Iowans don’t like voting for women

Iowa and Mississippi are the worst states for women in politics, the Associated Press reports. Neither state has ever had a female governor or elected a woman to Congress.
As an Iowan, I’m so ashamed! Not only is the state bad when it comes to national politics, but state offices aren’t much friendlier to women. Since 1920, when women gained the right to vote, only 11 women have won statewide election in Iowa.
So why the dearth of women politicians in Iowa? A few possible generalizations/explanations offered in the article:
1. Iowa voters are old. Older voters don’t like voting for women.
2. Iowa voters are farmers. Farmers don’t like voting for women.
3. Iowans like re-electing the same politicians, over and over. Most of those politicians aren’t women.
Iowa’s farming history “is a deeply ingrained societal view of the culture and the view of women,” said Bonnie Campbell, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 1994. When she tracked her polling as that election played out, Campbell found that Iowans just couldn’t see her or another woman as their state’s leader.
Something still doesn’t add up. As Campbell (who, by the way, was the first director of the Dept. of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women) noted, Florida has an older population yet little hesitation sending women to Congress. Nebraska and Kansas are rural, too, but have had female governors.
“There have been women elected in far more conservative states than Iowa,” Campbell said. “It is a bit of a perplexing question.”

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  • PurrpleGrrl

    Huh, that’s weird.
    In Canada (where I live–yay!) the prairie provinces (Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba) were the first to give women the vote and elect women to Parliament. Conventional wisdom goes that because farm women did so much demanding and physical labour–including clearing the and building log houses–that they just couldn’t be seen as weak and ineffectual in the same way.
    Today, Alberta is very conservative (it’s like our own little slice of Texas, actually) but Manitoba and Sask. have had NDP (dem. socialists) governments for years now–with lots of women elected at the federal level too.

  • kactus

    I’m a native Iowan too, and it is dismaying to me to see these figures. Especially since the entire time I was growing up Iowans were taught to be especially proud of our educational system, which led to us being considered more liberal than most. Hmm.
    Where are you at in Iowa, Ann? I was born & raised in Sioux City.