Officials Question Iowa's Gender Balance Law

Representatives listen to closing remarks in the Iowa House during the final day of the Iowa legislative session, Tuesday, March 30, 2010, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

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By Adam Carros

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - It's unclear whether a law requiring gender balance on boards and commissions is getting more women involved in local government, but some officials question the need for the law.

Iowa is the only state that requires gender balance of state and local boards and commissions. Legislators who backed the law in 2009 say it pushes officials to give women the encouragement they need to seek public office.

The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics at Iowa State University found 49 percent of all county boards and commissions are gender balanced. The group is studying results for city governments.

In the small northeast Iowa city of Calmar, Mayor Cory Meyer says it's hard enough to find volunteers to fill unpaid, time-consuming positions. He pays little attention to the law.

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