Against the backdrop of a presidential election in which gender issues have come to the fore, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Chris Koster was in Kansas City Wednesday to meet with women business leaders.
Koster says he’s proud of both the gender balance and pay equity in the attorney general’s office. He’d like to see equal pay protection extended to all Missouri women.
“We want to make sure that work environments are family friendly,” Koster says.
One way Koster would improve diversity at the state level is to appoint more women to Missouri boards and commissions.
“The most glaring example of a lack of diversity is the State Board of Education,” Koster says. “The State Board of Education is made up of eight individuals, and every member of the State Board of Education is a male.”
In addition to giving women a voice in state government, it would help solve the problem of expired terms. (Koster has criticized the current administration for allowing so many seats to go unfilled.)
But convincing more women to participate in the political process might be difficult. Only a quarter of Missouri lawmakers are women.
“Women don’t volunteer in a civic space,” says Kendall Seal with the Women’s Foundation. “They usually volunteer with their church, nonprofit or school.”
Seal thinks women have been turned off by recent scandals in Jefferson City involving prominent male politicians behaving inappropriately toward female interns.
And the “unfortunate rhetoric” of this year’s election? Seal says it isn’t helping.
Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.