Utah women last, again

Steve Griffin / The Salt Lake Tribune Thousands of people attend the Women's March on the Capitol which began at City Creek Park, and proceeded up State Street to the State Capitol. Participants filled the Rotunda for a rally against bills and stands they say hurt women. in Salt Lake City Monday January 23, 2017.

Utah women have once again ranked last in a national survey measuring gender equality. Such rankings are probably why Utah has not been the “best managed state” in quite awhile. Being the worst state in the nation for working women is hardly conducive to good management.  

The WalletHub study looked at gender representation in leadership roles, salary inequity and unemployment rates. In the “Workplace Environment” ratings, Utah came in at number 43. In the “Political Empowerment” ranking, Utah came in number 40. In the “Education and Health” ranking, Utah came in dead last. And the only reason Utah didn’t rank lower in political representation is likely thanks to the Utah Democrats, who don’t have the aversion to electing women that Utah Republicans do.

We already knew women are underrepresented on city councils and executive positions. We knew that income disparity between men and women from Utah’s colleges was worst in the nation. We also knew women are underrepresented on Utah boards and commissions. Interestingly, Utah women spend approximately 5.55 hours on unpaid care work per day, compared to men who spend 3.22 hours per day. If you don’t think that’s a big deal then try leaving work every day at 2:30 and drive school carpools for the next two hours.

Utah’s ranking as last in education and health categories is also nothing new. The education category measured the disparity between men and women who hold bachelor’s degrees and advanced degrees and disparity between math scores. The health section rated the disparity between men and women who could not afford a visit to a doctor due to costs.

While it’s no surprise that Utah’s unique culture contributes to gender disparity in the workplace, the fact is that disparities exist, and that’s discrimination. Sixty percent of Utah’s women work, and comprise 44 percent of Utah’s workforce. We should be ensuring that their working environments are fair.

What will it take for Utah’s leaders to get serious about including women more often in political decisions, encouraging women in business leadership and helping women finish college? For instance, Utah ranks dead last in the number of women who attain advanced degrees. What about offering a tax credit for employers who offer paid family leave? Or state leaders could provide grants or tax credits for women in advanced programs. Utah often uses tax credits to incentivize businesses to move into the state because we value jobs and industry.

Let’s value our women.