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Taking a look at why Utah is ranked low in women equality

school math
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In Madsen study, she talks about the disparity in math scores at an eighth grade level being a metric affecting Utah's equality ranking.

Kailey Foster: An hour ago, I shared some of my conversations with Dr. Susan Madsen, director of Utah Women and Leadership Project about how Utah is ranked last in the nation for Women Equality. Madsen recently co-authored a study that looked at why that was.

In our last segment, you started to point that we have some areas of improvement that we need to look at, what are those?

Susan Madsen: What we did in this report, go back to all the original databases and rerun the data ourselves and say, okay if we could change this, it would add five points or two points just to even get us out of last place.

And so, what was interesting is, two overarching ones were hard to give exact points to, that are kind of complex and could be substantially important to the state. And those first two are narrow the wage gap and increase the percentage of Utah women completing graduate degree programs.

But right behind that, is the importance of electing a woman for one of the two seats in the US Senate. And behind that is electing women for two of the four seats in the US House of Representatives. The research behind that, when you have more women's voices and political-strategic political areas, things do change for women in Utah

KF: And I know you have been looking at this and similar topics for a while now, what surprised you by doing this in-depth study?

SM: This was a different kind of study than we've ever done. And the reason we did this study was that Scott Anderson, who is the CEO of Zions Bank, actually contacted me and said, let's figure out why we keep getting these low rankings.

I was surprised at one of the metrics we haven't talked about yet. A metric about Utah women's perceptions of the affordability of doctor's visits. And what they do in this metric is to say, well, what are men's metrics in your town? Or what are men's perceptions in your town? What are women's and women are much more likely to not go to the doctor because they don't feel like they can afford it? Which is interesting. That one surprised me a little bit and, and I always knew.

I guess the last one, I would say is about the disparity in math scores at eighth grade. And you know, you always know, you hear the literature on boys being ahead in terms of math at younger ages, but when compared to other states, there's still a little gap, but Utah, we ranked pretty low on that one. And it's like, we can do something about this.

You know, you can go to other countries, with girls and boys, and they're the same and math. So, something's going on and the messages those girls are receiving from their teachers or their parents or our society, that maybe they're not supposed to be good at math. Maybe they shouldn't care about math. Now, you think we need to do something about that.

Kailey Foster is a senior at Utah State University studying Agricultural Communications, Broadcast Journalism, and Political Science while also getting a minor in Agribusiness. She was raised in the dairy industry in Rhode Island where she found her passion for the agriculture industry as a whole. Here at USU, she has held various leadership positions in the Dairy Science Club and the local Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. She also also served as the 2020 Utah Miss Agriculture and is currently the 2021 Utah Ms. Agriculture. Here at UPR, she works on agriculture news stories and she produces agriculture segments such as USU Extension Highlights, the Green Thumb, and Ag Matters.