Women make up 42% of government leaders in Utah counties, according to a new study from the Utah Women and Leadership Project.
The study breaks down where and how women are leading in county government and is co-authored by Dr. April Townsend and Dr. Susan Madsen. Madsen said there were some surprises in the number of women leaders in each county.
“Typically according to the research, you would have more women in the largest counties and less women in the smaller counties. But you didn't really see that it's more like a curve in ours, Counties with less employees actually have some of the highest, but then it's the largest county governments in terms of employees had the highest as well and then in the middle they were a bit lower. So that was surprising," Madsen said.
The findings are difficult to compare to other states as there is little data on women in county government. The study’s authors hope this baseline will be the first step on the road to equal representation for women across all levels of government.
“American democracy is grounded in the idea of representation," Madsen said. "I mean, that's a basic concept in the United States with democracy. And what becomes clearer and clearer as the research moves forward, is that if you don't have that representation at all levels of government that you really don't get the representation, the voices and the decision making that you need.”
This is the second of three parts in the Utah Women and Leadership Project. The full study can be found at usu.edu/uwlp.