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Prepare for careers

Published December 20, 2012 1:01 am

Many Utah women ignore reality
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Utahns are doing quite well economically, compared to how slowly residents of other states are clawing their way out of the Great Recession. Or, more accurately, half the state's working population — the men — are doing well. Imagine how much better things could be if working women were sharing equally in the economic resurgence.

Utah women — who make up a bigger percentage of the workforce than in other states — are paid only 55 cents for every dollar earned by men. That's dead last — the greatest gender wage inequality in the nation, definitely a ranking Utah should be ashamed of.

Utah also has the nation's largest education gap between men and women who have earned a bachelor's degree or higher. The percentage of women holding higher degrees is 6 points below the percentage of men with the same education level. Idaho is next to Utah's worst-in-the-nation ranking with a gender gap of 2.4 points.

Across the nation, women outside Utah are on par or even ahead of their male counterparts in earning bachelor's degrees. So why are Utah women lagging so far behind?

Utah women too often grow up in a culture that embraces a fantastical image of family life in which women and children are financially supported by the man of the house. Girls are taught that raising children and taking care of a home will be their primary responsibilities, and so they have no need for education to prepare them for good jobs.

But the reality is much different. The Utah Department of Workforce Services reports that:

• Most Utah women who work are married.

• A higher percentage of Utah women work outside the home than the national average.

• Utah has a higher divorce rate than the national average.

• A young woman today can expect to spend more than 30 years in the labor force.

• Most women at one time or another will need to support themselves and/or their families

Even when it becomes apparent that the family needs two incomes, too many women settle for part-time or low-paid menial jobs and end up spending as much time away from their homes as their husbands but earning far less.

Even worse, undertrained women often end up as heads of households after death or divorce and find they are the only breadwinner. Almost a third of households headed by women in Utah have incomes below the poverty level.

Utah women should prepare for careers. In today's world, they can't depend on others.




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