Don't blow it, Democrats: Stand up for Iowa women

Looking ahead to the 2010 elections, I’m concerned  that Iowa Democratic leaders will try to coast on our party’s voter registration advantage and well-organized early voting effort.

As I’ve written before, I believe Democrats need to have big successes to show for 12 years of control of the governor’s office and four years of a legislative majority. Democrats have posted net gains of seats in the Iowa House and Senate for four straight elections now. Voters are going to ask what have we done for them lately, especially if the country is still in recession 18 months from now.

Trouble is, the budget outlook continues to deteriorate. Deep cuts to education and other popular programs are expected when Governor Culver submits his revised draft 2010 budget to the legislature. Iowa’s budget problems are nowhere near as bad as those faced by some other states, but they’re bad enough to prevent legislators from throwing money toward every good idea.

For those reasons and more, it’s important for Democrats not to blow it when they have a chance to do something tangible (yet inexpensive) for a key voter bloc. You know how they say, “When women vote, Democrats win?” Now Democrats in the Iowa legislature have a chance to return the favor. I enclose part of an action alert the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women sent out on Wednesday:

We need your help today to contact your legislators on all three issues.

   * SF 137 Being the first state in the nation to extend the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to the state level

(The House and Senate have passed different versions and are working to reach consensus.)

   * HF243 Tripling the number of women making decisions that impact our communities by requiring gender balance on local boards and commissions

(Passed the House and now deferred on the Senate Floor for later action. Local government officials have been contacting legislators, urging them to oppose the bill “because it would be difficult” to achieve gender balance.  Please contact your Senators!)

   * Justice Systems Appropriations bill: Keeping Iowans safe by restoring a $4 million state appropriation to fund victim services

For more information on any of these issues, please visit our policy page. Also, you might want to listen to yesterday’s Talk at 12 on Iowa Public Radio, which featured discussion on the wage discrimination and gender balance bills and the issue of women running for office.

If your representatives are Democrats, please contact them about these issues. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is a no-brainer. Frankly, refusing to pass it would be a tremendous insult to all the women who have worked so hard for so many years to elect Iowa Democrats.

It’s false to imply that Iowa lacks enough talented women to serve on boards and commissions.

There aren’t many well-organized interest groups working the phones to demand appropriation for victim services, but cutting those funds would cause real suffering.

It’s time for our leaders to step up and show that when Democrats vote, women win.

  • let's dig a little deeper...

    HF243 – Cool, I agree. A balance of genders is good for everyone’s representation.

    — however I understand how it can be difficult to achieve gender balance. Because if a qualified man doesn’t run, but a some unqualified man does run (assuming an abundance of women on the board/commission)…then you have to elect him. Who wants some unqualified fool on the board simply because he has male genitalia? Or vice versa… Who is served by that?

    Also, I’m an engineer (and a male). I work with 1 woman. I make a good deal of money (in my opinion). So when I hear that women earn $0.76 to a man’s $1.00, I think it may have to do something with the jobs women pursue. My wife stays at home with our child (she has an engineering degree). We believe it is best for our child and I cherish her for sacrificing her career for our babies.

    So, applying a little freakonomics, is it that women are paid less, or that they don’t work in the same high-paying industries because they choose to sacrifice their careers in the noble pursuit of child-rearing?

    Money isn’t the only indicator of happiness or success. I would be willing to work 18 hours a day if I knew it meant my wife or children would be taken care of.

    • even when you adjust for the kind of jobs

      women do, women get paid less. I understand the point you are making, but women doing the same job in the same industry will on average still get paid less than men.

      • hmm

        Then we are on the same page.

        I remember when my wife was working and the politics of men “buddying” up with the other men. I had never really seen it before because I’m a man and didn’t ever notice.

        It seems these days that discrimination is more subtle. My wife said that all the male managers would hang out with her male peers and discuss things like fantasy football and going to ultimate fighting events with them. Subconsciously the male manager was building relationships with their male subordinates.

        My wife is smarter than me, and smarter than her male peers (she’s crazy smart!!), yet her male peers built got the more desirable projects and more recognition. It’s BS and I hope to see more women get a fair shake.

        However, I don’t know how government can effectively legislate that responsibility.

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