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Iowa Department of Human Rights

Gender Balance Project

A 2009 law that localized the scope of gender equity in Iowa went into effect on January 1, 2012. It requires “all political subdivisions of the state” to be gender balanced in their appointments to municipal commissions, committees, boards and councils. As Iowa communities work to include qualified women in these decision-making and leadership positions, the Office on the Status of Women is connecting local governments with women interested in appointments.

Although women make up more than half of Iowa’s population and outnumber men in 90 of Iowa’s 99 counties, historically they’ve been underrepresented on local boards and commissions, especially those that make economic decisions for communities. Likewise, men are underrepresented on other types of councils, such as library boards. Some municipalities have had no formal application process. Some report difficulty finding local women willing to serve—even though women in Iowa volunteer at significantly higher rates than men.

The Office on the Status of Women and others are identifying women whose capabilities match local requirements for service and assisting local governments in how to fill available seats with community leaders. We are in the process of developing an Iowa Talent Bank, which will pair local governments with local leaders willing to serve. For more information about the Talent Bank, please contact us at