Governor Kim Reynolds is open to repealing the requirement that state and local officials ensure there’s an equal balance of men and women appointed to boards and commissions.
A bill to repeal that gender balance requirement is eligible for debate in the Senate State Government Committee. Reynolds is not committing to sign the bill into law, but the concept is something she supports.
“First of all, I think you need to want to be a part of it, that you want to be on a board because you have a passion about it,” Reynolds said during an interview with Radio Iowa. “…I just feel like the best, most qualified and somebody who wants to do it is the person we should put in that position.”
General balance has been required on all boards and commissions in state government since 1987. In 2009, the legislature passed a law to require gender balance on city and county boards and commissions established by state law.
“Boy, sometimes things go full circle. I actually spoke against that bill when I was a senator in the Iowa state Senate,” Reynolds said.
It has become increasingly hard in rural Iowa to find people to serve on local boards and commissions, according to Reynolds and others who support the bill, and this added requirement makes even it tougher.
Iowa governors are responsible for appointing the members of all boards and commissions in state government. Reynolds said her approach to filling those positions isn’t likely to change if the gender balance requirement is lifted.
“Intuitively I do that anyway because I just think I’m always looking for balance. I think it’s important. I think you need that kind of dynamics to really drive a healthy discussion, get a balanced discussion, so I think that inherently would happen,” Reynolds said. “I just have never have felt good about that: ‘We need three women here to fill three slots.'”
Supporters of the gender diversity requirement say the law helps bring women who might be overlooked into leadership roles on boards and commissions. Iowa is among eight states that have a gender equity requirement for government boards. Last summer, a Los Angeles court ruled California’s gender diversity requirement was unconstitutional. The State of California is appealing that ruling.