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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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A Look at Gender Inequality in the U’s Business School

The Women in Business Club at the U’s David Eccles School of Business provides women an opportunity to feel welcomed in a male-dominated field.
Luke Larsen
Sydney Smith, the executive director of the Women in Business group at the University of Utah, poses for a portrait in the Spencer Fox Eccles Business Building at the University of Utah on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023. (Photo by Luke Larsen | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


In 2023, Utah topped multiple charts measuring the best states for business success. These measurements ranked Utah as first in economic outlook, first in startup business success and second in best states for employment, just to name a few. And yet, despite these encouraging rankings, Utah was also found to be one of the worst states for women’s equality in business settings.

While there is no reigning answer for why this is the case, Professor Susan Madsen of Utah State University said there are a few reasons for the gender gap, including less pay, fewer women in executive positions and a culture focused on the traditional family where the mother stays at home and thus has less economic opportunity.

This gender inequality is reflected at the University of Utah where women are underrepresented in business classes despite a ratio of 52% male and 48% female undergraduate students, according to the Women in Business Club at the U’s David Eccles School of Business.

“We have seen that our memberships feels like they need a space,” said Sydney Smith, executive director of WIB. “In classes, the students are predominantly men. This may feel intimidating for younger female students, often convincing them to switch majors.”

WIB is a club geared towards creating a community where people with a marginalized gender identity feel like they are welcomed and given space to grow in the business school. The club provides students with resources from events, connections with alumni and advice on where to look for investors.

“WIB is also just a safe place to talk about experiences and get support,” said Taylor Jones, the club’s marketing director.

Jones explained that one of the biggest problems for the underrepresentation of women in the U’s business school stems from female students feeling like they don’t belong. She said the U should hire more women professors so marginalized students can feel more welcome and comfortable in business classes.

“It would be nice to see a few more women professors,” she said. “Not even in business, specifically, but in every major where classes are predominantly men. For example, my major is strategic communications, and it’s pretty male-dominated. It would be nice to hear a woman’s voice doing sports broadcasting.”

Smith said other reasons for women being underrepresented in business may include stigmas and stereotypes.

“I think there is a stigma around it,” she said. “You hear finance and you think ‘finance bro.’ I don’t think that’s even specific to the U. I think there is a stigma and a stereotype around who is in the business school and that scares people away.”

Smith said that awareness is the key to overcoming gender gaps and underrepresentation at the U. She said professors should create a safe space where gender inequality can be talked about, so students can feel like they are being heard and understood.

“The teachers should actually talk about the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in their syllabus,” Smith said. “It’s in there, and yet they don’t talk about it at all. They’re not creating an environment where it feels like people should talk about EDI. By starting to do that, professors can create a safe environment in the classroom to start impacting those who need it.”

Smith believes that hiring more women professors and raising awareness about gender equality is the first step towards leveling gender representation at the U.

“The more women who join WIB and choose majors which are predominantly men, the easier it will be for other women to join too,” Smith said. “It’s a snowball effect.”

Both Jones and Smith said all students are encouraged to join WIB. Club information and events can be found on WIB’s Instagram and on the club canvas page.


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About the Contributors
Jamie Faux, News Writer
(she/her) Jamie Faux began as a news reporter at the Daily Utah Chronicle in the summer of 2023. She is a double major in English and finance at the University of Utah with the goal of becoming an author after graduation. Jamie grew up in Provo and enjoys outdoor sports, reading, and traveling.
Luke Larsen, Photographer
(he/him) Luke started at the Chronicle in the fall of 2023. He is currently studying anthropology. He has worked as a professional portrait photographer since 2021 in Waco, Texas, where he has lived for the past ten years. He is originally from Los Angeles, California and loves Dim Sum.

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