Utah Women in the Labor Market

November 4, 2011 | 41 comments
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The Atlantic Cities, currently one of my favorite sites, has, over the last several days, run a series looking into the best states for working women (both generally and in the “creative class”). What leaped out at me: Utah’s a pretty bad place to be a working woman.

A couple caveats before I go any further: first, “Utah” and “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” are not coterminous by any means. I’ve spent a lot of energy arguing, for example, that funeral potatoes are a Utah dish, not a Mormon dish.[fn1] About 60% of Utah’s population is Mormon; although the Church seems to have significantly influenced Utah culture, it cannot be the only influence. Still, people equate “Utah” and “Mormon,” so an analysis of Utah will generally at least imply Mormon as well.

Second, I’m not trying to flame the infamous Mommy Wars. I’m not arguing that it’s better for mothers to stay home with their children, or that it’s better for them to work outside the home. I suspect that the right answer varies from family to family and from woman to woman in any event; still, the data I’m referring to talks about women employed outside of their homes, so that’s what I’m going with. Which is to say, please, if you comment, don’t argue that working women are sinners, or that stay-at-home moms are wasting their lives. Because both arguments are stupid.

Now, on to the articles:

Working Women Generally

This article deals with women in the workforce generally. Some interesting findings: Utah has the lowest percentage of women in the workforce, at 45%. (The highest percentage is in D.C., with 52.6% but, as the article points out, D.C. is an outlier: it’s all urban, rather than a mix of urban and rural like the states. As such, from here on out, I’ll ignore D.C. which <SPOILER ALERT> across basically all of the categories tops the list for working women. Washington, Rhode Island, and Mississippi tie at 50.2% for the states with the largest percentage of women in the workforce.)

Utah also has the fifth-lowest average wages for women, at $24,830. Below Utah are Montana, Idaho, South Dakota, and Virginia. Maryland has the highest average wages for women, at $42,164.

Utah’s also at the bottom of the list for the percentage of total wages earned by women (which, based on the previous two numbers, makes sense): in Utah, women account for less than 30% of the total wages earned.

Women in the Creative Class

Richard Florida then moves on to what he calls the “creative class.” He lists professions that he includes as creative class professions here, but basically he’s talking about the jobs held by about one-third of the U.S. population that pay significantly better than the average salary and have weathered the recession better.

Before we get to Utah’s performance, I want to note that, even in this creative class (where they make up more than half the workforce), women get the short end of the economic stick. Creative class men earn, on average, about $82,000, while creative class women earn just over $48,000.[fn2]

So how do Utah creative class women do in comparison with the rest of the country? In terms of percentage of the creative class, Mississippi tops the list: 58.9% of the creative class are women. Utah is at the bottom, with 45.7% (and, in fact, is the only state in which women make up less than 50% of the creative class workers).

And, as with women in general, Utah creative class women have the fifth lowest average salary, at $35,872. This time, Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Idaho come in lower. By way of comparison (again, excluding D.C.), creative class women in New Mexico top the list, with $59,476.

And percentage of creative class wages? Again, Utah is the only state where the percentage is below 30%.

Using Florida’s criteria, Utah ranks last in the nation for creative class women; for women in general, though, it ranks 47th (coming in ahead of Wyoming, Idaho, and Virginia).[fn3]

What to make of this? I’m not entirely sure. I’m not as concerned about Utah women’s lower participation in the labor market; at least, I’m not convinced that we should try to push them into the formal labor market (although maybe we should discourage them less from entering it: in recent years, general authorities seem to have become less opposed to women’s working,[fn4] and it may be good for us, as a body of Saints, to follow their lead).

I think the wage disparity is bad, though. It isn’t just a Utah thing, of course, but it seems significant in Utah (that is, women make up about 45% of both the general workforce and the creative class workforce, but only earn something less than 30% of the income). Whatever we think about women in the workforce (and again, remember, please don’t rehash stale Mommy War arguments), we don’t have any religious incentive for paying women less than men. At the very least, I think this means we should be working to determine where this disparity comes from and, to the extent possible, fixing it.

[fn1] That’s not, of course, to make any normative judgment about the worth of funeral potatoes. It’s just to say, they weren’t part of my California heritage–the first time I ever ate them was post-law school in New York.

[fn2] I’ve heard all sorts of explanations for these wage disparities, from the idea that women earn lower wages because they leave the workforce for some period of time to have children, to women earn lower wages because they take different types of jobs than men, to women earn lower wages because of discrimination. I suspect that all play parts, and I suspect that none fully capture the causes of these wage disparities.

[fn3] Note that I realize that just wage numbers don’t account for everything: it’s possible that in Utah, you make less money, period. And Richard Florida is aware of that, too: he assigns a location premium to each location, etc. I’ve summarized numbers that I found interesting, but I haven’t given you his full run-down. For that, it really is worth clicking over to his articles; among other things, they have colored maps, and it was really the yellow Utah in a sea of orange and red in so many of the maps that first grabbed my attention.

[fn4] Before you find the Conference talk that totally shoots me down, let me say this: I have no doubt that there are such statements, even made recently. I’m talking about a more holistic impression that I get. I could be wrong, of course, but I don’t think I am.

41 Responses to Utah Women in the Labor Market

  1. Tim on November 4, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    I’ve noticed that professions that attract women–especially in education and nursing–pay very little in Utah as compared to other states. I imagine that’s a big part of the problem.

  2. Keri Brooks on November 4, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Interesting post. I think some of the disparity comes from a lack of mentoring opportunities for women. Especially in the professions, mentoring and networking are essential in order to get ahead. Most of those in a position to mentor are men, and there is a strong taboo in LDS culture against men and women who aren’t married to one another forming friendships. Even going out to lunch, which is a standard business practice, is frowned upon in some circles.

    I recall a study last year about female lawyers in Utah, and the results were pretty grim. Sexual harassment and sex discrimination are far too common, and the pay disparity is large. Here’s an article about it: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/11/02/survey-female-lawyers-in-utah-dont-have-it-easy/

    When I was in law school (SF Bay Area, where I still live and work), I was involved in my school’s chapter of the J. Reuben Clark Law Society. I was the only woman. My fellow students treated me as their equal, but the lawyers in the local chapter didn’t know what to do with me. It’s like my second X chromosome made me a different species in their eyes. So, I have hope that as my peers rise in their careers and the older generation retires that this problem will improve.

  3. Janell on November 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    My own experience with Mormon women in and from Utah is that they tend to pursue a degree they deem “useful in the home” rather than marketable or income-yielding. They also tend to take a jobs “just to keep busy” with no concern for advancement, for avoiding sexual (particularly pregnancy) discrimination, or for the pay it offers (given they view their income as “supplementary”). This creates a large group of women who are self-selected to not participate in the workforce or to be under valued in their jobs.

    #2 @Keri. When I worked in Utah it was crazy how subtly discriminatory the men in my office were when it came to simple things like going out to lunch or hallway conversations.

  4. E on November 4, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    It would be interesting to see numbers on how many hours per week women in the labor force work in different states; IME, a lot of Utah women work part time if they have the option.

  5. Alison Moore Smith on November 4, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    My own experience with Mormon women in and from Utah (myself included) is that they tended to pursue degrees that they were interested in and that they showed aptitude for. :)

    My best friend’s majors/current jobs: beauty school (artist for craft company), English/music/education (training and career programs coordinator at BYU-I), ??? (stay-at-home mom), advertising and public relations (scrapbook maven), law school (judge pro tem), law school (commercial/employment litigation), law school (stay-at-home mom), child and family development (university professor), history (middle school teacher), ??? (executive director direct sales personal book company), didn’t complete degree (escrow officer), math/music/english (alternative high school teacher, MoTab member (my sister)), business/humanities (website setup, accounting, public speaking (me)). My mom’s degree was in economics. (No, not home economics. That was my mother-in-law, who was not a Utahn.)

    That’s all I can think of off the top of my head, but I tend to find the Utah stereotypes funny — and quite varied from my own experience. Including those of funeral potatoes and jello. I’ve had a number of evangelical, Bible belt friends who were positively appalled that Mormons (Utahns?) have co-opted their cuisine. :)

    As for Utah stereotypes, yes, there is a Utah accent, but most people don’t really know what it is. :)

  6. Adam Greenwood on November 4, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Good for Utah.

    Lower wages probably represent entering the workforce later (because of childrearing and mothering), working more intermittently (for the same reason), or rational employer expectations that Utah women are particularly likely to quit because of childrearing and mothering.

    So good for Utah.

  7. Sam Brunson on November 4, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    rational employer expectations that Utah women are particularly likely to quit because of childrearing and mothering

    This strikes me as a particularly insidious assumption; paying lower wages because you assume somebody is going to quit because of her gender is gender discrimination.

  8. Ardis E. Parshall on November 4, 2011 at 7:20 pm

    This strikes me as a particularly insidious assumption; paying lower wages because you assume somebody is going to quit because of her gender is gender discrimination.

    Especially since, if that is the expectation and the reason for Utah’s notoriously low wages, it tends to punish all women and isn’t limited to those who do leave for families.

    But I’m not surprised that Adam Greenwood thinks that is good.

  9. Cameron N. on November 4, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    Agree with #1.

    Also, wages mean nothing unless we take them in context of cost of living.

  10. Tim on November 4, 2011 at 8:02 pm

    Obviously, cost of living on the coasts is higher. Minus the coasts, the cost of living in Salt Lake is about the average of other large and medium-sized cities. It’s not the deal it used to be.

  11. Cynthia L. on November 4, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    Cameron, what is your point? Do women in Utah have a lower cost of living than men in Utah?

  12. Bob on November 4, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Could it be__ that ‘funeral potatoes’ are connected to Idaho potatoes and Mormons?

  13. chris on November 4, 2011 at 10:30 pm

    I’d like to see these numbers weighted to compensate for cost of living. Other non-wage factors besides food/shelter expenses include health insurance. A healthcare plan thru BCBS in Ut is 300 a similar plan thru the NY BSBC provider is 800. Also Utah is 49th in the nation at avg. Teacher salaries. Last Stat I saw was men account for 25% of teachers in US. So this shows a couple things- Utah in general has lower wages, lower cost of living for everyone teacher or not.

  14. Sam Brunson on November 4, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    I don’t know how interesting the cost of living adjustments are, especially since the wages seem kind of random (that is, Utah’s toward the bottom, but neighboring Nevada and Colorado are both in the top ten).

    What’s interesting to me is the comparative wage gap. If I’ve done my calculations right (which, I acknowledge, is a big if), creative class women in Maine earn about 61 cents for every dollar earned by creative class men (that is, 46.3% of the income is earned by the 58.7% of the workforce that is made up of women, equalling .789; the remaining 53.7% of the income is earned by the remaining 41.3% of male workers, equalling 1.3. Divide both by 1.3 and you get .61 for women and 1 for men). The same calculation for Utah has creative class women earning 51 cents for every dollar earned by men. That’s what tells me something is off.

    (If I’ve calculated my wage gaps wrong, please let me know. And I know the numbers are rough: I’m not accounting for differences in experience, jobs, etc., but, frankly, this is a blog post and I don’t have the granular data that you’d need to be account for those things.)

  15. Sonny on November 4, 2011 at 11:10 pm

    An aside– As a California Mormon it has been my experience that funeral potatoes *are* Mormon. Perhaps it might be Western US Mormon.

  16. Sam Brunson on November 4, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Sonny, I grew up in San Diego. I am a lifelong member, the son of two members who both grew up in California. And, like I said, I never had funeral potatoes until post-law school in New York. I don’t deny that they’ve been exported—and California has a large number of former Utahns—but they didn’t play any part in the life of my Southern California family or my Southern California ward. (You can find a great piece on Mormon foodways here if you’re interested.)

  17. Sonny on November 4, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Sam,

    You are probably right about the Utah transplants to California. Our ward in the Central Valley had many, and so the that perhaps explains why I always saw funeral potatoes at funerals…..and about any other ward event where people bring food.

  18. Raymond Takashi Swenson on November 5, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Some of those numbers look odd to me, like Maryland topping one category with neighboring Virginia near the bottom, even though a major part of the econimies in both states is the DC metro area they split between them.

    The agglomeration of all income by women, mixing all job categories, and then trying to make comparisons across states is especially meaningless. Any survey that puts Mississippi at the top of a category is reflective of all sorts of other factors than gender.

    Utah is basically one big urban area. The cost if living is way less than California and Metro DC, but higher than Washington State outside Puget Sound. Obviously the major factor affecting women in Utah is having twice as many kids as women in other states. At some point it is not financially sensible to work and pay for child care at the same time. I think surveys like this tend to value wages as the only goal, and pay no attention to other factors affecting real satsfaction and wellbeing, not to mention factors like cost of living, taxes, realbtime invested in work including commute time (ehich gets horrendous in Califirnia). Additionally, to the extent women are competing for less skilled, lower wage and parttime jobs, the impact of competition with illegal immigrants.

    Then there is the fact that there are real differences generationally in levels of education, work force experience, and child rearing patterns, such that lumping together women from 20 to 65 blurs out meaningful comparisons.

    This is an occasion for me to offer again a method for valuing the work of homemakers with real money. Let’s pay moms (or dads) who stay at home and home school their kids 50% of the per pupil cost of educating them in public schools. Even in Utah, it would pay more than most parttime jobs after childcare costs, while teducing the tax burden on everyone. Yes, it would reduce the number of teaching jobs, or rather keep them steady as population grows, but those are low paying salaries anyway, for someone with a college degree. And a home schooling market that is funded will have needs for curriculum, and trainihg and advice, and services like educational field trips and supplemental help with math.

  19. Sam Brunson on November 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

    RTS,
    I don’t see the relevance to the current discussion of your homeschooling proposal. Because even if stay-at-home parents were paid to parent/teach, that doesn’t do anything to close the wage gap between the earnings of men and women in the labor force; it just takes more people (likely women) out of the formal economy Richard Florida was evaluating. That may be your goal, but it doesn’t speak to the gender imbalances felt by working women (both in Utah and in the U.S. generally).

    to the extent women are competing for less skilled, lower wage and parttime jobs, the impact of competition with illegal immigrants.

    But the creative class women wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) be competing for less-skilled, lower-wage jobs. That’s one of the points of evaluating them separately.

  20. el oso on November 5, 2011 at 9:34 am

    RTS,
    I think the federal job distribution has a lot to do with the Maryland/Virginia difference. The federal jobs in Maryland are more static and attract more women. The number one federal job in Virginia is the military (pentagon and other offices are there). The military is predominantly men and they move a lot. Any wives of these men will be taking lower paying jobs because they keep having to uproot and find another job due to their husbands frequent moves.

  21. Cynthia L. on November 5, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    RTS: “…and supplemental help with math.”

    Why do you mention math in particular? Because predominantly it is women who homeschool, and women aren’t as good at math, or, what?

    Your mention of it strikes in particular because, if our girls were better taught math (and not socially conditioned to think they can’t do it), we’d have much less of a wage gap.

  22. James Olsen on November 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Sam, you’ve got so much throat-clearing going on in this post, it was difficult to actually hear what you were saying. I think that this – completely aside from the content of the post – is rather revealing about there being something culturally wrong.

  23. Sam Brunson on November 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    James,
    I’m not sure I follow what you mean by “throat-clearing.” The caveats at the beginning? The footnotes at the end? Something in between? I’m curious what is revealing and what is culturally wrong (other, I hope, than what I’ve pointed out).

  24. lyle on November 5, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    Unless the results control for wages overall; what does this study really say? That, as Ardis notes, Utah wages are notoriously low. More ppl want to live in Utah than the job base can support. Its supply and demand. No mystery or discrimination required.

  25. Sam Brunson on November 5, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    lyle,
    No offense, but did you read the OP or the comments? You’re the third person to bring up wages in Utah being low across the board. Which is fine, but it has nothing to do with what I’m talking about.

    In any event, though, Cynthia L. responded to your particular objection in comment 11, and I did in 14.

  26. FoxyJ on November 5, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I live in UT, and I am a woman who works. Right now I have two part-time jobs and most of my coworkers are female (I am an adjunct instructor at a university and I work at a public library). All the teachers at my children’s school? Female. The principal? Male. Men in UT tend to stay away from teaching because it doesn’t pay enough to support a family on one income. I know that the cost of living in UT is “low”, but wages really haven’t kept up at all, especially in areas like education and government. I have seen public library positions (that require a master’s degree) offered at $25,000 a year. Yeah, we’re not New York, but that salary is laughable.

    The majority of women that I know who work are not the primary wage-earner for their families. Most of them tend to go into fields that are not as lucrative–why that is, I don’t know. For my active LDS friends, it’s usually based on pursuing a career based on what they enjoy or what they can do part-time, rather than sacrificing their desires to have a career that can support a family. I know a lot of Mormon men who feel pressure to not just provide for their family, but to provide at a high salary level. Among my non-LDS or inactive friends, I’ve noticed that the issue with employment seems to be a lack of education or training. After living in UT for some years I’ve noticed a cultural gap between LDS and non-LDS in standard of living and desire for certain types of employment. Many non-LDS women I know do not attend college or do vocational training (as do many of the non-LDS men). If you look at high-income/high-education areas of the Salt Lake Valley, they are also the areas that are more highly LDS.

    One last point–Utah is a very young state and has a high rate of marriage and childbearing among young women. For most of these women, working just isn’t practical. Especially given the low wages here, paying for child care will wipe out most of your income once you get past 2 or 3 kids that are too little to be in school.

  27. meg on November 5, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    It’s important for everyone to realize that the more education one has, especially women, the more flexible are their employment options. My dentist is a woman with her own practice who earns about $400,000 a year in Colorado
    full time. If she wanted to work part-time to be with children at home or whatever reason, if she worked 1 or 2 days a week and brought in other women dentists in the practice, her earnings are better per hour than other women who have chosen less professional fields (hair stylist, teacher, piano teacher, house cleaner, secretary, etc.) and wind up working either the same or longer hours for much less money. The more education one has, the more flexible are their options–including when to work and the hours.

  28. Bob on November 6, 2011 at 5:37 am

    meg,
    I don’t see the ‘flexibility’ for your dentist. If she wants the money, she must be a dentist or part time dentist. It took a lot of time and money to become a dentist. I see her as a 1-3% of Utah women. What about the rest?

  29. Naismith on November 6, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I did read the articles linked to, and was delighted to see such good use of data from the American Community Survey, a research endeavor that congressional republicans perennially want to slash.

    They make the point that a factor may be, as meg points out in 27, the issue of part-time work.

    Health care is listed in their “creative class” professions, and as having one of the largest gaps between men and women according to this earlier analysis to which he links
    http://www.theatlanticcities.com/jobs-and-economy/2011/11/income-disparity-women-creative-class/359/

    Is this due to women being in inherently lower paying jobs, or to women working part-time? For example, my optometrist is actually a team of women who each work 20-30 hours a week. I once asked what they did during the public school spring break week, and she smiled and said they closed the office on Wednesday, and each took two days, so they had time for a family trip from Fri-Wed or Wed-Sun.

    And I know lots of women who work part-time as nurses (including the highly paid nurse anesthetists who make more than some MDs), physical therapists, pharmacists, and other kinds of tech work.

    For most of my career, I have earned a salary in the low $30s, right in line with the average salary they bemoan for women. But I was only working 20-30 hours per week in those jobs. Which left me time to also do a lot of work at home, including those money-saving homemaking things. One of our family mantras is, “A penny saved is two pennies earned.” Because it isn’t taxed nor tithed.

    If Mormon women do indeed earn less, how much of that phenomenon is that they were duped into not getting training that would have helped them earn more? And how much is that they are smart enough to realize what a rat-race that a two-income family can be? They are clever enough to know that for many families it may be better to can tomatoes with a toddler taking a bite out of every one, rather than work more hours away from the home in order to buy canned tomatoes.

    When I was at BYU in the late 70s, the advice I got was to get the most education I could, in order to spend the least time away from family. I found that to be very solid advice.

  30. Bob on November 6, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    Naismith:
    Education doesn’t pay much___training does. (Note:the Church never says to women to get the best training you can). Church males like to get training in law and be CPAs for the money. My path was to get an ‘education’ then join a corporation that would train me to do a job and had open advancements for me. My wife ‘trained’ to be an RN.
    The first half of our marriage, she always earned the best money. The second half, I did.

  31. Alison Moore Smith on November 6, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    RTS #18:

    Let’s pay moms (or dads) who stay at home and home school their kids 50% of the per pupil cost of educating them in public schools.

    Sam, I think RTS’s point about closing the gap is that if women at home doing what public school teachers are paid to do, then paying them brings up their income — and shows the monetary value of their work.

    That said, as a homeschooler, I don’t want other people’s money going to my educational choice. I would, however, love to not have to be taxed (as much) for the bloated school system.

    And a home schooling market that is funded will have needs for curriculum, and trainihg and advice

    Having homeschooled for 18 years, I can tell you the best “training and advice” comes from other homeschoolers. The most laughable thing I’ve seen in these years was a group of school teachers who took it upon themselves to form a homeschool advisory service. As if we left schools so that we could get public school teachers to tell us what we should do.

    …and services like educational field trips and supplemental help with math.

    Um…I don’t need supplemental math help. Thanks very much. I think most school teachers do, however. But that’s a threadjack we can have another day. :)

  32. Sam Brunson on November 6, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    Thanks Naismith. I’m sure that part-time work explains some portion of the wage gap. I don’t have any data, but is there any reason to think women in Utah are more likely than non-Utahns to work part-time? A lot of mothers at my daughter’s school (in Chicago) work part-time, and I knew several women in New York who were part-time attorneys. If a larger percentage of Utah’s working women work part-time, that may help explain Utah’s bigger wage gap, but that’s a big if.

    Alison, notwithstanding RTS, I’d just as soon this not become a homeschooling discussion.

  33. david packard on November 6, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    So what are the most likely causes of the relatively large wage gap in UT? Here are three that seem to be most responsible.

    - more frequent assumptions made by UT employers that women will be less likely to be otherwise profitable in the long run due to child-bearing and similar responsibilities

    - the more-freequent and longer-lasting career interruptions among UT women (on average), resulting from having more children on average.

    - the same cause that is affecting nearby states of ID, WY, and MT, which may be totally unrelated to Mormon culture.

  34. Alison Moore Smith on November 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm

    That’s fine. You didn’t say that earlier, you said you didn’t understand how his suggestion related. I was just giving a possible answer.

  35. Sam Brunson on November 6, 2011 at 5:45 pm

    Sorry Alison; I’d responded a little more substantively, then took out the substantive stuff so that I didn’t take the thread too far off; I apparently didn’t edit carefully.

  36. James Olsen on November 6, 2011 at 10:57 pm

    Sam – sorry for the belated response. Yes, the caveats (throughout) and the footnotes. But not just their existence, the specifically “Now hear me out and don’t import this or that discussion/debate/controversy, I’m just pointing to data, no conclusions or implications here” sort tone they all take. That’s what I meant by throat clearing. What’s wrong is that this seems to be a perfectly appropriate, perhaps even necessary way of going about it. I find that dysfunctional. I think our hyper-polemicized, hyper-sensitive, almost-impossible-to-say-something-without-it-being-skewed-or-read-uncharitably context is deeply unfortunate and a serious problem. And I think it stems in large part from the clear discrepancies in the church between men & women’s treatment historically and the various and sundry ways in which many of us try today to own our Mormonism without wanting to accept the on-the-face-of-it partiality of our history/doctrine/practices. We’re in a time of serious tension on the issue, moving (I want to optimistically claim) toward a much needed cultural resolution; but we’re just not there yet; right now we just have tension everywhere.

  37. Sam Brunson on November 6, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    Thanks, James.

    What’s wrong is that this seems to be a perfectly appropriate, perhaps even necessary way of going about it.

    I don’t know how necessary the various caveats, etc., are. To some extent, they’re just my quirky writing style (I got into footnotes reading David Foster Wallace, and law reviews footnote extensively). Also, they’re a result of my first several postings being about tax issues; tax brings out the crazies (or maybe brings out the crazy in some normal people). As a result, since then I’ve tried to anticipate some issues people will have that I’m not interested in pursuing. I don’t know that this is a result so much of Mormonism, though, as it is of anonymous Internet commenting.

  38. meg on November 7, 2011 at 4:17 am

    Bob, the flexibility is her choice as she is self-employed. She can choose to work as little or as much as she chooses. If she has no children she could work full time easily and earn a lot. She will still earn way more if she worked one or two days a week, way more than other LDS women who are not highly skilled and work 9 to 5 5 days a week.

    It’s the same with lawyers. One hour can yield $500. An elementary school teacher, a secretary, house cleaner (and these are important necessary jobs)
    a woman will have to work longer hours to make $500.

    I’m saying that if women want to be at home with their families more and less at work–well, the best route is to become highly skilled so she can work less and earn more money. It’s “working smart”.

  39. Bob on November 7, 2011 at 4:47 am

    Meg,
    To me (IMO), you are only saying the rich have more flexibilty than the poor. Most people are not rich or highly skilled. How do we get them to have more flexibility?
    Again, IMO, more flexibility, for most, has come more by way of labor laws than by education alone.

  40. Naismith on November 7, 2011 at 8:56 am

    “Thanks Naismith. I’m sure that part-time work explains some portion of the wage gap. I don’t have any data, but is there any reason to think women in Utah are more likely than non-Utahns to work part-time? ….If a larger percentage of Utah’s working women work part-time, that may help explain Utah’s bigger wage gap, but that’s a big if.”

    I really don’t know much about Utah; I never really lived there, just dropped in for school for less than 3 years. But I have been a Mormon for 30 years, and the OP was upfront that this was really about Mormons.

    And we do know that statistically, LDS women have larger families. This may translate to more time off for pregnancy/childrearing.

    So I have to think that part of the observed lower pay rate is not oppression of Utah women, but rather LDS mothers making a smart choice to sequence work and childrearing, or pursue a career on a part-time basis.

    Yes, LDS women are not the only one to make such choices. But I have gotten little support from non-member female mentors and it isn’t taught as an option by career counselors at my daughter’s State U. Whereas it was at BYU. So I do think it has to be considered as one of many issues that may influence this.

    In this focus on salaries, lost in the shuffle may be the reality that how much one can keep is equally important to a family’s financial well-being. By learning and implementing the church-promoted ideas about provident living, a family may be much better off. Depending on the tax bracket, number of kids, etc., it may be that working at home for $0 is a better choice for many moms, for a season. When that gets averaged in, it will depress statistics.

    Which is not in any way justifying the rock-bottom education salaries in Utah, or an employer’s illegal consideration of whether a female applicant might quit due to pregnancy.

  41. meg on November 9, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Bob– Labor laws protect workers, thankfully, from abuse in the workplace. But I don’t see flexibility in someone having to be at a
    specific workplace from 8 to 5 daily with two breaks and an hour for lunch. It’s the inflexibility that causes the Church to prefer mothers not work outside the home. Education is what can give flexibility.There’s a reason our Church has the Perpetual Education Fund. I come from an immigrant family 4 generations ago– poor on both sides. My grandparents slaved in mines so their kids would not have to. They went to school. Those kids grew up and graduated from H.S. to work in factories. Their kids went to college, with family help or on student loans or worked their way through, they had better job opportunities–teachers,, journalists, accountants, etc. Their kids went to graduate school, on loans or worked their way through. They became lawyers, doctors and dentists,professors,psychologists,
    business owners,stockbrokers, etc. Doctors can work 4 days a week. Many young female physicians form practices and timeshare jobs to be at home with children. Lawyers can often work what hours they choose and at home. I don’t know that any professionals who work part time are
    “wealthy” but they are comfortable and it was because they chose to get a higher education and no, they were not wealthy before they went to college. I know not all lawyers are rich. Psychologists aren’t rich and they can choose their hours.

    Women who have no education have no choices–especially if something happens to the husband.