The Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life was founded in 1996 on the campus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis to assist women in developing the interest and skills necessary to succeed as full participants within government serving in elected and appointed office, and as employed policy makers.
In 1998, the Missouri Legislature and the University of Missouri Board of Curators approved naming the institute in honor of State Represenatative Sue Shear. Completing 26 years in the Missouri House of Representatives, Shear holds the record for legislative service for women in elected office in Missouri. This official naming makes the Sue Shear Institute the first university public policy center nationwide to be named after a woman office holder.
Although women are a majority of the population, the voters, and current college graduates, they are minority participants at every level of public policy leadership. The institute's goal is to help women break down both the external and internal barriers to embracing the rights and responsibilities of a representative democracy. To accomplish this end, the work of the institute is focused around several key objectives:
-Tracking the participation of women at various levels of government
-Increasing the presence of women appointees on boards and commissions
-Training college women leaders
-Increasing the number of women employed in policy making positions in government
-Encouraging women to seek public office