more on a diversity angle. Jonathan Allen has since been fired from his role as City Manager in Lauderdale Lakes. The City of Austin says they are removing the video from their website.


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