Thursday, April 9, 2015

It’s National Women’s History Month

By Lecia Parks Langston, Senior Economist

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Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, a Harvard historian who grew up next door in Idaho, once wrote: “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” While I can’t speak to their deportment, Utah’s past is filled with history-making women. Martha Hughes Cannon was a noted physician and the first female state senator in the United States. Sarah Young, granddaughter to Brigham Young, was Utah’s first female voter. Juanita Brooks, a Utah historian, wrote with integrity about the Mountain Meadows Massacre. Mayor Mary Chamberlain headed the United States’ first all-female city council in Kanab. Florence Ellinwood Allen was the first woman appointed to a federal appellate court. Utah's first congresswoman, Reva Beck Bosone, also had a distinguished judicial career. This list just scratches the surface of the many women who have contributed to Utah’s history, published and unpublished.

What do we know about women in Utah today? The figures below, taken primarily from the American Community Survey show data of Utah women, whose present will be the history of tomorrow.


  • Roughly 1.4 million females live in Utah (2013). 
  • Unlike previous decades, Utah males currently out-number Utah females (49.7 percent of the population). 
  • At 85 years old and over, Utah women outnumber Utah men by 1.5 to one. 
  • In Utah, the median age of women is 30.7 years compared to 29.6 for men. 
  • Approximately 57 percent of Utah females over age 15 are married, 27 percent have never married, 6 percent are widowed and 10 percent are divorced. 
  •  There are more than 8,500 female veterans in Utah, 6.5 percent of all Utah veterans. 


  • In 2013, more than 52,000 women gave birth. 
  • Roughly 17 percent of those females were unmarried. 
  • More than 50 percent of women who gave birth were in the labor force. 
  • Almost 357,000 Utah mothers live with a child under 18 years of age. 
  • More than 61 percent of Utah mothers are in the labor force. 


  • Roughly 620,000 Utah women are part of the labor force. 
  • In 1900, only 13 percent of Utah’s women worked outside the home. Today, almost 59 percent of Utah females work for pay (compared to 76 percent of men). 
  • Utah women make up 44 percent of the labor force. Utah women’s labor force participation of 59 percent measures higher than the U.S. average of 58 percent. 
  • Utah women between the ages of 35 to 44 are far less likely to work than U.S. women of the same age. 
  • Women in the older and younger groups are more likely to be labor force participants than females nationwide. 
  • Roughly 99 percent of Utah preschool and kindergarten teachers are females, while only 1 percent of carpenters are women (2006-2010). 
  • Utah women make up roughly 84 percent of lower-skilled healthcare support occupations but only 2 percent of construction and mining occupations (2006-2010). 


  • In 2013, 128,000 Utah women were enrolled in college, professional or graduate schools (4,000 more than Utah men). 
  • In Utah, 29 percent of women had achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher compared to 34 percent of Utah men. 
  • Utah has the largest gender college-education gap in the U.S. 

Earnings and Poverty

  • The median earnings for Utah women who worked year-round, full-time measured $35,252 — only 70 percent of the comparable male earnings. 
  • Differences in education, hours worked, occupational tenure and other demographics account for the vast majority of the male/female wage gap. 
  • Utah shows the fourth-largest female-to-male wage ratio in the United States. 
  • The poverty rate for Utah’s female-headed households with children equaled 37 percent compared to only 9 percent for married couple families with children.

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