A city councillor says it would be easier to strive for gender parity on city boards and commissions if she had more information about applicants.

Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart and the rest of city council is spending time this week poring over hundreds of resumes.

The applications are from citizens seeking city positions.

She said she could make choices to ensure there's more diversity of gender or ethnicity on boards and commissions if she had more detailed information from applicants.

"We've been talking about this for the 17 years I've been on council," Colley-Urquhart said Monday.

"We haven't made much progress really at all."

The councillor for Ward 13 suggests the city give applicants the option of declaring their gender or their ethnic background to allow council to ensure Calgary's diversity is actually reflected at city agencies.

'Not just male-female'

She notes that incorrect assumptions can be made about gender, based on the name on a resume.

"It's not just male-female. I mean there's a lot more diversity around gender, and you need those voices at the table," said Colley-Urquhart.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he, too, has grappled with the situation.

"I had to look some people up on LinkedIn who had obscure first names," said Nenshi.

A newcomer to city council, Ward 3 Coun. Jyoti Gondek, said she has always looked first at a person's qualifications before looking at their name.

"You can infer some things from the name but more often than not, we are able to do interviews, and I think it's important sometimes to speak a little bit further with people to find out what they're all about," said Gondek.

Number of applications has dropped

The number of citizen applications for the city's boards and commissions is down this year, something that also concerns Colley-Urquhart.

Colley-Urquhart said a city document indicates council has 289 public applications to review this week.  

That's well below the 446 applications it received in 2016. 

In Monday's council meeting, Colley-Urquhart asked administration how many of this year's applicants are female. 

An official said the city has no way of tracking that information.

Earlier this year, council passed a motion requiring city administrators to examine how to reach gender parity and greater diversity in its agencies, boards and commissions.

A report on that initiative is expected back at city council by mid-2018.