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Utah Government Employees Experience Pay Disparities Based On Gender And Race, New Study Shows

An illustration of a woman and men on either ends of a scale with money.
An analysis of Utah’s state agencies shows women and people of color are underrepresented in leadership positions. That impacts their pay, compared to men and white people.

In recent years, Utah has ranked as one of the worst states in the country for the pay gap between men and women.

The Utah Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget released a study Monday analyzing pay disparities among executive branch employees.

It found men at state agencies make 21% more than women and white people make 17% more than people of color.

But Nate Talley, deputy director of GOPB, said that leaves out a lot of details. He said when you take into account factors like job type and how long someone has been employed, the outcomes change.

“Those pay gaps shrink to 2.2% for men and about half a percent for non minorities,” Talley said. “Neither of those are statistically significant, so essentially the pay gap goes to essentially zero.”

Even though that difference is numerically negligible in the study, Robbyn Scribner said it’s important to recognize the impact.

“It's still significant,” she said. “It matters to that woman who's making a little bit less.”

Scribner is the co-founder of Tech-Moms, an organization trying to help mothers access opportunities in the tech industry. She’s also a researcher for the Utah Women and Leadership Project.

The study also determined women and people of color are underrepresented in higher-paying jobs with more decision-making power, like department heads.

She said in Utah, caregiving can be a big barrier for women who want to advance their careers.

“Making sure that women have adequate child care so that they can really gain the skills and get the promotions and do all the things that they need to do to advance to those higher executive levels where they're paid better,” she said. “That's a huge issue in the state.”

She said women might also drop out of their careers early because of workplace culture, like bias or a lack of mentors.

“Women leave not just because they have to,” she said. “They leave because they don't see opportunities ahead for them. They don't see a pathway to success.”

Next, the Utah Department of Human Resource Management said it will evaluate how the state recruits employees for leadership positions.

Emily Means is a government and politics reporter at KUER.
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