I was excited to be appointed to the North Dakota task force on higher education, but something gave me pause. I noticed that among the 14 people the governor selected, only five (36 percent) had feminine names. I wondered what might be the source of the imbalance.
Fortunately, The Forum published the names of the applicants Dec. 2, 2017. I coded each person according to whether their name sounded masculine or feminine. When I was uncertain, I Googled to see if any web page used a gender pronoun for the person.
Although I may have made an error or two in my categorizations, I am fairly confident in my estimate that roughly 86 applicants (roughly 37 percent of the total 233 applicants) had feminine names.
The good news is that the task force applicant review process seems gender unbiased. The bad news is that women were underrepresented when it came to throwing their hats into the ring. If we want to see more women impacting policy in North Dakota, more of us will need to run for office and apply for appointments to boards, commissions and task forces.
I hope many women will accept my warm invitation to throw your hats into the ring!
Shockley is an institutional research analyst at Bismarck State College and a former postdoctoral fellow at the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center.