Women’s Equality in Utah

 

For four years in a row, Utah has been ranked the worst state for women’s equality in the United States of America. Each state is ranked based on three different categories: employment and wages, health and education, and empowerment through politics. Even everyday students are experiencing the results of gender inequality in their day to day lives. In my 9th grade year, one of my teachers was having the class share about what we want to be when we grow up. I raised my hand and shared that I had an interest in working in politics. A boy in the class looked at me and said, “You’ll never make it in politics because you’re a woman and you’re too sensitive.” 

 

Utah has the largest gender wage gap in the entire country. In some jobs, women are paid less than men solely because they are female. In a state-wide survey taken by Utah women in 2019, more than half of the women surveyed said they have been paid less than a man in the same job as them. Education comes into play when women feel like they can’t take care of children or have a job and go to school all at once. Time and time again, women feel like they can’t run for positions of power because they know that a man has a higher chance of winning over them. These factors all contribute to the fact that Utah has the lowest ranking for women’s equality.

 

In an interview with Becky Jacobs from the Salt Lake Tribune, Kelly Whited Jones, President of the Utah Equal Rights Amendment Coalition, stated, “Being last does not feel great. It’s painful for me to read those numbers and understand what that translates to in people’s lives and families lives.” 

 

There are widespread stereotypes surrounding women within the state of Utah. An example would include the idea that every little girl is going to grow up just to stay at home, have a family, and do the cooking and cleaning. Even though that may be the dream for some, it’s not ideal for others. Wanting to go out into the world and prove that women can make a difference is a dream for many women and girls.

 

This type of sexism can be observed in many different situations and scenarios; even here at school. There are numerous times when girls are walking down the halls, sitting in class, or at their extracurricular activities when they hear comments of discouragement against them because of their gender. Ellie Taylor, a student at Copper Hills and a member of the girl’s basketball team, says, “In my sport I get told I’ll lose to the guys because I’m not good enough.” 

 

Another student at CHHS, Brooklynn Oldroyd said, “I was talking with some of my cross country friends and we were all talking about how proud we were of ourselves for all ‘pr’ing’ in our last race. One of our guy friends was there and he started talking about how women suck at all sports and we’re actually really slow compared to high school boys. I remember him saying, ‘Freshman boys beat a team of women’s Olympic soccer players. That’s so sad, women are so pathetic.’ All of us got quiet and the mood was killed.” Brooklynn further explained that she felt like she wasn’t good enough at her sport even though she felt like she worked as hard as the boys on the team.

This is an example of the things that females at Copper Hills and women in general face in day to day life. There needs to be change and change is on its way.

 

 Ms. Catten, advisor over the Women Inspiring Strength & Empowerment (W.I.S.E.) club at Copper Hills High School says, “I want to see more women in positions of power…They say that things are changing in the direction that I’d like to see them. I want to see it continue and I want to see my students in those positions and I want to celebrate with them.” It starts with the students. Change starts with the younger generation who are willing to step up and take a stand. 

 

There are many simple things that society can do to reform gender equality issues within the state of Utah. The YWCA  is a non-profit organization in Utah that is dedicated to “eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.” Their mission is to help girls and women across the state achieve the equality they deserve. By donating or volunteering, people can help make even the smallest of differences in many women’s lives across the state; there’s even other simple ways for high school students to help.

 

An easy way for high school students to spread awareness regarding gender inequality is on social media. It’s accessible to many, and even if it may seem small, it can make an impact. It only takes a few seconds to make a post about women’s inequality in the state of Utah and at school. Another great way to help is joining W.I.S.E. at Copper Hills. Being involved and willing to speak up about this topic is the easiest way to bring more awareness to the problem and help decrease the amount of inequality for women in Utah.

 

“When you empower women, you empower the world,” says Ms. Catten. Empowering women and helping them achieve equality within Utah will not only benefit them, but it can benefit the world as a society in moving forward. It will also affect the well-being of our school. Female students will be more empowered and will take charge, realizing that there’s a whole window of opportunities open to them and to their futures.