Susan R. Madsen: Where does Utah rank on 2022’s ‘Best & Worst States for Working Moms’?

It was a relief to see a survey in which Utah wasn’t ranked the worst for working women.

Susan R. Madsen

When it comes to rankings with women and Utah, I brace myself for the worst. Literally, we often rank worst when it comes to women and equality.

I published an extensive report in late 2021 on “Women’s Equality in Utah: Wy Utah Is Ranked as the Worst State, and What Can Be Done.” So I was delighted to check out WalletHub’s ranking for “Best & Worst States for Working Mom’s” and find us right in the middle of the pack at 24 of 51 states and Washington, D.C. Of 100 points possible, Massachusetts ranks at the top with 62.99, Louisiana is the worst at 27.38, and Utah came in at 45.77 for our 24th ranking.

Basically, WalletHub grouped their findings into three main categories (childcare, professional development and work-life balance) with 17 key indicators that were each weighted differently. I was able to get more in-depth data from WalletHub than was published in their recent report.

Let me share what I found.


Utah ranks 24th for the “Child Care” category, which is worth 40 of the 100 points. I have not included the actual points for each, but instead their rankings (1=Best State; 51=Worst State).

  • Day-Care Quality: 15

  • Child-Care Costs: 16

  • Pediatricians per Capita: 49

  • School-System Quality: 16

  • Share of Nationally Accredited Child Care Centers: 21

  • Number of Childcare Workers per Total Number of Children: 39

Although we rank in the middle on this issue, childcare is a major challenge in every state and continues to be a struggle here in Utah (see “The Complex Childcare Landscape: Public Policy Solutions for Utah”). And while our childcare may rank as affordable, it still prices out many families. It is nice to see that our day-cares and school systems rank in the top third.

Professional Opportunities

Utah ranks 47th in “Professional Opportunities” (30 points). This category is the sum of the following eight key indicators, which vary widely. We have a lot of work to do on many of these.

  • Gender Pay Gap: 51

  • Ratio of Female Executives to Male Executives: 51

  • Median Women’s Salary: 42

  • Share of Working Women Living with Economic Security: 30

  • Share of Families in Poverty: 7

  • Female Unemployment Rate: 1

  • Gender-Representation Gap in Different Economic Sectors: 51

  • WalletHub “Best States for Working from Home” Ranking: 3

This section is filled with extremes, from number one in female unemployment to dead last in gender pay gap. Typically, Wyoming is always worse than we are, but looks like with the data they utilized, that Utah has the largest gap in pay between men and women. I am not surprised by the other rankings either as we have studied some of these indicators in other ways for years. We are doing well in some, but still lots of work to be done on the gender front.

Work-Life Balance

And finally, Utah ranks 12th on the “Work-Life Balance” category (30 points), which includes the following three key indicators:

  • Parental-Leave Policy Score: 43

  • Average Length of a Woman’s Work Week (in Hours): 1

  • Women’s Average Commute Time (in Minutes): 10

The reason we are first with the average length of a woman’ work week is that more women in Utah work part-time compared with women nationally. Of course, women have more children in Utah and do more unpaid care work as well. But smaller commutes and shorter work weeks are benefits worth noting and do promote a better balance between home and work.

Overall, this is just a quick snapshot of some indicators that help us better understand the status of women in Utah — and it is a relief not to be last in terms of the “Best & Worst States for Working Moms.” I am grateful for the progress we have made and look forward to rising up the ranks.

Susan R. Madsen

Susan R. Madsen, Ed.D., is the Inaugural Karen Haight Huntsman Endowed Professor of Leadership and director of the Utah Women & Leadership Project, Jon M. Huntsman School of Business, Utah State University