Iowa women have been proving themselves in the workplace for decades. But they still face challenges, the Cedar Rapids Gazette reported. 

In a five-part look at Iowa's gender disparities, the Gazette examined the gaps faced by women in several areas, including pay, leadership and business ownership. The newspaper also posed the question: Why is Iowa so bad for working women, and how will we fix it? 

While the Gazette placed its focus on working women and companies in the Creative Corridor, here are some of the highlights from the newspaper's report:

  • Only 15 states have a larger pay gap than Iowa -- where median earnings of full-time, year-round female workers in 2015 were 77 percent of male earnings, according to an American Association of University Women review of U.S. census data. Iowa's agricultural heritage may be one reason for the state's larger-than-average gender pay gap.

  • Iowa's gender pay gap is worse than some of our Midwestern neighbors because Iowa has a larger share of rural communities with low median salaries for female-dominated professions.

  • Of the 25 largest employers in the Corridor or their parent companies, only three had female chief executive officers. Membership for the Iowa Business Council, which represents the state's largest employers, is almost entirely devoid of women.

  • Just as Iowa's agriculture industry may affect the gender pay gap, it may keep women away from startups. Farm operations are variable, depending on the weather, crop prices and other factors. If men are running more than 85 percent of Iowa's farms, their wives may be less likely to take on the risk of starting their own businesses.

Read the full report at