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Utah women choose to earn half as much as men, expert says

By Devon Dolan  |  Posted Oct 22nd, 2012 @ 10:50pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — A recent report from Slate magazine maps out the states where women make the least amount of money, and Utah tops the list as worst in the country.

Across the nation, women make a fraction of what men make. At best, they earn about three-fourths what their male counterparts do. Hit Utah, and that average drops even lower.

The data shows that, on average, for every dollar a Utah man makes his female counterpart makes 55 cents. It's a huge gap, but at least one expert says most of that 45-cent difference is by choice.

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Susan Madsen, director of the Utah Women and Education Initiative, told KSL News Utah's the choice in wage begins as early as college.

"What they're thinking is ‘someday I'll get the degree — after I have my family, after my children are in school; after my children grow up I'll get the degree,'" Madsen explained.

In other words, most aspire to go to college, but not to actually finish. Without that degree, Madsen says it's nearly impossible to get a high-paying job.

"Bottom line is: When you have degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, you're actually making more money in the workplace," she said.

Statistics from the U.S. Department of Workforce Services show Utah has a higher percentage of women who work outside of the home than the national average, making up about 44 percent of the workforce. But the majority of those women are choosing part-time work and more traditional jobs.

"They're not choosing those careers that could pay more," Madsen said.

She also pointed out women can have a career and a family. But in order to do so, she says girls need to be told that at an early age. Parents should talk to them about formulating a plan on how they will complete their education while still having a family, if that's what they choose.

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