Utah: The worst state in America for women

Preschool might not be required, but preschoolers still need attention to get ready for their school day. (Stock photo by thinkstock.com)

Utah women in the workplace earn only 70 cents for every dollar earned by male employees, one factor in USA Today’s study that claims Utah is the worst state in America for women. (Stock photo)

Utah is the worst state in America for women, based on a study done by 24/7 Wall St. and reported in USA Today.

While many Utah women who enjoy Utah’s scenic beauty, family-friendly environment, relatively low crime rates and plethora of other attractions and advantages would take exception to the claim, the Oct. 19 article in the Money section of USA Today says it’s true.

The article originally appeared in 24/7 Wallst.com.

The claim is based mostly on economy, leadership and health issues. The study used a methodology based on the Center for American Progress’ 2013 report, “The State of Women in America.”

The article points out that Utah women only earned 70 cents for each dollar that their male counterparts brought in from the workplace and that less than 31 percent of the management positions in Utah were held women.

Furthermore, the study maintains, Utah has a dearth of women holding leadership roles in government. Of the 75 seats in Utah’s House of Representatives, women held only six in 2013. There were just five female state-level senators. Altogether, women made up just 16.3 percent of state legislators.

USA Today writers concluded that lack of leadership and low pay for women could be interrelated.

“Perhaps the lack of women in traditionally high-paying management and high-level government occupations has exacerbated the gender pay gap. While a typical man in Utah earned more than $50,000 last year, most women made 70 percent — or $35,252 — of that figured, nearly the largest pay discrepancy in the country,” Thomas Frohlich wrote.

Here are the 10 worst states for women as identified in the study:

10. Kansas 

Gender wage gap: 79 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 15.2%
Pct. in state legislature: 24.8%
Infant mortality rate: 7.5 per 1,000 births

9. Alabama

Gender wage gap: 79 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 20.5%
Pct. in state legislature: 14.3%
Infant mortality rate: 9.2 per 1,000 births

8. Indiana

Gender wage gap: 74 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 17.5%
Pct. in state legislature: 20.0%
Infant mortality rate: 7.4 per 1,000 births

7. South Dakota

Gender wage gap: 75 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 15.5%
Pct. in state legislature: 22.9%
Infant mortality rate: 7.1 per 1,000 births

6. Montana

Gender wage gap: 74 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 17.7%
Pct. in state legislature: 27.3%
Infant mortality rate: 6.6 per 1,000 births

5. North Dakota 

Gender wage gap: 70 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 12.8%
Pct. in state legislature: 17.0%
Infant mortality rate: 6.6 per 1,000 births

4. Mississippi

Gender wage gap: 77 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 26.6%
Pct. in state legislature: 17.2%
Infant mortality rate: 10 per 1,000 births

3. Idaho

Gender wage gap: 76 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 16.2%
Pct. in state legislature: 26.7%
Infant mortality rate: 6.0 per 1,000 births

2. Wyoming

Gender gap: 69 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 12.1 %
Pct in state legislature: 15.6 %
Infant mortality rate: 6.8 per 1,000 births

1. Utah

Gender wage gap: 70 cents per dollar
Poverty rate, women: 13.6%
Pct. in state legislature: 16.3%
Infant mortality rate: 5.0 per 1,000 births

Data for the study in the economy category came from the U.S. Census Bureau. It included male and female median earnings, the percent of children enrolled in kindergarten, state spending per child enrolled in pre-kindergarten and education attainment rates. The leadership category included data on the percent of women in management occupations from the Census. It also includes the share of state and federal legislators who are women, and states that currently have female governors. The health section incorporated Census data on the percent of women who were uninsured as well as life expectancy. Infant and maternal mortality rates came from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Data on the expansion of Medicaid, as policies towards maternity leave, sick days and time off from work came from the Nation Partnership for Women and Families.


Ron Bennett is a recently retired university journalism professor at Brigham Young University-Idaho, where he taught journalistic writing, editing and mass media classes. He received the Distinguished Faculty award at BYU-I in 2012, and he was honored by the College Media Advisers Association in 2002 with the Distinguished Newspaper Adviser's Award. Prior to entering education, he was a professional journalist at several newspapers, including the Gazette-Journal in Reno, Nevada.

One Comment

  1. AvatarNW Reply

    “Study based on methodology from The Center for American Progress,” is all I needed to know to discard it as horse pucky. However I’m not a Utah woman so…..

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