IWLC, the Iowa Womens Leadership Conference, has launched a comprehensive, longitudinal study of Iowa women in every field and various stages of their careers as part of its mission to advance women's leadership in Iowa.

 The Iowa City nonprofit has teamed up with Vernon Research Group of Cedar Rapids to perform the study.

 "Our goal is to capture the stories of women throughout Iowa and beyond who have provided leadership or aspire to leadership in the workplaces, schools, government, neighborhoods, charitable organization and more," said Monica Vernon, president of the research group. Women interested in taking the survey may do so by clicking here.

 The survey follows a series of statistical rankings and studies that seem to show that that Iowa women lag in leadership roles, including:

  • Iowa ranking last in the nation in terms of women-owned businesses
  • Iowa women comprising just 21.3 percent of Iowa legislators and the state never electing a female governor, U.S. senator or congresswoman
  • Only 16 percent of members of boards of directors for Iowa's largest 11 companies are women
  • A recent study by Iowa State University that found only two Iowa counties met the state's requirement of having gender balance on county appointed boards and commissions.

In response to the study by Iowa State University, the Friends of the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women has created a database of women willing to serve on such boards. Interested women can submit their names here.

Diane Ramsey, executive director of IWLC, said the group's survey will be repeated annually for five years. Its purpose is to identify ways to help women become effective leaders, she said, noting that the group expects to survey 5,000 to 10,000 women.

The survey results will be announced at the group's Oct. 16 conference at Prairie Meadows conference center in Altoona, she said.