As the first woman to lead the US House of Representatives Office of Inspector General, I’m probably supposed to say that I had to blaze a tough trail and had to break through a male-imposed glass ceiling. But that’s not the case. What I have discovered is that the American dream is alive and well. If you work hard enough, you can be anything, regardless of your gender or background.
Many people don’t even know what an Inspector General does. We are auditors. I am also not the only Inspector General. Each major department in the federal government has an Inspector General. We audit all of the standard financial and administrative functions that any business needs to run effectively and efficiently, such as payroll, HR and information technology. It just happens that the business I support is the U.S. House of Representatives. Working in the Inspector General community has been fascinating and rewarding. Even after 20 years of progressing up the ranks, I come into work every day feeling like I can make a difference.
I have to admit I did not start out in accounting or auditing. In fact, I started college as a science geek, majoring in pre-med/biology. Then I discovered that dissecting animals was not for me, so a counselor steered me into accounting.
When I graduated and took my first job at a field office for the Department of DefenseInspector General, it was definitely a man’s world. In fact, I was part of a group of three women grads who were brought on at the same time; we were the first female auditors the field office ever hired.
That made for a bit of a culture clash and many memorable moments. I still recall one of my first team leaders floating the suggestion that if I spent more time on finding a husband, I could stay home and raise a family and free up the job for a male auditor. Because it was already the early 1990s and his thinking was so undeniably dinosaur-like, I was more amused than offended. I promptly ignored his advice and got on with my career.