Proportion of women candidates in Iowa reaches all-time high, but room for improvement

CATEGORIES: July 2022, Voices

Women’s representation as general election candidates in Iowa’s federal and state elections has increased slightly in 2022, according to the Carrie Chapman Catt Center’s latest report. Marking an all-time high, women make up 35.94 percent of candidates in 2022, compared to 35.17 percent in 2020. This gradual upward trend follows the steep jump from 2016 to 2018 when the proportion of women candidates increased by nearly 8 percentage points.
Line graph showing the number of candidates in Iowa general elections by sex, from 2016-2022

“The good news is that the increase we saw in 2018 had held, and we haven’t seen a decrease to pre-2018 numbers,” said Kelly Winfrey, coordinator of research and outreach at the Catt Center.

For the first time in Iowa’s history, two women will face off as major-party candidates for governor. Kim Reynolds (R), Iowa’s first female governor, faces Deidre DeJear (D), a businesswoman and 2018 candidate for Iowa secretary of state.

Iowa’s U.S. Senate race is between two men, Chuck Grassley (R) and Mike Franken (D), but women make up 62.50 percent of Iowa’s candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. First-term Republican Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Ashley Hinson are being challenged by Democrats Christina Bohannan and Liz Mathis in the 1st and 2nd congressional districts, respectively. Cindy Axne (D) is running for a third term against state senator Zach Nunn (R).

“It’s great to see so many women running, but we still have a long way to go to reach gender parity,” Winfrey said.

In state legislative races, women make up 35.9 percent of candidates, but Democrats have reached near parity with 50 percent of their state senate candidates and 48.50 percent of their state house candidates being women. Republican women make up 23.76 percent of their party’s state legislative candidates.

This proportion mirrors women’s representation in state legislative primary races. Democratic women comprised 46.43 percent of their party’s state legislative candidates, and Republican women comprised 19.01 percent of their party’s candidates.

Overall, women fared better in primary races than men, with 86.67 percent of women and 72.02 percent of male primary candidates advancing to the general election. Most noteworthy is that in contested primary races, women won 58.62 percent of the races and men won 37.21 percent. A detailed report of primary election results is available from the Catt Center.

The general election is Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. For information on voting in Iowa, visit the secretary of state’s website.