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

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less