How do women serving in Utah politics compare to national averages?

Feb 27, 2023, 2:00 PM | Updated: 3:01 pm


The Utah House of Representatives stand to honor families of first responders at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 10, 2023. Photo: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah lags behind most other states in terms of women running for and serving in elected political roles. However not this year according to Utah State University. 

USU wanted to track Utah women in politics to see if the state’s rich heritage of females involved in voting, advocacy, and politics holds true. 

In order to track the progress, the Utah State University Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) led the observing.

In a press release from USU, the UWLP allegedly began reporting on the status of women in politics in 2014.

UWLP gave numerical updates in 2017, 2021, 2022, and now 2023.

“The reports [intend] to be a snapshot to identify if changes have been made,” said Susan Madsen, UWLP founding director and one of two report authors. “It is also a call to action for Utah residents and leaders to encourage and support future efforts to diversify voices on Utah’s Capitol Hill and in our cities, towns, and counties around the state.”

Utah behind national averages 

Utah became a state in 1896 and UWLP found that since then, only four females served in congress.

Additionally, as UWLP points out, none of Utah’s national delegation congressional seats are being held by females. Comparatively, the national average is 27.9% female hold.

The Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers also weighed in. In Utah, 26% of Utah legislators are female, compared to 32.7% nationally.

Utah with national averages 

In comparison, Utah has 20% of executive office seats held by females and the national average is 30.3% Executive office seats include: governor or lieutenant governor, attorney general, state auditor and state treasurer. 

That said, according to UWLP, Utah is one of 21 states with a female lieutenant governor.

Utah has 11 leadership positions in the House of Representatives. In 2023, women hold five, this is in comparison to only two in 2022. 

The UWLP report reads, “More of Utah’s larger cities are being led by women.” Contextually, Up 6.5% from 2021, 23.8% of Utah mayors are women, In city councils, 29.8% in Utah municipalities are female. More equally, for boards of education, in 2023 women hold 54.5%. 

Where are the women?

As mentioned previously, UWLP has been observing females participating in politics since 2014.

April Townsend, UWLP research fellow and a report author said they found several reasons why more women do not run for office. 

“Some include societal attitudes, poor treatment of female candidates who run, biases in party politics toward traditional practices that keep women from running and networking and the way women are treated by the media,” said Townsend. 

Additionally, Madsen said she understands politics are increasingly making way for women. However, Utah needs to eliminate adversities faced by females who choose to run.

“We encourage Utah leaders and residents to do more to implement and support these efforts,” said Madsen in a press release. “Research continues to confirm that when both men and women serve together in communities, counties, and states, all residents are better served and are more likely to thrive.”

Related reading:

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Politics + Government

FILE - The Instagram app icon on the screen of a mobile device. With an eye on testing the Reels al...

Simone Seikaly

Instagram algorithm test “is scary,” says Utah state senator

Utah State Senator Mike McKell said Instagram's algorithm isn't alone in helping to target users for unsafe content.

13 hours ago

governor cox and several other people speak about his plan to address homelessness in utah...

Aimee Cobabe and Hugo Rikard-Bell

Gov. Cox releases budget plan to improve homelessness resources in Utah

Gov. Spencer Cox's office said Utah has gaps in how it addresses homelessness. His plans will attempt to close those gaps.

15 hours ago

Simone Seikaly

Democratic Rep. Brian King launches bid for Utah governor

King was elected to the Utah House in 2008, and though a Democratic governor is rare in Utah, King said voters want to move beyond labels.

17 hours ago

Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Japayal on Sunday reiterated her call for a ceasefire in Gaza, eve...

Casey Gannon, CNN

Rep. Pramila Jayapal stands by call for ceasefire in Gaza as fighting resumes

Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Japayal on Sunday reiterated her call for a ceasefire in Gaza, even as fighting has resumed.

2 days ago

Buoys meant to deter migrant crossings are anchored in the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas, o...

Sara Weisfeldt and Kaanita Iyer, CNN

Federal appeals court orders Texas to remove controversial border buoys from Rio Grande

Texas has been ordered to remove its border buoys from the Rio Grande, in another victory for the Biden administration.

3 days ago

FILE - U.S. Rep. George Santos, R-N.Y., holds a miniature American flag that was presented to him a...

By Gregory Krieg, CNN

The race is already on for Santos’ New York seat as Hochul prepares to announce special election date

George Santos is gone from Congress, but his disastrous tenure will not be forgotten by party leaders as they prepare for what is expected to be a fiercely contested and expensive special election to replace him.

4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Human hand holding a protest banner stop vaping message over a crowded street background....

Prosperous Utah Communities

Utah’s Battle to Protect Youth from Vaping Epidemic Faces New Threat as Proposed Rule Threatens Progress

Utah's strict standards of nicotine levels in vaping products are at risk, increasing health hazards associated with use. Read more about how you can advocate for a better future for Utah's youth.

Aerial photo of Bear Lake shoreline with canopies and people camped out on the beach...

Visit Bear Lake

Last-Minute Summer Vacation Planning? Check Out Bear Lake!

Bear Lake is the perfect getaway if you are last-minute summer vacation planning. Enjoy activities with your whole family at this iconic lake.

How do women serving in Utah politics compare to national averages?