Gender Balance Project

Valerie and Morgan_cropped

Valerie Hennings (left) and Morgan Todd

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, in partnership with the Friends of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women (ICSW), is examining the membership of appointed county and municipal boards and commissions in Iowa.

Since 1987, gender balance has been required by law on Iowa’s state-level boards and commissions. In 2009, the Iowa Legislature extended this requirement to counties and cities effective Jan. 1, 2012. This research partnership– titled the Gender Balance Project – aims to understand the extent to which gender balance has been achieved on county and city boards in each of Iowa’s 99 counties.

Data from 99 counties has been collected since summer 2012. This data, which includes key details about seven appointed boards and commissions, shows that:

  • Four counties have achieved gender balance on the seven boards and commissions examined.
  • Women hold 28.77% of county boards and commission seats.
  • 49.53% of all reported county boards and commissions are gender balanced.
  • Women hold 18.52% of all chair positions.

The Gender Balance Project also encompasses municipal boards and commissions in Iowa’s 200 most populous cities and 99 county seats. This data includes key details about nine appointed boards and commissions. Of the 203 cities that have reported their board composition:

  • Seventeen cities have achieved gender balance on the nine boards and commissions examined.
  • Women hold 37.13% of city boards and commissions seats.
  • 49.91% of all city boards and commissions reported are gender balanced.
  • Women hold 27.86% of all chair positions.

Morgan Todd, a senior in political science, is continuing to collect data under the direction of Valerie Hennings, the Catt Center’s scholar-in-residence. The results of the Gender Balance Project for county boards can be found here, and the data summary for municipal boards can be found here on the Catt Center’s website. You can also read a news release about these findings here.Friends ICSW logo

You can access a listing of states with gender balance legislation here.

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