The number of Utah Women in the labor force directly affects our economy.
In December of 2016 the Utah Women and Leadership Project got tother with the YWCA of Utah to bring tougher local thought leaders, business owners and positions to provide choices, support, to women who want or need to work more options in Utah. The meeting was sparked by a research snapshot titled Labor Force Participation Among Utah Women.
Over the last 50 years the presence of Utah women in the labor force has slowly increased at about 8% per year. Utah women are unique in that they are less likely to full time, year round. Many factors contribute to this including marital status, and family status. More than 40% of Utah women work in just two occupational groups, both of which pay less than the median state average.
Working women in the state of Utah face various challenges like access to affordable child care, or the “cliff effect,” wherein women who have been receiving public benefits risk losing this support as they become eligible for promotions or raises at work. These issues and others were discussed resulting in multiple impact recommendations.
Financial incentives and support
- First, incentivize paid leave and other interventions that support work and family.
- Then, explore incentives, if any, from GOED; for example, if companies provide support/benefits, are there incentives through GOED/state?
- Because transportation could be high cost issue for low income mothers this should be explored (see below).
- Explore incentives with affordable housing; for example, is there transit-oriented development close to childcare or elder care?
Creation of economic opportunity
- Explore intergenerational communal living.
- Support the expansion of existing programs and resources.
- Finally, partner most closely with nonprofits who engage in this space.
- Provide support for job retention; understand reasons for instability more deeply and provide workshops for employers/employees on these issues.
- Provide more workshops for women looking for jobs and re-entering the workforce.
- Provide a broader focus of women’s career options
- Because there are so many mothers, there is a need to create more resources to help women re-enter the workforce at various levels.
- More trade field apprenticeships needed.
- Most notably, consider more career training and opportunities for women not getting to college. For example, letting them know there are high paying job in male-dominated careers that take only certificates.
Advocacy and shaping attitudes
- Provide outreach to girls and young women to see possibilities, expand thinking, and help them understand conflicting messages.
- It’s time to challenge LDS myths regarding women and careers and clarify the difference between doctrine and culture.
- Offer training on unconscious bias.
- Finally, continue to provide messaging specifically forwomen about the importance of attending and completing college.
Laws, policies, and regulations
- Explore renters’ rights as they impact staying in the same job for many women.
- Another exploration idea is to investigate the issues around wages/salary for having and keeping benefits.
- Consider legislation around leave and other support policies.
- Strengthen child care policies like simplifying DWS vouchers and seeing if UESP funds be used for childcare while going to college.
- Audit state jobs; how can they be restructured for optimal work-family or work-life results.
- Consider elder care as part of work-family support.
- Explore comparable pay in state agencies (pilot study).
- WIEC can explore options related to continuing to decrease barriers in female dominated professions (e.g., interior design).
- Consider transportation access for all who have difficulty getting to work, physicians, childcare, etc.
- Lastly, consider state support for some of the solutions.
Research and data
- First, study the reasons for job stability more deeply.
- There should also be an increased interest in the effect of access to transportation, healthcare, and housing on workforce: what are the barriers, who is struggling, and why?
- What is does the data look like in Utah on the effect of no family planning?
- Another mode of study could be the multiple dimensions of opportunity to employment and education.
- Additionally, studying the recession recovery and how it is not equal across populations and communities within Utah may have an impact on job options for women.
- There is complexity in women’s labor force participation. It seems necessary to study this further, including qualitative studies.
- Because of the complexity, for all future research context is critical; we need to understand the full picture. Utah women have such different experiences, and understanding perceptions and complexity is critical.
Subsequently, 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 increase options for Utah women in the labor force check out the full impact recommendations report to our Utah women in the labor force research snapshot.
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