Get to Know the 24% is our new series where we will feature the women who make up 24% of our nation’s state legislatures.
This week, we are proud to highlight Indiana native Robin Shackleford, who represents District 98 in the Indiana House of Representatives. Representative Shackleford serves on the Public Health, Financial Institutions, the Commerce, Small Business, & Economic Development, and she is the Ranking Minority Member for the Government Reduction Committee. She has also served as a Precinct Committee Chairwomen for over 10 years.
Representative Shackleford’s inspiration to run for office was sparked while in college at Indiana University Bloomington. Initially a business major, Shackleford was unsure that she wanted to focus mostly on profit, as she found was the emphasis in business. At the advice of a college counselor, she took a public affairs class and learned how the legislature worked and how policy could be developed to impact communities. Shackleford subsequently earned her Bachelor of Science in Public Affairs Management and her Master of Public Affairs from Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
Following this shift from Business to Public Affairs, Shackleford has worked in state and local governments, in addition to the private sector, in positions focused on governmental affairs and serving the community. She also worked as the Diversity Director in the office of Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson where she was responsible for raising and sustaining awareness for matters related to diversity. In this role, she also promoted different activities to help Indianapolis achieve greater diversity.
Additionally, Shackleford has held positions for the Indiana Health Care Association developing public policy, and she has gained experience with the Indiana legislature through positions at the Indiana Department of Commerce and, naturally, at the Indiana House of Representatives. Currently, Shackleford serves as a project manager for Engaging Solutions, LLC, a management consulting firm.
Representative Shackleford’s focus is economic and community development, highlighted by the nine bills she is working on for the current session. Some of the issues addressed are focused on increasing voter turnout, helping ex-offenders gain employment, and improving health education.
One bill, House Bill 1172 is intended at tackling gender pay disparity in Indiana. The bill’s three-pronged goal includes adding on to the state workforce innovation council, creating an equal pay certification for businesses that contract with the state government, and providing job training for high wage and high demand career paths. The equal pay certification is the largest part of the bill and ensures that businesses that contract with the Indiana government pay women equally. The last section of the bill is a grant program with an appropriation for a job training program to train for higher pay and higher demand positions.
According to the Economic Status of Women in Indiana report, released by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), Women in Indiana rank relatively low in different economic indicators. In the composite employment and earnings area, which measures women’s median annual earnings, the ratio of women’s to men’s earnings, labor force participation, and the percent in managerial/professional occupations, Indiana earned a D+.
The IWPR report also noted a 70.5% earnings ratio between women and white men. Additionally, Indiana had 33% of women workers hold upper level managerial and professional occupations, according to 2005 data.
In order to solve the labor problems faced by women in Indiana, Shackleford looked for legislative examples implemented in other states that could be reproduced in Indiana. The Minnesota Women’s Economic Act 2536, which was passed last year, provided the legislative model for House Bill 1172. Shackleford states that if House Bill 1172 is not passed this session, she intends to continue her efforts to solve gender pay disparity, increase women’s access to higher paying jobs, and the better the overall economic status of women in Indiana.
Shackleford’s motivation to become a legislator came from her desire to “serve the people that could not represent themselves or did not have the time to represent themselves.” In Shackleford’s words she is “trying to make sure that my community and communities around Indiana are getting empowered and educated either through economic education or health wise.”
Representative Shackleford encourages all women to be advocates for change and to run for office. On a general note, she also encourages women to invest in themselves through training, volunteering for campaigns (an experience which she explained is vital to running for office), gaining mentors, or being a mentor.
Women In Government is proud to feature Representative Shackleford and highlight some of her accomplishments, goals, and advice. We are eager to see what else she accomplishes while in office and elsewhere. Thank you for all that you do, Representative Shackleford!
To learn more Representative Shackleford and her nine community-focused legislative initiatives, visit her official legislative website HERE.
Written by: Morgan Stewart, Policy Fellow
“The Economic Status of Women in Indiana: Highlights Differences by Race & Ethnicity,” Institute for Women’s Policy Research (2007).
Indiana House Democratic Caucus, Indiana State Representative: Robin Shackleford