Rowland plays the game, just not golf
One of the first and best nuggets of advice Janet Rowland received upon entering political life came from one of Grand Junction’s former leading female politicians.
“Kathy Hall told me it is more difficult for a woman. Just get over it,” Rowland recalled.
For the most part, Rowland, the only female Mesa County commissioner, feels constituents have gotten over seeing her gender as a factor.
Still, Rowland said, inequities are inherent in the political realm in small ways, even for a two-term commissioner.
Dressing down during the summer, for example, occasionally wearing shorts and a T-shirt to public events, as her counterpart Commissioner Craig Meis is known to do, would definitely be scrutinized, she said. And, if a woman is acting aggressively, there’s a b-word for that, but who would bat an eye at a confrontational male?
“When there’s a debate between two women, it’s called a cat fight,” she said. “When men go at it, it’s normal.”
Rowland worked in private practice as a psychotherapist and for the Mesa County Department of Human Services, investigating incidents of child abuse and neglect. In 2004, when she first ran for commissioner, her son was a teenager. She doubts she would have run for an office if her child had been younger, but in some ways she questions whether not entering poliitcs earlier was a missed opportunity.
“Sometimes I felt like I was behind 10 or 15 years,” she said. In retrospect, if she started earlier in politics, perhaps she would now serve state or federal political roles.
With her background in human services, Rowland was careful during her first run not to focus too much on that aspect: an agency tasked with roles that much of her conservative base doesn’t fully understand, she said.
After her term is up at the end of 2012, at which point she’s term-limited, Rowland said she probably will seek work in the private sector.
She would have to balance whether running for office again is worth the “blood, sweat and tears” of seeing results of creating change versus living locally and being near her family and grandchild.
During the past six years, serving as one of the county’s leaders, Rowland said she refuses to learn how to play golf as way to fit in with mostly men who play the game.
“Why can’t we conduct business while at the mall?” she countered.