Utah's wide gender gap shows in politics, wages
Utah's female representation in Congress, the Legislature and the executive branch lags behind the rest of the nation, according to new research released Wednesday.
By the numbers: The report by Utah State University's Utah Women & Leadership Project found the Beehive State ranks 40th for the number of women serving in the state Legislature.
- Women hold 26% of Utah's legislative seats, compared to the national average of 32.7%, per the report.
- Only one woman, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, serves in the state's five-member executive branch.
- Researchers also noted that all of Utah's six congressional seats are held by men.
The big picture: As a record number of American women run for office or get elected, Susan Madsen, founding director of UWLP, told Axios that Utah has a long way to go in terms of gender representation.
- Women in Utah also face a wider wage gap than the rest of the country, per the Utah Department of Workforce Services. Women working full time in the state earn 72% of what their male counterparts earn — 9% lower than the national average.
What they're saying: "Men just don't represent all of Utah," Madsen said. "We need more equal numbers of women there to really represent Utah. The decision-making is better when you have men and women in more equal numbers."
- She said girls and women have been socialized to believe serving in public office "is not their place," particularly in cultures where conservatism and religion dominate.
- Madsen added that women in politics face different pressures than men, such as sexism and questions around balancing their careers and motherhood.
Yes, but: Madsen said the number of Utah women elected on the municipal level is steadily increasing.
- Since 2022, nearly a quarter of Utah mayors are women, a 14.7% increase from 2017, according to the report.
- Most of Utah's female mayors serve in cities with a population of less than 10,000 people.
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