‘She Talks Utah’ panel features prominent Utah women

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Photo by Kim Raff

With the possibility of having the first female president, there has never been a greater focus on women and leadership in the U.S. The role of women in leadership was discussed on the first annual “She Talks Utah,” organized by the Utah Women & Leadership Project at UVU Oct. 25.

The event featured five prominent Utah women from various backgrounds and sectors, such as government, religion, business, education and journalism. Rep. Mia Love was one of the featured speakers on the panel discussion.

The speakers focused on why they lead in their community, and they encouraged women of all ages to become leaders in their industry.

Deneece G. Huftalin, president of Salt Lake Community College, spoke on the importance of education for women as well as the disparities among women and men in the work force.

According to the Institute of Women’s Policy Research, female full-time workers make only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, making a gender wage gap of 20 percent.

“The population is 50-50, and then you start looking at CEO’s, judges, politicians, you start looking at people in positions of power, and it’s not proportional, you can see the gap,” Huftalin said when asked about the wage gap among men and women in the workforce.

Huftalin said that leadership positions have been socially constructed to be filled by men, which is the reason why women tend to shy away from leadership positions.

“Most of us think of leadership in a pretty gendered way,” Huftalin said.

Love spoke on her Haitian parents and the influence they had on her in becoming a leader.

Love declined questions from The Review.

Also speaking at the event was Neill F. Marriot, a member of the Young Women general presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mary Nickles, Emmy-award winning news anchor for KUTV, and Mary Crafts-Homer, president and CEO of Culinary Crafts.

According to Bonnie Mortensen, the coordinator for the Utah Women & Leadership Project, about 700 people attended the two-hour event.

“Having female professors like Dr. Madsen, she teaches my leadership class, and I totally see her as a leader, and as an example, and I feel that having more female mentors and leaders will encourage women to become leaders,” Virginie Anderson said, a business management student.