Ten years ago, I worked at the Iowa Statehouse when legislation passed mandating gender parity on Iowa county, city and municipal boards and commissions. Required since 1987, codified in 2009, the Gender Balance Project went into effect January 2012.

Back then, the loudest opponents to this law argued there simply were not enough "qualified" women in rural Iowa to serve on boards and commissions. Not enough qualified women?! A very weak argument, indeed. These boards do not need doctorate-level candidates to do the work of the people, but rather candidates who know the issues and care about them.

A decade ago, I could not believe there was even discussion about mandating more women on boards – not because it wasn’t valid or valuable, but because I naively thought that since this requirement had been in place for so long, Iowa had to be close to parity on these boards.

Not even close.

Since the Gender Balance Project started, Iowa has made minimal gains when it comes to gender parity on boards and commissions. The Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women in Politics conducts research on the Gender Balance Project and its status every two years. The Center asks Iowa’s 99 counties and over 200 select Iowa cities to report their board and commission gender status. As of last year, when the center released its latest findings, the numbers were not encouraging: Four Iowa counties have achieved gender parity on their boards and commissions. That is down from the 2016 report of six counties achieving gender parity.

There are a variety of reasons why more Iowa women are not serving. Some women might not feel they are qualified to serve. Some women are waiting to be asked to serve. This column is your official ask: Please put your name forward to serve on a local municipal board or commission. Your qualification? You care about that area of interest and want to enact positive change. It is a great opportunity for you and your community, and if someone tells you, "You’re not qualified for that," DO NOT LISTEN TO THEM. You are more qualified than you realize. Now is the time to step up and make change happen. We need more female voices at the table because our perspective matters.

If serving on a board does not interest you, look elsewhere to make change happen. Taking an active role in your community on an issue you care about is not hard to do. Use your voice and start a face-to-face dialogue. Join a committee or group that meets regularly. Write a letter, make a phone call, start a discussion about the change you want to see in this world. You may find a new community, group or friend in the process. The ripple effect you have in this world will extend farther than you think.

Kirsten Andersonowner of Equitas Solutions, a full-time harassment-free workplace consultancy, is on a mission to end workplace harassment through education. She found herself an unlikely advocate for those facing harassment in the workplace after she took a stand against her former employer: the state of Iowa. On May 17, 2013, she was fired from her job as communications director for Iowa Senate Republicans after filing her fourth complaint about repeated harassment and retaliatory behavior by staff and lawmakers at the Iowa Statehouse. She sued the state of Iowa and Iowa Senate Republicans for wrongful termination, harassment and retaliation, and won. Anderson has a degree in broadcast journalism, and is a 2008 Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute graduate and a former member of the Leadership Institute’s Board of Governors. She was recently named Metro Woman of the Year and is currently the president of the local chapter of the Association of Women in Communications. In her free time enjoys sharing the hilarious random things her 9-year-old son says and attending any live music show with her husband. She can be reached at Kirsten@KirstenAnderson.org.