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Eye On Boise

New study finds big gender imbalance on Idaho boards, commissions

A new BSU study of state, county and city board appointments shows that only about a third of the appointees are women, while two-thirds are men. The study, which examined nearly 5,000 appointments in Idaho, was presented at last week’s Andrus Center for Public Policy Women and Leadership Conference.

“The pattern is consistent at the state, county and city levels,” the study found. “At the state level, 30.8 percent of appointees were women, compared to 69.2 percent for men.” At the county level, 34.4 percent of appointees were women, while 65.5 percent were men. At Idaho cities, 38.3 percent of appointments went to women, while men received 61.7 percent.

Further, the study found “evidence of gender sorting on board appointments.” That means that women were disproportionately appointed to boards with functions traditionally classified as “feminine,” including those related to children and family, education, health, arts and culture. Women received 51.1 percent of appointments to state boards with functions classified as feminine, but only 15.8 percent of appointments to boards with functions classified as masculine, including commerce, finance, economy, environment, energy, natural resources, science and technology.

BSU professors Jaclyn Kettler and Justin Vaughn conducted the research. They created a protocol for classification of the gendered nature of each drawn from existing scholarly studies of gender and bureaucracy. Boards were classified as masculine, feminine or neutral, with issues including housing, planning and regulation categorized as neutral. The two professors have published an article here in BSU’s Blue Review on their research and findings.

Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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