DES MOINES (AP) — A record-tying 35 women will be seated in the Iowa Legislature when it convenes next week, reflecting a national trend in which women are having a greater say in lawmaking, political analysts say.
The Iowa Legislature will have 25 women elected to the Iowa House and 10 women elected to the Iowa Senate, matching a record set in the 2009 session.
And for the first time, two women will hold top legislative leadership roles simultaneously. Rep. Linda Upmeyer, R-Garner, will serve as House majority leader and Sen. Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque, will be Senate president.
Political experts said a record number of female candidates ran for office in Iowa this year. And 60 percent of those 55 female legislative candidates won election, with a post-redistricting election translating to more open seats.
“When women run, they do win,” said Valerie Hennings, a scholar-in-residence at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University.
Sen. Amanda Ragan, D-Mason City, said women are good political organizers, and there is a concerted effort to recruit them at the local level.
“I think they get a feeling that they can make a difference,” she said. “Once you see that you can make a difference, you think, well, maybe there's a larger universe that I can impact.”
Dianne Bystrom, director of the Catt Center, said women often work effectively across party lines.
“We know from research that women don't have the same political ambition as men,” she said. “They differ in why they seek office. They see it more in terms of fixing a problem rather than a career move.”
Iowa appears to be mirroring national trends. A record 98 women are serving in Congress, and more than 1,700 female legislators will serve across the country this year, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.