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A USU study shows the Utah wage gap is one of the highest in the nation

USU Extension

A recent research compilation by USU shows that the gender wage gap here in Utah is among the highest in the nation. 

In 1963, the Equal Pay Act was passed in efforts to close the wage gap between men and women. Now, over fifty years later, there is still work that needs to be done to close this gap. 

Dr. Susan Madsen, founding director of the Utah Women and Leadership Project, is one of the four authors of a study that looked at Utah’s pay gap. She said in more religious environments, different jobs and industries tend to be occupied predominantly by one gender. 

“But in Utah, we actually see an exaggeration that those numbers are significantly less women in technology and in you know, those STEM areas and also in business. And those are the areas that are really the most high paying areas,” said Madsen.

Traditionally arguments for the wage gap include that it is "the women’s fault." However, this, Madsen said, is the result of societal pressures that push conversations telling women there are certain areas that they should work in. 

But this isn’t the only reason we see this pay gap. Madsen said this can be traced back to when we are kids. 

“When boys are given jobs, they're much more likely to be paid for their, for their jobs,"  said Madsen. "And when we give our daughters jobs, oftentimes, we just expect them not to be paid. So we start these habits way back then.”

Madsen said how we handle the pay gap now will affect future generations  . 

“When we choose to not pay, men and women the same and women of color are even more disadvantaged than it's going to disadvantage, you know, our next generation of children,” said Madsen. 

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.