May 10, 2024 - News

Lack of recognition and religious influence are among the top challenges for Utah women

A bar chart that displays the perceived challenges for Utah women and girls, based on a survey of 2,433 adults in fall 2023. The chart shows that 42% identified lack of recognition or feeling undervalued as a challenge, closely followed by gendered expectations at 41.7%. Religious influence and balancing career and home were noted by 27.3% and 25.4% respectively, while work-related inequities were a concern for 23.3%.
Data: Utah Women and Leadership Program; Note: The non-probability sampling was conducted online. The respondents were 85.3% female; Chart: Axios Visuals

Sexism, conforming to traditional gender roles and religious expectations are some of the top observed hurdles facing the state's women and girls, per a new report by USU's Utah Women and Leadership Project.

Why it matters: Utah has been consistently ranked as the worst state for women's equality for years fueled, in part, by its wide gender pay gap and abysmal female representation in executive and elected roles.

By the numbers: About 42% of respondents listed a lack of recognition and being undervalued as a challenge facing women and girls.

  • Other barriers include pressure for women to stay at home and raise children (41.7%); expectations for women and girls to adhere to traditional gender roles associated with religion (27.3%); balancing a career and domestic labor at home (25.4%) and workplace inequities (23.3%).

Between the lines: Advocates have long pushed for state lawmakers to pass legislation to increase funding for child care, as well as stronger measures to curb domestic violence.

What they're saying: "The culture really points to women being second to men and as less important and less educated," one respondent told researchers.

  • One male respondent told researchers he has female friends in Utah who feel undervalued professionally and academically.
  • Another respondent said, "gender bias is so strong here that it is really tough for women to advance their careers beyond mid-level management."

The bottom line: "Although the needle has moved slightly in a few areas, the current trajectory will require three to four more decades to make notable progress," researchers noted in the report.

How it works: Researchers surveyed 3,505 participants statewide for the report in fall 2023. Of those, 2,433 respondents shared their thoughts on what they believe is challenging women and girls in the state.

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