Study finds top ways Utah can improve ranking as ‘worst state for women’s equality’

Dec 2, 2021, 6:46 PM | Updated: 11:16 pm

Salt Lake City – A new report from the Utah Women and Leadership Project looked at the 17 indicators WalletHub used to give Utah a dead-last ranking four years in a row in its list of the “Best and Worst States for Women’s Equality.”

The report then pinpoints exact ways Utah can improve its ranking.

“We don’t want to be known as the worst state for women’s equality,” said Utah State University professor Dr. Susan Madsen, who co-authored the report. “I mean that’s not something that we really want. We want to change that.”

Madsen is also the founding director of USU’s Women and Leadership Project. She presented the findings of the new white paper Thursday to community and business leaders gathered at Zions Bank—which commissioned the report.

“Rankings are important in some areas and that is because people look at those and decide, ‘Well, maybe I don’t want to move to Utah or I don’t want to stay in Utah because of that,’” Madsen said in an interview with KSL-TV.

In the latest WalletHub ranking, Utah received 29.85 points out of a possible 100. One of the top recommendations to boost that score is for Utah to elect a woman to the U.S. Senate.

“That would give us five points and that’s important,” Madsen. “It’s not just getting the points but when you have women in political power things change in the state. They change in the nation when you have more women in political power.”

Madsen said the goal isn’t just to improve Utah’s ranking, but also address critical disparities in Utah.

“I’m just hoping that all women, girls and women, know that there are a lot of options for them and then that we, as a public, respect those choices,” she said.

Here are the report’s top 10 recommendations for Utah decision makers and the possible associated point values in the WalletHub ranking:

1. Elect a woman for one of the two seats in the U.S. Senate. (+ 5.00)

2. Elect women for two of four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (+ 5.00)

3. Reduce the disparity related to Utah women’s perceptions of the affordability of doctor’s visits by 50%. (+ 2.93)

4. Shrink the disparity in math scores by one point. (+ 2.67)

5. Elect one additional woman to a statewide executive office. (+ 2.00)

6. Add 780 women to executive positions within the state. (+ 1.80)

7. Elect 7 additional women to the Utah House and Senate. (+ 0.88)

8. Add 1,000 additional women-owned business in Utah. (+ 0.50)

9. Narrow the gender pay gap. (+ 0.10-12.63)

10. Increase the percentage of Utah women completing graduate degree programs. (+ 0.10-13.33)

In the report, the researchers write: “It is also important to recognize that WalletHub’s ranking and weighting system may not include other potential equality metrics that could shed a more positive light on Utah women’s contributions in various domains, including the home and community.”

The report goes on to read that even though WalletHub puts Utah last in its list for women’s equality “does not mean that Utah is the worst state for women more generally.”

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Study finds top ways Utah can improve ranking as ‘worst state for women’s equality’