What Women's Networks and Groups Can Do to Strengthen the Impact of Utah Girls and Women

Utah is full of engaged, passionate individuals who frequently ask the question, “What can I personally and/or professionally do to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women?” To provide answers to that question, the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) hosted a series of “think tank” gatherings to collect best practices for various stakeholders interested in supporting Utah girls and women. This idea sheet is based on a 2018 gathering of 65 leaders of women’s networks, groups, and organizations in Utah in many arenas. It provides an overview of opportunities to influence cultural attitudes in ways that are relevant in all settings, followed by specific ideas and solutions to advance and empower women and girls in more distinct environments.

Culture

Several major themes emerged as areas where women’s groups can positively influence Utah culture in order to strengthen the impact of girls and women. Influencers can help their communities to do the following: 

  • Rethink gender stereotypes and rigid or limiting roles
  • Help girls and women develop confidence, increase aspirations, and become aware of possibilities
  • Work to reduce both blatant and subtle forms of sexism
  • Address additional challenges for women of color, the LGBTQ community, and members of diverse religious, ideological, and socioeconomic groups

Business & Professional

In addition to broad efforts, women’s groups can work to address issues within their own spheres. Women’s business networks and professional organizations can help women thrive in workplace settings:

  • Advocate for professional innovations and solutions that are conducive to women’s success, including high quality childcare, flexible work schedules and career pathways, and mentoring programs.
  • Provide and facilitate training and professional development for women at all stages of careers, including young professionals, returning workers, and executives. Include skill-building in negotiation, selfadvocacy, and technical expertise.
  • Contribute to a climate of “abundance” that normalizes women’s success and reduces women’s negative interactions with each other.

Education

Leaders of women’s groups know that education is key to strengthening the impact of girls and women, from the earliest ages through college. Leaders can do the following:

  • Work with K–12 educators and administrators to teach girls to explore and aspire, focusing on motivation and positive communication.
  • Emphasize that higher education is an investment rather than an expense, and teach young women to save money for college.
  • Create and sponsor extracurricular programs in key areas such as communication, financial literacy, balancing personal and professional goals, and developing a leadership identity.

Community & Nonprofit

Utah has many organizations working for the good of girls and women in a wide range of areas. They can influence and empower their communities:

  • Identify challenges and work toward solutions for issues that affect many Utah women, including poverty, education, wage gaps, sexual violence, mental health, substance use disorders, and social justice inequities of all kinds.
  • Communicate and collaborate with other Utah organizations to maximize resources, reduce overlapping services, and identify gaps in order to best serve their communities.
  • Work directly with girls and women within their spheres to raise awareness, broaden perspectives, and inspire self-determination.

Politics

Utah ranks poorly in terms of women running for and serving in political office. Women’s political groups and networks can make a difference by doing the following:

  • Educate all Utahns on the critical importance of having more women serving in public office.
  • Promote and expand training programs for women on how to run for office and win.
  • Leverage networks and resources to help women fundraise more effectively and make connections with power brokers and influencers.

To learn more about What Womens Networks and Groups Can Do to Strengthen the Impact of Utah Girls and Women read the entire brief.

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