Iowa lacks women in local and national politics


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University of Iowa College of Law officials and students advocate an end to Iowa's dearth of women in state and federal politics.

Judges, professors, students, and political officials gathered Thursday at the Women in Iowa Law & Politics Convention, hosted at the UI law school by The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice.

Many noted that Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress or the governorship.

"We think of ourselves as a progressive state, but we are not progressive in that regard at all," said Iowa lawyer Roxanne Conlin, who ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and ran for Iowa governor in 1982, both unsuccessfully. "Lots of things changed in the period of 28 years [between campaigns], but one thing that has not changed is that we have no women."

According to the Center for American Women and Politics, as of 2012, women hold 90 of the 535 seats in the 112th U.S. Congress.

Having more women in Congress would add a much-needed diversity of voices and opinions, several attendees said at Thursday's event.

"Women are good at politics — they know how to organize and bring people together," said former Sen. Maggie Tinsman, R-Bettendorf, who now runs a consulting firm. "We need women who are leaders already in their communities, we need them in the Iowa Legislature, and in Congress, and in the Governor's Office as well."

Jacqueline Langland, an editor at The Journal of Gender, Race & Justice, agreed.

"[The Journal] would like the people of Iowa to be well-represented," she said. "When you have a lack of diversity in state politics, it means certain voices do not have a voice. By increasing diversity, we would hope that more voices are heard in our state government."

The lack of Iowa women in politics boils down to issues of equality, Tinsman said.

"Women are leaders who share power and they strive for cooperation over competition; we need more [women] to run," she said. "I'm not anti-man at all — I just want to be at the table with them."

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