Recently, my friend pointed me toward an article in the recent Utah Business magazine that gave the facts on the employment of women and men in Utah and their current wages. The data was sourced to the U.S. Census Bureau 2008 – 2012 American Community Survey. And, it made me sad. Out of just over 1.2 million employed, civilian workers females made up 44.4% of the workforce and earned a median $20,053 per year (compared to males at $39,880).
In doing some follow up research, I got a lot more sad at the current state of affairs in Utah for female professionals. It ultimately makes me worried for my daughter, wanting to figure out a way to help her lean to navigate the workforce reality. USA Today stated in a recent article that Utah is the #1 worst state for women. The methodology for their rating looks at wage gap, women in private company leadership, women in state legislature, poverty rate and infant mortality rate. The article even noted that in Utah, women are holding less than 1 in 3 management positions.
I have been a resident of Utah for about 10 of the last 13 years. I never thought I would live in Utah. I met Jon at a wedding in Ohio, and I vividly remember him telling me he lived in Utah. Utah? I knew California, Las Vegas, Yellowstone and the Colorado rockies, but Utah? Weren’t people from Utah either Mormon or ski bums? Jon didn’t seem like either when I met him, so I went with it. I was simply a love-struck 20 something, wondering more about where our next date weekend would be than the state of the workforce for female professionals. I ultimately moved here, have fallen in love with the place, and have led about half of my 16 year career in the state.
Now, I consider myself a Utah local, a professional woman, and one of the apparently few female company executives in the state. I sit here thinking about how my role as a female executive can help drive change. It is ironic to think this way, because I rarely, if ever, think about being a woman at work. Over the years, I have come to work, tried my hardest to succeed every day, looked for opportunities to stretch myself, learned a lot, and ultimately tried not to take no for an answer. By not defining myself using my gender, I have never seen professional boundaries. This boundary-less world view has by its definition opened up my eyes to opportunities that I would otherwise never have seen.
I want to help, and take a purposeful role in making the future better in Utah for women. But, I feel stuck. Due to the fact that I am a working mother of two, and have the job that I have, I have little time to give to anything beyond my family and my job. I feel guilty and sad to see this state of affairs and not be able to give more to help change it. That said, this reality I live in of having to forcefully prioritize the time that I have, has been one of the things that has made me successful over the years. So, my game plan is to help in the way my schedule and life allow. I figured writing down a few commitments would help me to remember to stay accountable.
- Raising strong-willed, independent children with Jon who see professional women as the norm;
- Helping people in my team succeed as female professionals (in particular working moms);
- Continue building a culture at CHG Healthcare where it is possible to be a successful working mom and a working dad;
- Mentor people whenever I can find a spare moment helping to guide them through the choices that they need to make;
- And, most importantly, never give up on my own dreams. Shape them to be what I want them to be, not what others think is the right answer.
A short but important list that will hopefully help make a difference.