SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – Utah was recently named one of the worst states for women by the news site 24/7. In the rankings, political representation of women and the gender gap dominated.
The gender wage gap has been narrowing in recent years but it has stalled in the last decade in part due to the Great Recession, still, “it is an issue of concern for those who care about fairness but, as well how we make a living, and how our state and country is doing,” said Dr. Günsel Berik, Professor of Economics at the University of Utah.
Dr. Berik held a lecture today at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah to discuss “Equal Pay: Debunking the Myths Behind the Gender Wage Gap.”
In the United States women earn 78% of what men earn, in Utah, that number is 70% with a 30% gap. Making Utah 48th in the country.
However, women are making great strides and the gap is expected to close in 2058. Many factors contributing to a close are lead by women rising in qualifications for jobs and making head-ways in some higher learning occupations.
Still, discrimination in the workforce widely exists.
“They’re subtle and these stereotypes keep persisting and keep shaping employer hiring, promotion, pay practices,” said Dr. Berik.
Another topic she covered was that of education and several disparities existing in that area. For instance, men require less education than women to make the same level of pay. Even more startling, women who go into higher learning occupations see a wider wage gap. She also pointed out that women who earn a graduates degree still make less than men who just earned their bachelors.
A part from education, race and ethnicity also pay a factor in the gender gap. Dr. Berik cited that racial groups see a smaller gender gap. Through the discussion, it was clear that the answer to solving the gender gap is a complex one.
“This presentation really taught me that there are several levels to this issue and it’s just not about choice or education. There’s also racial factors and a multitude of different issues involved,” said Cindy Chen, a junior at the University of Utah who organized the lecture.
Dr. Berik also stressed that the gender gap is a family issue citing that 40% of mothers with children under 18 are the sole breadwinner in their families.
Reducing the wage gap, Dr. Berik says, would have a positive impact on society, a families well-being relies on income and today many families rely on a woman’s income to make ends meet.
“women are sole breadwinners in many instances, so, we need to adapt the work places to the presence of women and we need to care about family well being that these women support.”