Political Leadership

Iowa women have a long and rich history with political leadership. Active in the suffrage movement, Iowa boasted some of that era's strongest leaders, like Carrie Chapman Catt, Arabella Mansfield, and Emma J. Harvat. Throughout the years, women in Iowa have continued to pioneer in leadership at levels, both inside and outside the limelight.

In 2008, women make up 22.7% of Iowa's General Assembly. Three of the thirty-four women serving in the Legislature are women of color. Iowa and Mississippi are the only two states that have never elected a woman to Congress or as Governor. Two women now serve as mayors of major cities in Iowa (pop. 30,000 or more).

The Iowa Commission on the Status of Women supports equal representation of women in elected office at the federal, state, and local levels. We work with partners to support nonpartisan efforts to give women the tools and resources needed to make serious bids for elected office. One such partnership is 50-50 in 2020, a bipartisan initiative to achieve political equity in Iowa by the 100th anniversary of woman suffrage. Further, we are committed to helping cities and counties implement the new policy of gender balance on boards and commissions, as well as to assist women learn more about the appointment process.

For more information on women and politics in Iowa, please contact the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics at Iowa State University or consult the latest ICSW Status of Women Report.

For additional resources on running for office, visit Elect Women Magazine, a new women’s political blog/website dedicated to electing women to public office. It is the first independent, comprehensive magazine-style blog/website that offers women running for office a place to obtain resources, links to training, workshops, books and advice, statistics and even the ability to blog or e-mail questions.