Utah Takes Needed Steps to Address Workplace Inequality

The Utah Women and Leadership Project is helping the state overcome its ranking as one of the nation's serious underachievers when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. 


Big Think has partnered with PwC to bring you big ideas on the future of women in leadership. Register here for a live webcast presented by PwC on February 27th with Claire Shipman and "The Confidence Code" co-author Katty Kay.

Utah is a national underachiever when it comes to gender equality in the workplace. But thanks to the Utah Women and Leadership Project, hosted by Utah Valley University, there is a new effort in the state to conduct scientific research on women's professional standings and "help prepare and advance women for leadership within the state."

A new publication from the organization summarizes findings from a survey of Utah women seeking to understand why Utah struggles to get more women into leadership roles, what (if any) struggles Utah women have with workplace confidence, and how girls and women can be encouraged to have more confidence and become leaders in the state.

During an event hosted by the Utah Women and Leadership project, the concept of confidence emerged as the most important tool in helping women feel empowered, taking the top two positions of the nine leadership concepts identified by attendees. They concluded that confidence is often conflated with passive traits, such as having self-esteem, when the essence of confidence is more about "acting" and "doing":

"Understanding the differences and relationships among confidence, self- esteem, self-compassion, optimism, and self-efficacy is critical. It helps us pinpoint where we have confidence and where we can make specific improvements (e.g., deflecting praise, reluctance to acknowledge one’s strengths, clinging to past failures, negotiating pay, not pursuing opportunities, and seeking approval)."

Addressing the phenomenon known as the Gender Confidence Gap between men and women, the report says:

"Understanding gender differences with confidence is very helpful. Concepts of particular interest were the biological differences between men and women (e.g., brain and hormones), how women think and reason through success and failure, how they end declarative statements as if they were questions (i.e., upspeak), and how men blame external influences for failure and women blame themselves."

In 2013, the state of Utah was ranked last of all 50 states by the Center for American Progress in terms of women holding positions of decision-making and leadership. Using Census Bureau data, Utah was ranked last again by Wall Street 24/7 when it came to women holding leadership positions, including posts in the state legislature, and for having one of the nation's widest gender pay gaps.

This article is part of a series on developing women leaders presented in partnership with PwC. Watch Claire Shipman and "The Confidence Code" co-author Katty Kay in a live webcast presented by PwC on February 27th. Register here for the webcast, and follow the conversation on Twitter:#PwCAspire

Car culture and suburbs grow right-wing populism, claims study

New research links urban planning and political polarization.

Pixabay
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Canadian researchers find that excessive reliance on cars changes political views.
  • Decades of car-centric urban planning normalized unsustainable lifestyles.
  • People who prefer personal comfort elect politicians who represent such views.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

NASA astronomer Michelle Thaller on ​the multiple dimensions of space and human sexuality

Science and the squishiness of the human mind. The joys of wearing whatever the hell you want, and so much more.

Flickr / 13winds
Think Again Podcasts
  • Why can't we have a human-sized cat tree?
  • What would happen if you got a spoonful of a neutron star?
  • Why do we insist on dividing our wonderfully complex selves into boring little boxes
Keep reading Show less