Women in Utah

The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not of Iron County Today

If two new national surveys are correct, Utahns might consider establishing a statue to Harvey Weinstein.  What makes the survey results more interesting is that women are more often willing to accept second-class status.

One survey concluded that Utah is the second worst state for sexism, based partially on answers to statements like, “Women should take care of running their home and leave the running of the country up to men” and “Would you vote for a female for President?”

I have to pinch myself; we do live in the 21st century, don’t we?  Those Utahns who said that women should bake muffins and change diapers while testosterone-addled males make the decisions belong in the same generation of humans who discovered fire and chased away giant lizards.  As for that women do not have the moxie for heading the government, I agree with a bumper sticker that read, “Please, give us any responsible adult in 2020.”

Then there’s the recent income survey that found that Utah women rank last among the 50 states in earnings compared to men.  I can understand why so many Utah women earn less than their husbands or partners. During their 20s and early 30s, many women leave the workplace to raise children – and when they return, they lack seniority.  But that doesn’t account for the most alarming finding: Utah is one of the few states in the nation where the median wage for women actually declined in the last three years.

Blame much of it on a patriarchal society.  Point to lower-paying careers attracting more women than men. However, that doesn’t explain wages that actually decreased!

But here is the rub: When it came to answering questions about the role of women in society, Utah men were slightly more progressive in their views than the women.  In other words, too many women are anxious to pass the baton to the men without even trying to run around the track.

So we have Utah ranked last when it comes to a gap in educational attainment.  And last among the states in the female share of science and technology jobs. And fourth-worst for the share of women holding executive positions.  And the bottom 10 for voter registration and participation.

In the Sandra Dallas novel, “Tallgrass,” the author wrote of a Colorado girl whose math teacher “wouldn’t call on my because he said it was a waste of time to teach math to girls.”  Sure, that was fictional but that philosophy still permeates much of Utah culture, too often because women embrace it themselves.

I’m reminded of a friend’s college-educated daughter who was offered an entry-level professional job paying $72,000. She turned it down since she said she didn’t want to travel outside of Utah and she didn’t really expect to be working long anyway since she had a boyfriend.  And I recall a co-worker whose daughter received an all-expense-paid scholarship, but confided, “She’ll only go to school for one year, then her missionary will return. I mean, she doesn’t really want to work.”

I have no trouble with her daughter’s decision. But if that’s the case, she should have let the scholarship go to another worthy applicant who wanted to put it to use.

There’s nothing wrong with a woman examining her options and deciding that she wants to be a homemaker.  But there is something peculiar about those women shrugging at their female classmates who believe they can and should compete in the economic marketplace.

And never again do I want to hear a survey exclaiming, “Hey, Utah, you weren’t the worse.  Arkansas is worse than you – and you almost beat out Alabama.”


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