LOGAN, Utah (ABC4) – The gender wage gap in Utah typically ranks among the highest in the nation. A new report from the Utah Women & Leadership Project of Utah State University shows not much is changing.
“Unfortunately, with our pay gap, not much has changed,” UWLP Director Susan Madsen told ABC4.
Madsen is one of four authors to write a report called ‘Utah Gender Wage Gap: A 2021 Update.’ While the report is the product of four authors, it really is the outcome of hundreds of people. The authors compiled research data from 60 sources and had more than half a dozen other organizations review the completed report.
This new report comes about four years after the last one from WWLP as a follow-up. “We want to make sure that when we get this out that it really is the latest data from different perspectives, employers, and the state and people who know how to do census data,” explained Madsen.
The report shows women in Utah make about 30 percent less than men. Nationally, women make around 18 percent less.
Madsen told ABC4 that Utah almost always ranks last for gender wage pay. She stressed how well the state’s economy is currently doing and noted that to make it even greater that is a title Utahns need to work on to change. She said doing so, may help attract tourists, businesses, and other organizations that will bring more revenue into the state.
According to Madsen, there are a few major factors that play into this wage gap in Utah. One of those factors is the social structure. “We actually have more of a traditional society,” she explained. “We have more distinct roles between men and women and some of those things really do create wider gaps.”
The research cited in the report shows some of these roles mean Utah women who do go into the workforce are less likely to get graduate degrees which help secure higher-paying jobs, are less likely to pursue higher-wage careers in general for jobs that fall into the social norm for women in Utah, and are less likely to negotiate a salary. “When we do then there’s pushback from men and women,” added Madsen. “Like, ‘Why are they asking for more? That’s kind of selfish.’ Wo, it’s interesting. It’s not an easy topic.”
Madsen told ABC4 to change close the wage gap in Utah, public perception, business practices, and state policy will have to change. She stated, “We need to change not just for women, but for children, and for families and for our society.”
Madsen explained that the research shows the pay gap only gets worse for women of color and single mothers. Both of these demographics are growing in the state. “If you’re a single mother in the state of Utah, 40 percent of you will live in poverty. 40 percent,” she emphasized. That, she said, sets up the next generation for failure.
Madsen told ABC4 the Utah Women & Leadership Project has used the compiled data to write legislative recommendations to help close the gender wage gap.