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Women still earn less than their male counterparts, according to UVU’s Utah Women & Leadership Project

4 August 2017 No Comment

University Marketing & Communications: Layton Shumway | 801-863-6863 | LShumway@uvu.edu

Written by: Barbara Christiansen | 801-863-8208 | BarbaraC@uvu.edu

The Equal Pay Act for genders is more than half a century old, yet women are still paid less than men in almost every occupation. Utah women earn approximately 71 cents per dollar that a man earns. It is the nation’s fourth-largest gender wage gap for year-round full-time workers. The Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah Valley University has released those findings in the latest of its research snapshots.

Numerous factors affect the pay the women receive, according to the research. Those include educational attainment, recruitment practices, negotiation skills and expectations, job assignment and type of work, hours worked, occupational segregation, occupational tenure, lower earnings in traditionally female occupations, time spent on family care, and discrimination based on gender, compounded by race, ethnicity and age.

Utah’s unique cultural and demographic factors may contribute to the high gender wage gap, the snapshot says. Approximately 60 percent of Utah’s residents identify as being members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have an emphasis on marriage and motherhood as a high priority for women. Utah has the nation’s highest marriage rate, the earliest age for marriage, the second-highest fertility rate, and the largest average household size.

With those demographics, many women are prioritizing family over career, which may affect their educational goals.

“Utah women are less likely than men to earn graduate or professional degrees, which would lead to higher-paying jobs,” the report says.

The women may anticipate they will be primarily homemakers, but Utah women are actually found in the labor force in similar percentages as those in the rest of the nation, according to the snapshot.

Occupational segregation is the tendency for some jobs and industries to be heavily occupied by one gender. It has always been a major factor in the wage gap, with male-dominated fields generally paying more than those that are dominated by women. However, scholars have noted there are major discrepancies between pay even within the same occupations.

“Reducing the wage gap is a critical goal, yet it will take concerted efforts by many stakeholders, including educators, corporations, and legislators,” the snapshot says. Utah’s females need encouragement to attend and graduate from college, particularly at the bachelor’s degree level and higher.

“Young people also need a clear understanding of the realities of the Utah labor force, including the fact that most women will likely be employed for much of their lives, so they can plan accordingly,” it says.

“Forward-thinking companies who wish to thrive in a time of low unemployment and a tight labor market would do well to explore flexible work arrangements and alternative career pathways for women who are highly capable and skilled but may not fit into the standard eight-to-five mold,” it says.

“Policy makers could create and strengthen laws that would support pay equity,” the snapshot says. There are some protections for equal pay, but more can be done to help women, it says.

To read the full snapshot, visit http://www.uvu.edu/uwlp/docs/uwsgenderwagegap.pdf.

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