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October 24, 2014

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Liz

I also figured this was a case of manipulated statistics. The infant mortality and pay gap statistics in particular made me suspicious. As always with statistics, it comes down to what you want to measure and interpret from those measurements. Any state can become the "worst" at anything if you choose your measures carefully enough.

There's lairs, damned liars, and then there's statisticians. (Just ask the early church historians who reported that less than 2% of members ever lived in polygamy;) )

Sarah Jensen Clayton

I caught the same inconsistency with MS listed as the worst state in the summary and UT taking the top spot on the actual list. Wondered if perhaps the summary is referring to health outcomes and not overall ratings given the previous sentence?!? It may not be the best state for women who want to serve in a legislature or run a company (and we need to address that) but for women who want to raise a family or do a number of other things, it is likely among the best. Enough with (agenda-driven?) researchers oversimplifying what matters to women.

ce

My first thought is that to the extent that you can make the statement, "Utah must be doing something right to be rated low by this crowd", I would do so. I think its clearly problematic to use the statistics on employment to make conclusions about women without at the very least matching those employment statistics up against self-reported happiness surveys.

Finely, the fact that the legislature or top corporations weren't filled with more women could also be seen as an opportunity for certain women. Not saying that "Utah" is doing women a service by having less women politicians. but that if I turned the tables and saw a company in an area I excelled in that had few Americans or few men, for instance, at the high level, I'd see that as the perfect opportunity for myself to get my foot in the door. I'd stand out and believe enough in my ability to succeed to know I'd have a greater chance of success.

In a similar vein, if you're a woman politician who is good at what she does, Utah might be the -best- place to be, because your success will stand out more so to speak.

The difference is, where others see disparity and complain, I see opportunity to excel.

ce

With my prior comment, call it the Mia Love Effect.

JP

While I actually have loved living in Utah for quality of life issues, the lack of women in the workforce has been surprisingly difficult for me. I didn't think it would matter to me, but it has made socializing and networking at work very difficult--especially since many of my my male coworkers are particularly concerned about "the appearance of evil" that might result from interacting with me. A BYU researcher has done some really fascinating research on the group dynamics that happen when there are only a small number of women in a group: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/10/23/is-an-old-boys-club-always-sexist/. Basically, it's really hard for a women to speak up, be treated respectfully, and get taken seriously in a group that's mostly men.

Jimmy

Spot on Neylan. Having worked on similar lists, I can attest to how easy (and tempting) it is to pick the winner (or loser) beforehand and then weigh each factor so that the quantitative results meet the desired outcome. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the publishers of this list tweaked their equation to make the shocking proclamation that Utah is the worst state for Women. It's just silly.

Also, having worked at several major employers in Utah, the underrepresentation of women in management has little or nothing to do with bias in the workplace and everything to do with the availability of qualified professional women.

Mike

Nice points. As I looked over this list, as an economics prof specializing in labor economics, I agree that the qualitative research is a helpful complement to the quant analysis, but even their quant analysis is pretty shoddy from the start. The list is ridden with self-selection issues, simultaneity bias, and omitted variable bias. Both types of analysis are important, but I would be careful to bash statistics when it is the analysts who have quite the agenda.

Telling it like it is!

I have the unique perspective of looking in as an outsider. I am a professional, non-LDS and visible-minority woman working in a close-knit environment that consists of predominantly male, LDS, Caucasian men. I do not see myself having the same opportunity as others, to move vertically within this organization, although I feel that I have a greater amount of formal training and experience than others. My colleagues are friendly but there is an awkwardness I sense from them because they are not accustomed to dealing with someone at their level as their equal that is a woman. Some of the support staff, consisting of >95% female, do not always treat me with respect perhaps because they too are not accustomed to dealing with a professional woman.

It's far from being a hostile work environment, but there is a definite barrier for women, one that I have never had to deal with in my life prior to moving to Utah.

Kay B

Neylan, I absolutely love this part of your post: "We don't live in an either/or world anymore...today's world is a both/and world, where our women can prioritize motherhood and can also get a higher paying, more socially mobile job that leads to a career..."

That is such a good point and one that I fully believe. I was flipping through some church manuals today, reading up on the topic of gender roles. Aside from the fact that EVERY SINGLE QUOTE I found was from a man, (which is interesting since they're trying to point out that women matter as much as men do), the comments -- while not blatantly incorrect -- reflected a lack of consideration for the multi-dimensional nature of women. Not all women are soft-spoken, pastel-colored, and delicate. Some are bold, assertive, and - dare I say it - leaders. The fact that they associated one type of woman as the model of femininity was disconcerting and discouraging. I am a very assertive individual, but that doesn't stop me from LOVING children and my womanhood (because I do, trust me).

This relates directly back to the article you are referencing. The question I would have as a Utah outsider is, are the Mormon male co-workers thinking to themselves: "she should be at home with the kids," and perhaps even more important, are bosses and professional leaders responsible for promotions thinking the same thing? Are they looking at these women, questioning why they don't measure up to the model of "feminine womanhood" they have been taught is correct? Men outside of the Mormon beltway often stray slightly from these rigid cultural viewpoints, but men within the Mormon beltway.... I don't know. I've never lived in Utah, but I can't help but wonder if these men are able to think outside the box.

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