Last Friday, I served on a panel at the National Conference of State Legislatures under the session title “Generational Divide.” Natalie O’Donnell Wood, Senior Policy Specialist for NCSL, kicked us off with a great presentation on her research regarding the experience of Boomers and Millennials in the environment of state legislatures:
Then I shared some thoughts based on questions from the panel organizer: “How do we get Millennials in the doors?”, “Will Gen X climb the ladder?” and “Are Boomers really retiring?”
Following our presentations, we received reactions and feedback from JoAnn Hedrick, Chief Clerk of the Delaware House of Representatives, Patsy Spaw, Secretary of the Texas Senate, and Scott Keeter, Director of Survey Research for Pew Research Center. Some of their insights included:
– the difference in “social values” among the generations, with the younger generations being more “liberal” and “tolerant” based on their attitudes toward diversity.
– the importance of instilling in the next generation a “love of the legislative process” through education and mentoring
– finding creative ways for the next generation to move up and around so that they are enticed to remain in state legislative jobs versus finding other places to advance
– using technology as a way to slow down the process vs. speeding it up such that there is limited time to think and examine before speeding ahead, and possibly making bad legislation
Scott Keeter also referenced a great report from Pew on the Millennial generation, which I embedded below: