Group aims to make higher education more obtainable for Utah women

Apr 3, 2018, 1:48 PM | Updated: 10:21 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – There’s a taskforce commissioned by our state legislature that focuses on bettering the path for women in the workforce.

The “Women in the Economy Commission” is made up of women from all backgrounds including business leaders and legislators, many of whom are mothers themselves.

Tuesday at the Capitol, the commission released a report looking into the challenges women face heading into higher education.

The study done by UVU found there are more women taking on higher education in our state, but nationally Utah continues to rank as one of the lowest states for female enrollment in the nation.

UVU researchers made recommendations going forward which include finding ways to provide more support for women, like helping them navigate the challenges of child care and scheduling more flexible class times.

“What we want to do is encourage women to get those higher levels of education, so we need to figure out how to be more flexible at those higher levels,” said Kathy Bounous, commission member and mother of three who worked and raised her kids while completing her bachelor’s and law degrees. She currently works at the Department of Workforce Services as the Division Director of Appeals and Legal.

Amber Bird of Provo attended the report announcement. She fully supports the work the commission is doing. Not only is she the mother of a 1-year-old and she’s expecting her second child this summer, but she plans to start grad school in the fall. She aspires to be a professor, a profession she says will make her feel successful — something she wants to teach her kids.

“This isn’t just a women problem. This is a men and women (problem) and they both need to consider the fact that families are going to be a struggle and getting your education and continuing your education,” said Bird, who says it’s most important to find ways to solve problems that surfaced in the research.

The commission will meet again in a couple of months to see what to do next. We’re told this research helps lawmakers and the public better understand the gender gap in Utah and beyond, which helps influence our laws. You can read the report here.

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Group aims to make higher education more obtainable for Utah women