By Bonnie A. Robinson (ATEC)March 21, 2016
U.S. ARMY DUGWAY PROVING GROUND, Utah--Dr. Susan R. Madsen, a professor of management at Utah Valley University and an expert in women's studies having created the Utah Women in Leadership Project in 2013 spoke at the Dugway Proving Ground Women's History Month observation March 14 at the Community Club in English Village. More than 50 people attended.
Madsen is a top tier speaker who advances women in leadership not only in Utah, but on a global level. In 2015 she chaired International Leadership Association's women in leadership conference and recently co-hosted The Women and Leadership Think Tank with top scholars from around the world.
"This is a call for action," Madsen said. "Utah women often feel they don't have a voice. Let us look to the rich legacy other Utah women have left us and what we need to do to follow in their footsteps."
Madsen said it is surprising, with all the Woman's History Month information available, that the legacy and sacrifices of Utah's "epic pioneer past" are rarely mentioned.
Madsen pointed to Emily S. Rich and the early adoption of the Women's Suffragette Association of Utah.
"The women of that time were encouraged to express their own views and encouraged not to wait for others to bring their concerns forward," she said.
Madsen said Utah was the second state to ratify women's right to vote in the United States.
"We should still be on the cutting edge of this involvement, but times have changed in Utah and surprisingly not for the better," she added.
"In 1996 there were just slightly more Utah women than men that voted. In 2004, 52 percent of women voted and 48 percent of men. Every year since, women voters dropped. Utah now has the largest voting gender gap in the nation," she said.
Madsen felt this is due to a decline in women's education opportunity.
She noted, "There is a six percent difference between males and females for a [Bachelor of Arts or Sciences]."
Madsen's information starkly contrasts recent national voter turnout.
Recent women's turnout rates have equaled or exceeded voter turn outs for men, according to Center for American Women in Politics and a study by Rutgers University. Women constitute more than half of the population, yet cast between four and seven million more votes than men.
Gender impacts national issues. A 2012 Gallup survey reports Women's votes reflect issues of social safety nets, cost of education, raising taxes for the rich, and the increasing cost of healthcare. Madsen said Utah women show similar concerns.
The Utah Labor Force mirrors Madsen's research.
In 2012, roughly 61 percent of Utah women over the age of 16 participated in the labor market. But Madsen noted many of Utah's female workers work part-time from home as bookkeepers, in childcare or as entrepreneurs of home businesses.
Madsen's concerns support national findings.
According to the Women's Bureau of the Department of Labor, women comprise 47 percent of the total U.S. workforce, or 124 million women 16 years and over who work or are looking for work. The Bureau projects a 51 percent increase between now and 2018.
Nationally, nearly half of women are employed, with 43 percent full-time workers and 13 percent part time. Employment is highly age related and peaks at a 30 to 49 year bracket, meaning 73 percent of working women are employed in this age bracket.
Jobs drop with age to 13 percent of women 65 and older in the work force, according to Gallup report.
The average working woman works outside the home and cares for children in three out of 10 households, Madsen noted.
At Dugway, 24 percent of the workforce is female, and most positions are in administration, according to the Civilian Personnel Advisory Center's 2015 statistics. No family information was available.
Madsen's studies point to research that can introduce and strengthen ways for men and women to work together.
She shows a combination of men and women provides the best result to bring inclusiveness, nurturing, and integrity to a business environment. But she noted men receive far more leadership opportunities than women, who have a lack of prospects to perform higher authority duties.
"This leaves women struggling to envision themselves as leaders and believing they are less qualified even when they are not," she said.
Madsen added that the difference is "striking" when it comes to asking for a promotion. Between 50 to 60 percent of men have the skill sets when they apply for a promotion.
"Women feel they need to own 100 percent of the skills needed before they apply for a position," she said, attributing the difference to women's lack of confidence in their abilities, and to men's belief in their capabilities to qualify for the job.
Madsen said recent studies show a 30 percent tipping point in female management, meaning that a business won't see change until Women hit that magic percentage point.
"We need to make a substantial change in the business culture", she said. "We must build not only their skills, but their confidence."
Madsen challenged leaders to provide "more mentors" and "tap more women for leadership" positions.
"This matters! It can change lives!" she said.