Report offers insight into the well-being of Utah women

Posted at 9:54 PM, May 01, 2014

SALT LAKE CITY -- How do women compare to men in the state of Utah?

A new study shows some significant downfalls when it comes to wages, political participation and even education.

The report, which focuses on Utah women's well-being, paints a picture of females who don't graduate college as often as men and make a lot less money. The point of this study is to propel progress, and Thursday a group of women got together to discuss how they can empower change.

"Women who work full-time year round, their medium annual earnings are 69 percent what men are," said Anne Burkholder, who is the Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Utah.

The local chapter of YWCA partnered with the Institute of Women's Policy research in Washington D.C. to study Utah women's well-being. One graph shows the disparity in wages between the sexes. Women with a bachelor's degree earn a median income of $41,800 while men take home $65,000.

Their college completion rates in the state are 10 percentage points lower than men, and while women show strength at the polls, they tend to steer away from getting politically involved.

"Women actually register to vote, more than men, but our political representation is quite low,” Burkholder said. “We rank 45th in the nation for the number of women in our legislature and we have no women in statewide elected office, and no women in U.S. Congress.”

"Women are often led to believe that the issues that go on within the government are too complicated for them to understand," said Jenn Gonnelly, who is Co-President for the League of Women Voters of Utah.

She also helps with a new non-partisan campaign called "Real Women Run."

"Real Women Run is a coalition, a not for profit, non-partisan group that teaches women what they need to do to run for office, how they can be involved and teach them that their voice is valid," said Gonnelly, who believes several Utah women have already paved the way politically.

"Karen Hale, Jackie Biskupski, Speaker Becky Lockhart and House Minority Leader Jen Seelig, they have really shown us that women need to be at the table,” she said.