Here’s a little fable about two working women in Utah.
Jane grew up knowing that she wanted to be a mother. She thought she would marry a rich man and stay home to take care of her adorable children. With that future ahead of her, she thought she had little need for an education or a career. She got married a few years out of high school to the man of her dreams and her family soon included a charming baby girl.
Time for a reality check. Most married women with children work, even in Utah.
To make ends meet, Jane found herself back in the workforce. With no post-high school training, she found a job at the local discount store as a cashier. After working very hard, she eventually earned the Utah average wage for that occupation—$9.00 an hour. She had few benefits and no retirement plan.
To make enough money, Jane had to spend 40 hours a week on the job—mostly when her husband wasn’t working so he could take care of the baby. Her low wages made child care quite unaffordable. She didn’t see much of her husband, but did contribute to the family’s finances. Jane grossed $360 a week—before taxes and other deductions.
Jane’s best friend from high school, Susan, also grew up knowing that she wanted a family. But she realized that she would probably be working outside the home like her mother and other adult women that she knew. She chose a high-paying career, finished college and went to work as a chemical engineer. She got great pay, received wonderful benefits, and could count on a retirement income—when that day finally came. Plus, she knew she was protected in the event that she needed to provide for herself and her family. After establishing her career, Susan got married and had a bouncing baby boy.
Susan’s employer valued her work skills and was willing to let Susan cut back her hours to spend more time with her baby. After starting a family, she worked only 20 hours a week earning the Utah average wage for chemical engineers—$45 an hour. So, while Jane was making $360 working a grueling 40 hours each week (on her feet all day), Susan worked only 20 hours a week and grossed $900 a week—two-and-a-half times more money than Jane for half the hours. Plus, Susan had enough spare cash to hire out her least favorite household duties.
You get my point. A woman’s career and educational preparation contributes dramatically to her ability to manage work and home—not to mention improve her family’s economic well-being. In fact, when it comes to wages, academic studies suggest that education is more important for women than men. And, remember, most women do work outside the home—yes, even in Utah.
Next Friday: Part 2 of this post about women's education and employment, with some surprising Utah statistics