For Missouri Women, Professional Licenses Can Be A Barrier To Entry

Nov 15, 2016

Are Missouri’s myriad occupational licensing requirements making it harder for women to enter the workforce?

A new study from the Women’s Foundation out Tuesdays suggests that while some licensing requirements protect the health and safety of Missourians, others limit women’s entry and re-entry into the workforce.

“Are these really, really necessary?” says Women’s Foundation President and CEO Wendy Doyle. “Or are they just in place because they’ve always been in place?”

There are 55 professions regulated by 40 boards and commissions in Missouri.

Strict licensure requirements can make it hard for a woman to return to work after having a baby or taking time off to care for a sick relative.

“Sometimes in her licensed profession, there are continuing education requirements and additional licensing fees that are required for her to step back in once she has raised her family or wants to go back to work,” Doyle says.

Doyle says what might make sense for a nurse makes less sense for say, an interior designer.

“Let’s do a cost-benefit analysis and really evaluate whether we really need to put these requirements into place,” Doyle says.

Adding to her frustration is the fact that so many seats on Missouri boards and commission are currently vacant. There are even more board and commission members serving expired terms.

“Are they really providing the governance and oversight that is required?” Doyle says.

As for policy solutions, Doyle would like to see a legislative review of boards and commissions.

The ones that are necessary, she says, would benefit from having a few more women members.

Elle Moxley is a reporter for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.