Advocate encourages shift on how we view women’s education

Lauren Barney | Staff Writer
Photo courtesy of UVU Marketing

Susan R. Madsen, an advocate for women’s education, stressed that a shift needs to be made in how the role of education is viewed in the lives of women at the Utah Women & Education Forum on Oct. 27.
The forum focused on why Utah women are either not attending college or failing to finish a degree program. Madsen, who is the director of the Utah Women and Education Initiative and a professor of leadership and ethics at the Woodbury School of Business, presented a research study highlighting key findings and highlighted key findings.
“It is critical to continue to talk to women,” Madsen said. “The more we understand, the better we can be as influencers.” said Madsen.
The study consisted of 245 Utah women in a focus group setting with both survey and interview- like questions. About 80 percent of the participants were LDS. The sample was not random which, Madsen pointed out, is a limitation of the study, but the data gathered provides a snapshot of what is going on in the educational realm for women in Utah.
Pointing out the many benefits that come from formal postsecondary education, Madsen set the scene for audience members. She explained that not many young women are seeing the big picture of education and the advantages that can come—from health benefits to self- development.
According to the study, the two main reasons that Utah women are not continuing their education are financial concerns and because they are uncertain about what they want to do.
Madsen believes, however, that if more people were to encourage young women from the start to have aspirations for the future goals, more will see the importance of women’s education.
“We need to take the moments with girls and tell them they can do it,” said Madsen said.
Furthermore, Madsen encouraged each audience member to get involved with the conversation on Utah women’s education. She provided several different ideas for becoming more informed, she wants to see everyone take a larger part in the lives of young women and be able to be an advocate for education. She believes that this often starts with facilitating an environment where girls feel that others believe in their abilities.
“Sometimes we think people are amazing but we never tell them,” Madsen said. “But when we do, we can change lives.”
Extending the idea of being a mentor to young women on education, Madsen concluded the session by encouraging the audience to be a mentor to young women.
“Let’s build off this energy to help more girls and women become who they have the potential to become… All of us can assist in some way to help more young women do just that.”

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