Gender Wage Gap in Utah Impact Recommendation

In June of 2017 the Utah Women and Leadership Project with YWCA met with thought leaders in Utah to discuss the gender wage gap in Utah and identify strategies to move toward equitable pay for all genders.

The gender wage gap in Utah ranks 4th largest in the nation. Local thought leaders and influencers came together to discuss the gender wage gap in Utah and identify possible steps to minimize it. The Utah Women and Leadership Project then published a research snapshot with a more in depth look at the gender wage gap in Utah compared to the nation. What follows are their recommendations, organized by category. To see all gaps, challenges and participants of the discussion please see the full impact recommendations report.

Financial Incentives and support

  • First, Talk more about value of companies coming in about gender equity, not just about number of jobs coming in.
  • In addition, increase awareness of the gender wage gap to organizations/entities in all sectors (e.g., business, nonprofit, government, education)
  • Develop resources that help organizations understand interventions that could be taken to address these issues.

Technology Infrastructure

  • Continue to develop and strengthen these websites to include more nuances of compensation and improve the accuracy and clarity of the pay in Utah.

Creation of Economic Opportunity

  • Another need is to focus many efforts on less educated women and how this impacts their families more.
  • Promoting certifications and other training that lead to higher paying jobs is important too—in addition to associate, bachelor’s, and graduate degrees.
  • Make sure we’re focusing on natural sciences in STEM, not just tech; increase awareness of all of the options women can choose to major in college. Focus on management training as well.
  • Young people need more awareness and education about reality of economic life.

Capacity Building

  • Develop pool of stories in order to amplify voices and demonstrate that the problem exists.
  • Highlight/promote companies that are doing well.
  • Companies/orgs/agencies helping each other address these issues (e.g., differentials in raises, training)
  • Training and education for employers.
  • Especially relevant is the need for skill- and confidence-building for women.
  • Tap into businesses’ need for more skilled applicants/employees.
  • More work with school counselors/parents, which would consequently get women in non-traditional careers, which usually leads to higher pay.
  • Culture change in occupations that are hostile toward women; can’t just get more women in these careers, as industry needs to adapt so that women are retained in these positions.
  • Raise awareness and provide training regarding the need for women to support and mentor each other.
  • More school counselors need to be hired in general.
  • Real education of young people on financial consequences because of education and/or career decisions.
  • Create support groups for women in nontraditional occupations.

Advocacy and Shaping Attitudes

  • More education and awareness statewide, because employees need to know their rights and obligations.
  • Educate women on the labor market value of their work.
  • In addition, there should be more empowerment for women in making different choices, negotiating, and advocating for themselves.
  • Training and education for employers around attitudes about gender roles, unconscious bias, etc.
  • Education and unconscious bias training for school counselors and how they direct children.
  • Change the conversation – because if it’s truly a free market, commodity of the worker in what they return to the economy regardless of identity, personal circumstances, etc. [need Carrie to articulate in a one-pager, and we need to all “sing off the same song sheet.”]
  • Document stories to illustrate the issues, this is a way to get skeptics on board.
  • Culture change in non-traditional occupations for women, this will consequentially decrease hostility and increase.

Laws, policies and regulations

  • Seems like sometimes we need to be careful with changing statute because they are able to address issues with case law; changing code can have unintended consequences.
  • Utah Women’s Coalition (UWC) is working with Rep. Edwards on a bill to lower threshold from 15 to 5 employees (compliance with anti- discrimination law).
  • Change conversation toward conservative policy argument, because if it’s truly a free market, commodity of the worker in what they return to the economy regardless of identity, personal circumstances, etc.; messaging is important.
  • There seems to be a need for stories to connect it to real people and create empathy; we can develop unexpected allies. UWC able to collect 200 on FMLA. Better utilize online tools to collect those stories.
  • Think strategically about the messenger on this issue to be persuasive.
  • Sophisticated messaging strategy to really lead change on this issue is needed.
  • Additionally, explore if Sen. Anderegg or anyone else is running a bill this session.
  • Support groups for those accessing legal remedies.

Research and data

  • State agency specific information on extent of gap and how to address (Sen. Escamilla’s bill).
  • Information/data needs to be collected on what is happening in all states and what interventions seem to be working within companies, especially relevant is state and local governments (all sectors), and in terms of legislation, policy, and practices.
  • Additionally, investigate the possibility of research using data from the new Utah Data Research Center.

As a result, there are potential actions any citizen can take regardless of professional position, education level or socio-economic status. To learn more about what you can do to help change the gender wage gap in Utah, or to see detailed statistics on how Utah stacks up to the nation read our wage gap research snap shot or the full impact recommendation report.


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