AMES — A record number of women are running for the Iowa legislature this year.
Karen Kedrowski, director of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University, says the “sheer number of women” on Iowa’s 2022 General Election ballot is “remarkable.”
“Two as the party nominees for governor at the top of the ticket,” she says, “and then five out of the eight people who are running for U.S. congress are women.”
The so-called “glass ceiling” in Iowa politics was broken when Joni Ernst won Iowa’s U.S. Senate in 2014. In the last 100 years, only half of the states have elected a woman as governor. Today, only nine states have female governors.
“Iowa has really come a long way in a fairly short amount of time in terms of seeing women pursuing and being elected to the highest offices in the state,” Kedrowski says. “When we look at county level offices, we see quite a large number of women who are serving in public life in Iowa.”
Forty percent of the candidates for the Iowa House and Senate are women — a record. For the past two years, about 30% of state lawmakers have been women. Kedrowski says having women serving at all levels of elected leadership has changed campaigns.
“What that really means is that it kind of takes gender off the table,” Kedrowski says. “…Instead of talking about whether a woman can do a job or having any sort of veiled sex discrimination messages, what we really see are candidates that are focusing on the issues.”
Women are more likely to vote than men, according to Kedrowski, who says women have been the majority of voters since the 1970s.
The first woman to serve in the Iowa legislature was elected in 1928 — two years after women were allowed to serve in the legislature.