Utah Ranks Last in Women’s Rights


By Mackenzie McDermott

In a country that already ranks only 49 out of 144 in the World Economic Forum’s gender equality report, Utah has been ranked the worst state in the nation for women’s rights by WalletHub. WalletHub’s rankings were based on workplace environment, political empowerment and education and health.

Utah’s total score was 25.51, not even half of top-ranked New York’s score — 68.66. In the individual categories, Utah was ranked 45 for workplace environment, 43 for political empowerment and 50 for education and health.

Utah also reportedly has the largest income gap of any state and the largest educational attainment gap among advanced degree holders. It has the fifth-largest executive positions gap and the third-largest work hours gap between men and women.

When economists from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the National University of Singapore analyzed multiple years of data from the General Social Survey, they found something unique about Utah — women in the state show more sexist beliefs toward themselves than the men who took the survey.

Questions measured agreement with statements including, “It is much better for everyone involved if the man is the achiever outside the home and [the woman] takes care of the home and family,” and “A working mother can establish just as warm and secure a relationship with her children as a mother who does not work.”

In a state where the median age for a woman’s first marriage is 24 years old, the lowest in the nation, many women find themselves focusing on motherhood.

“Experts have noted that some women in Utah fail to plan adequately for a workforce career since they assume motherhood will be their ‘prime career.’ With that assumption, it is reasonable to think that women, who may already see themselves in a weaker position to negotiate than men, may not assert themselves in recruiting and salary conversations if they do not consider their careers to be long-term,” read a 2017 Utah Valley University study on the gender wage gap in Utah.

In 2017, women made up 50 percent of the first-time freshman population at the University of Utah, 46 percent of the undergraduate population and 46 percent of the graduate population.

The women of the U do not need to go far to find a helping hand. The U’s Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is located at the Student Union Building in room 411.

The WRC, according to its website, “serves as the central resource for educational and support services for women. Honoring the complexities of women’s identities, the WRC facilitates choices and changes through programs, counseling, and training grounded in a commitment to advance social justice and equality.”

Since the 1970s, the center has provided scholarship information, counseling and community-building events. One of the WRC’s initiatives is Go Girlz, which targets economically disadvantaged female students from grades 6 to 12.

The WRC is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except Tuesdays when it operates from 10 a.m. to noon, to provide resources and answer questions. The center is also available by phone at 801-581-8030.

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