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Utah Women and Education Summit Presented Nov. 12 at UVU

4 November 2010 No Comment

November 4, 2010
For Immediate Release

For more information: Susan Madsen (801) 863-6176
University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807
Written by: Karissa Neely (801) 863-6351

The two-year Utah Women and Education Project (UWEP) is coming to a close, and data from the findings is in.

Susan Madsen, the project’s director and an associate professor of management at Utah Valley University, will present the research results along with her team at the Utah Women and Education Summit Friday, Nov. 12, at 8:30 a.m. in the Sorensen Student Center, room 206.

“We’ll present our results regarding what young women in Utah are thinking about higher education,” Madsen said. “We’ve focused on understanding how family, schooling, religion, and values have influenced young women and shape their motivations, perceptions, aspirations, and college decisions.”

Madsen said the data shows that many young women do not understand the broad benefits of getting college degrees. In addition, some young women have heard little or nothing about financial aid programs available for higher education.

“Some of these women don’t think there is any way for them to go to college,” Madsen said.

The Utah Women and Education Summit marks the official start of the dissemination phase of the project. For the next six months, the UWEP team will be presenting findings through various avenues and speaking to numerous groups. Madsen will also work with her research team to publish their results. The focus will be on how parents, schools, colleges, and the community can support young women in their educational goals.

“We need to get this information out so it can be used,” Madsen said.

Other prominent state leaders will be at the summit. William A. Sederburg, commissioner of Higher Education, and Larry K. Shumway, state superintendent of Public Instruction, will give the opening addresses.

“The future of higher education in Utah looks to provide a greater quality of life, as well as economic prosperity, to the community,” Sederburg said. “Currently, only 39 percent of Utahns have a college degree. We are in the process of creating a 10-year plan, at the Governor’s request, to have 66 percent of Utah’s workforce with a post-secondary degree and/or training by the year 2020. Since Utah currently ranks below the national average in percentage of women attending postsecondary institutions, studies like Dr. Madsen’s are extremely important in helping encourage women to obtain college degrees.”

Pamela S. Perlich, senior research economist in the Utah Bureau of Economic and Business Research, will highlight Utah’s demographic trends, and how they specifically pertain to women and education.

The Utah Women and Education Project is an attempt to better understand these trends through rigorous research and to inform and influence more Utah women to enter college and obtain postsecondary degrees. Research from the project has shown that women in Utah are not enrolling and completing degrees in high-demand fields that customarily pay well. Researchers have also found that Utah drops further behind the national average as the degree level increases-from associate to bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees.

Through the project, researchers have discovered that in previous decades, female Utahns have surpassed the national average in terms of the percent of those with college degrees, but that between 1993 and 2003 the proportion of Utah women enrolled in college steadily declined. While enrollment rates among women have recently begun increasing again, they have not kept pace with the national average. When compared to all other states, Utah is last in terms of the percentage of female students enrolled in colleges and universities.

Education and trades are the only disciplines where Utah females do not lag behind national degree attainment figures. In fact, Utah women rank 12.5 percent higher than the national average in earning degrees or certificates in the trades, which includes high numbers of women in culinary arts and cosmetology.

To learn more about the Utah Women and Education Project, please visit www.uvu.edu/wep.

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