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Eye On Boise

Study of gender imbalance on state boards prompts proposed legislation

Here’s a link to my full story at on new research by two Boise State University professors that has identified major gender imbalance in the state’s appointed boards and commissions, showing not only that 70 percent of appointees are men, but that women are disproportionately appointed to boards with functions traditionally classified as “feminine,” including those related to children and families.

The study, which was presented at the Women and Leadership Conference held last week by BSU’s Andrus Center for Public Policy, identified “evidence of gender sorting on board appointments.”

Political science professor Jaclyn Kettler, who conducted the research with fellow BSU political scientist Justin Vaughn, said, “It’s possible that it’s not necessarily a bias that they’re consciously doing. When they’re appointing someone to, say, a transportation commission, they just tend to think of certain people.”

Eight states, including Montana and Utah, have laws requiring or encouraging gender balance in state board and commission appointments. Sen. Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, said she’s working on a bill to propose in the Idaho Legislature. It won’t be a mandate or quota, she said. But she said the current makeup of boards is “not reflective of what the demographics are in Idaho. We have some amazing, phenomenal women. We have women that are capable and competent and have much to offer in almost any endeavor you can imagine.”

According to the U.S. Census, 49.9 percent of Idahoans are female.

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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