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Emmet County boards not quite gender balanced

County has work to do to meet state requirements

July 25, 2018
Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer ( , Estherville News

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University finds 95 counties in Iowa are violating state code. According to Iowa Code (69.16A), gender balance is required on public boards and commissions. This means that any board, commission, committee, or council established by the state (or by a political subdivision of the state, i.e. a city or county) with an odd number of members, the members of one gender must equal one-half the membership plus one.

If the board has an even number of members, "not more than one- half of the membership shall be of one gender."

Emmet County has seven boards, and three are gender balanced. Out of 38 board seats, 23 are filled by men and 15 by women. This means 39 percent of the seats are filled by women.

It's progress, according to Susan Jacobs of the Center.

According to the survey, more than half of the state boards and commissions are gender balanced, and the numbers across all government entities are rising from when the survey was done two years ago.

Jacobs said women often don't have the time to devote toward public office.

"It takes a lot of time to go to committee meetings and board meetings and research the issues," Jacobs said. "Sometimes women with small children just can't devote that time."

The Catt Center is currently steering an effort to have 50 percent women in elected positions by the year 2020, coinciding with the ratification of the 19th amendment in 1920, which guaranteed women the right to vote.



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