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Sexist comments “prevelant and normalized” in Utah, study says

Nov 4, 2021, 8:30 PM | Updated: 8:31 pm

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LOGAN, Utah — Based on a 2020 survey conducted at Utah State University, the Utah Women and Leadership Project says that sexist comments and remarks “remain prevalent” in Utah.

Further, the group said these types of remarks are “normalized” across the spectrum of everyday conversation, public communication, and social settings in Utah.

“In general, women said they experienced outright or subtle bias,” Susan Madsen, UWLP director, told KSL NewsRadio.

“Oftentimes, men will talk about how a woman looks, instead of her mind,” Madsen said. “That relates to sexualizing women. Just focusing on the physical appearance and the bodies, we tend to think about that more towards women than men.”

The UWLP offered the online study in the spring of 2020. They said that 839 women from diverse backgrounds and situations participated in the survey, ranging in age from 18 to 70. 

The study included a response section that asked participants to share the sexist comments they heard and the way they responded to the comments.

Madsen says the most common types of comments reported by respondents involved stereotypes.

“Sexist language, you know, skipping by women’s contributions, assumed that they were incompetent,” Madsen said.

In one instance, Madsen relayed an example of a female attorney in a room full of male attorneys asked to get someone a cup of coffee.

Part of the study was to analyze how the women participating in the study reacted or responded to sexist comments. Most of them reported giving a direct response like asking a question, providing information, offering a snarky response or, reacting with humor. The second-most offered response was no response at all.

An effective teaching tool can be a direct or educational response to a sexist statement, Madsen said. And she says she hopes the study itself can be a tool to empower women in the workplace and elsewhere.

Simone Seikaly contributed

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Sexist comments “prevelant and normalized” in Utah, study says