SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – Gender disparity and the well-being of women is a huge concern in the state of Utah. A first of its kind conference on the subject recently took place here in Salt Lake City, which brought many women together to help address the issue.
Annie Studer with YWCA Utah and Samantha Ball with the Kem C. Gardner Policy institute stop by Inside Utah Politics to discuss the conference and what they say needs to be done to reverse this disparity moving forward.
“We wanted to bring people together from all over the state, from legislators to advocates, to the general public, to work with our Director of Public Policy who is the only full-time person in the state of Utah advocating for women and girls policy. We wanted to bring these women together because at the YWCA we believe that when women are thriving, the whole state of Utah thrives,” said Studer.
A large part of that convention was the deliberative engagement model which helped the women to become more open at the conference.
“There were actually a number of people at the conference who spent the day before learning how to be facilitators for this type of approach. The day of the conference we then just went over what the expectations were for a deliberative model. We talked about ground rules of respectfulness and hearing all sides. It’s an approach that’s really important because we have got to such a polarized place in our society,” said Ball.
One of the biggest concerns for Utah women is wage equality.
“Nationally wages are climbing for women included. A recent report showed that wages for Utah women are actually falling slightly. That’s an alarming signifier of something greater.” Studer said.
Studer says there are some areas, however, that are seeing a change for the better.
“Utah women’s business ownership is actually on the rise,” said Studer. ” We are the industrial state, we are the Beehive State. Women are involved in this just as much as men and they’re hard workers and they are taking initiative.”
She also says more women are now receiving their bachelor’s degrees.
Despite this progress, both Studer and Ball say there’s still a long way to go.