Gender Balance Project

Until the April 3, 2024, repeal of Iowa’s gender balance legislation, gender balance had been required by law on Iowa’s state-level boards and commissions since 1987 and for county and municipal boards and commissions since 2012. The Gender Balance Project aims to understand the extent to which gender balance was achieved on county and city boards in each of Iowa’s 99 counties while the legislation was in effect, and any effects of the 2024 repeal. Data were collected first in 2012-2013, and then again in 2015-2016, 2017-2018, 2019-2020, and 2021-2022, and 2023-2024.

Counties: When data from Iowa’s counties was collected in 2023-2024, 92 of 99 counties provided data or had data available on their website. This data, which includes key details about seven appointed boards and commissions, showed that:

  • Twelve counties had achieved gender balance on the seven boards and commissions examined: Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Dallas, Floyd, Madison, Mills, Mitchell, Muscatine, Scott, Warren, and Winneshiek.
  • Women held 37.08% of seats on county boards and commissions, a decrease from 38.16% in 2021-2022.
  • The percentage of gender balanced boards was 64.26%, an increase from 61.24% in 2021-2022.
  • Women held 34.09 of board chair positions, up from 32.28% in 2021-2022.

Municipalities: The Gender Balance Project also encompasses municipal boards and commissions in Iowa’s 200 most populous cities and 99 county seats, and 67 of 211 cities provided data for the report. Data is collected for nine municipal boards and commissions. The 2024 report showed that:

  • Twelve cities have achieved gender balance on all boards and commissions studied: Adel, Bettendorf, Bondurant, Dallas Center, Davenport, Fairfax, Fort Dodge, Independence, Iowa City, Le Mars, Walcott, and Windsor Heights.
  • Women make up 42.29%, nearly identical to the 42.96% reported in 2021-2022.
  • 61.64% of all reported city boards and commissions are gender balanced, a slight decrease from 62.26% in 2021-2022.
  • Women held 34.43% of all reported chair positions, an increase from 32.28% in 2021-2022.

The most recently published results of the Gender Balance Project for county boards and municipal boards can be found on the Catt Center’s website, as well as a brief on the history of gender balance in Iowa, a list of states with gender balance legislation (PDF), and research surrounding gender balance legislation.

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