POLITICS + GOVERNMENT

Women in state leadership roles increasing in Utah

Jun 4, 2024, 9:00 PM

A State of Utah emblem is displayed in the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024....

A State of Utah emblem is displayed in the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Friday, Feb. 23, 2024.

SALT LAKE CITY — Female state government employees are increasing in number in Utah.

Overall, 41.4% of managerial, leadership, and supervisory positions in Utah government are held by women. That’s a 2.1% increase from 2020, according to a Utah Women and Leadership Project report.

The new study follows a similar work conducted in 2020, and it’s the first of three reports on Utah women in government expected to be released this year.

“It’s been (an) intentional decision, intentional work, and that’s why we’re seeing the progress,” said Dr. Susan Madsen, director of the UWLP.

What the research found about Utah women in leadership roles

The research found: 

  • that women comprise 42.2% of front-line leadership positions, a 1% increase from 2020,
  • women in senior leadership roles increased by 10%,
  • women fill 30.4% of cabinet-level roles, up 3.3% from 2020, and
  • over 60% of leaders in public education, cultural and community engagement, and health and human services are women.

“The research continues to tell us that we serve the people in our state, in our communities, when there are more equal numbers of men and women,” said Madsen.

Utah bucked at least one trend in leadership roles

And Utah proved to be an outlier in a national trend that shows agencies or companies with larger budgets have fewer female employees.

The new data from UWLP showed women account for 51.5% of leaders in Utah government, which appears in the “largest budget category,” ranging from $900 million to $9 billion. 

“Typically when you have companies, organizations, agencies that have bigger budgets, you tend to see less women,” said Dr. Madsen.

“You tend to see more women in agencies or companies (with) smaller budgets … that didn’t play out here in Utah.”

The Utah Women and Leadership Project will release similar reports later this year. But, they’ll focus on the number of Utah women in county governments and municipalities.

This series of reports will continue every three to four years according to Madsen. The group hopes to track Utah’s progress with women in state government roles.

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Women in state leadership roles increasing in Utah