News from the Office on the Status of Women - September 2018

iowa department of human rights

September 2018

News from the
Office on the Status of Women

Congratulations to our 2018 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame Honorees

Thank you to everyone who helped celebrate our 2018 honorees on Saturday, August 18th:

2018 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame honorees
From left: Dr. Peggy Whitson, Dr. Dianne Bystrom, Ruth Harkin, Dr. Jean Jew, and Janice Edmunds-Wells

For pictures and information about the event, visit:

Nominations for the 2019 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame and Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice are open! Due April 1, 2019

2019 Iowa Women's Hall of Fame nominations

Iowa Women's Hall of Fame nomination

The Iowa Women's Hall of Fame inducts contemporary (living) or historical (deceased) women who have been born in Iowa, achieved prominence within the state, or been a resident of Iowa for an extended period and have:

  • Made significant and enduring contributions to their field of endeavor, professional or otherwise
  • Impacted the social, cultural, economic or political well-being of the community, state or nation
  • Elevated the status of women and positively impacted women and girls
  • Helped open new frontiers for women and for society in general 
  • Inspired others by their example

To nominate someone: Fill out the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame nomination form and e-mail it and all supporting materials to

Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice nomination

This medal was established in honor of Cristine Swanson Wilson, the first chair of the statutory Iowa Commission on the Status of Women (ICSW). As the ICSW's first statutory chair, Wilson fought for passage of anti-discriminatory laws in housing, credit, education, employment and insurance; recognition of homemakers' contributions in inheritance tax determination; a model, progressive rape statute; provision for state funding and licensing of childcare centers; creation of a process by which more women could be appointed to state boards and commissions; and the creation of the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame. She also helped to found the Iowa Women's Political Caucus and served as the first female chair of the Republican Party of Polk County's Platform committee.

This medal is awarded to Iowans whose life and work illustrate such service and dedication, especially in the field of social justice. 

To nominate someone: Fill out the Cristine Wilson Medal for Equality and Justice form and e-mail it and all supporting materials to

Remembering those we have lost

Betty Jean "BJ" Furgerson, March 10, 1927 - August 14, 2018

BJ Furgerson

The Office on the Status of Women and the Commission on the Status of Women extends our thoughts and sympathy to the family and friends of Betty Jean ("BJ") Furgerson, who passed away on August 14, 2018.

BJ was born March 10, 1927, in Waterloo, Iowa, the second child of Lee Burton Furgerson M.D., the first black physician in Waterloo, and Lily Nina Furgerson, who became the first black teacher in Waterloo's public schools. After graduating from East High School in Waterloo, she attended Talladega College and the University of Iowa before obtaining her bachelor's degree from Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa). She subsequently earned a master's of social work from the University of Kansas. 

Her professional career included work for the Girl Scouts, Head Start, and, for nearly two decades, directorship of the Waterloo Human Rights Commission. A tireless advocate for civil rights, diversity, education and the arts, her curiosity about the world, love of learning, sense of fairness and willingness to listen made her an exceptional leader. She was keenly attuned to the needs of children, often asking other adults, "Don't you remember what it is like to be a child?" 

Betty Jean served on the Broadcast Board of Iowa Public Television for an unprecedented 35 years (July 1980-April 2015), including 20 years (1986-2006) as president. She also served on the Board of Regents for six years, the Iowa Arts Council and the Lily Furgerson Child Development Center board. She was a member and president of the Waterloo Board of Education, a founding member of KBBG Afro-American Community Broadcasting in Waterloo, and an active participant in many other community groups. 

BJ was given numerous honors and awards, among them induction into the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 1990, receipt of the Leonard Katoski Volunteer Service Award from the City of Waterloo in 1998 and the Waterloo Courier's 8 Over 80 Legacy Award in 2010, induction into the Iowa African American Hall of Fame in 2013, and selection for the 2014 edition of "Ovation: A Tribute to Iowa Women and Girls." In 2006, she received the prestigious David J. Brugger Award. This national honor recognized her for demonstrating "exemplary leadership in grassroots advocacy on behalf of public television." 

Click here for BJ's full obituary.

Statewide/Community Announcements

Iowa State University's Women in Science & Engineering (WiSE) Program Hosting its
Taking the Road Less Traveled Conference

Taking the Road Less Traveled video

Taking the Road Less Traveled (TRLT) is a one-day conference on the Iowa State campus for middle school and high school girls to learn about STEM fields and how to infuse their passions within a career. 

Participants will attend interactive sessions to explore STEM opportunities, hear from professionals and WiSE student speakers, and eat lunch with undergraduate STEM students. 

Dates for the 2018-19 academic year are:

  • October 25, 2018 (8th grade)
  • November 8, 2018 (9th/10th grades)
  • April 4, 2019 (8th grade)
  • April 11, 2019 (9th/10th grades).

To register: click here.

The cost to attend TRLT is $15 per person (students and chaperones) and includes lunch. Students may bring extra money for a TRLT t-shirt ($15) or Iowa State souvenirs. 

Scholarships are available for students in need. E-mail Sarah DuBois at for more information. For more information, see the flyer.

Do you know a high school student interested in becoming a page in the Iowa legislature?

The Iowa Legislature is looking for high school students to learn more about the legislative process by applying to serve as a Legislative Page for the 2019 Legislative Session.

Legislative Pages provide invaluable assistance to representatives and staff by running errands, delivering messages, and distributing bills and amendments. Pages also assist legislative members at committee meetings and help the chairperson by handing out materials during the meetings. Pages will work with staff and legislators in the Iowa State Capitol building.

Applications are being accepted until Friday, October 5, 2018Guidelines for the program:

•    Student must be 16 years of age 
•    Applications are accepted for the Senate, House, or Legislative Services Agency
•    Uniforms are provided
•    Living arrangements are unsupervised and must be found on your own
•    Students are responsible for transportation to and from the State Capitol
•    This is a paid position and some excused absences are permitted
•    Students are expected to be able to handle any school responsibilities
•    Parental permission is required to participate in this program

For more details and how to apply go to  

Clark 150 Conference to take place in Des Moines on Friday, September 28th

Join Drake University in celebrating the 150th anniversary of the 1868 landmark case, Clark v. Board of Directors, in which the Iowa Supreme Court ruled 12 year old Susan Clark could not be denied admission to a public school based on her race. The decision declared “separate but equal” unconstitutional in Iowa 86 years before Brown v. Board of Education.

To commemorate this landmark case, Drake University is hosting the Clark 150 Conference on Friday, September 28, from 12:00 – 4:00 pm, in Cartwright Hall. Discussions will cover the historic civil rights decisions of the Iowa Supreme Court, the continuing relevance of Clark, the challenges and consequences of racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system, and quality education today.

To register, click here.

Iowa Department on Aging, AARP Iowa and the Older Iowans Legislature Seeking Input

The Iowa Department on Aging, AARP Iowa and the Older Iowans Legislature are seeking input from Iowans on the biggest challenges when it comes to aging in Iowa. The three organizations are working together to ask residents of all ages for their thoughts on what Iowa can do to improve the quality of life for its older population through a brief online survey posted on the Department on Aging’s website. 

To voice your input, visit:

The survey takes approximately five minutes to complete and is available online through Sept. 21, 2018.

In the News: Women and girls in Iowa, the nation & the world

Upcoming Events/Seminars/Conferences

    Note: If you have an event taking place for women in Iowa that you would like to see added, please send it to