Schools continue to struggle more than ever to find qualified, effective leaders. Hence, finding, preparing, and supporting future educational leaders – women and men—is imperative for the future of Utah.
The Status of Utah American Indian Women
In 2021, the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute reported that “Utah ranks as the 34th most racially and ethnically diverse state in the nation, with 22% of the state identifying as other than non-Hispanic White.” As the state continues to become more diverse, it is critical that the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) conducts and reports research focused on women of color. As the UWLP focuses on strengthening the impact of all Utah girls and women, research that increases our understanding of the status and experiences of girls and women within all social and identity groups—including race and ethnicity—is crucial. This research snapshot is the fifth in a series of five that detail the available data on Utah women of each Census race/ ethnic category: Pacific Islander, Asian, Black, Hispanic/ Latino, and American Indian/Alaskan Native women.
Setting the Stage
Often, research entities publish data on gender and race separately, leaving a gap of information and understanding on the intersection of gender and race/ethnicity. Yet, separate data do not allow the community, decision makers, and policy makers the depth of information needed to design programs and policies that meet the diverse spectrum of needs of all Utah women. This snapshot highlights the gender and race intersection for Utah American Indian women. It highlights both the available data as well as the gaps in the information that could, if filled, help local and state decision makers and leaders to understand and address the needs of all Utah girls and women.
This research uses the US Census description for “American Indian or Alaska Native,” which is “a person having origins in any of North or South America (including Central America) and who maintains tribal affiliations or community attachment.”
Available demographic data on American Indian Utah women include population size, household size, family household type, marital status, and religious affiliation.
- Population Size: The Utah American Indian population has been relatively stable over time, comprising around 1.0% of the Utah population.
- Household Size: The average household size of American Indian women in Utah is 3.3 people, which is larger than the average of 2.8 for American Indian women across the US, 3.0 for Utah women, and 2.5 for women in the US.
- Family Household Type: Utah American Indian households consist of 56.0% married-couple families (compared to 81.7% of all Utah families and 36.2% of US American Indians).
- Marital Status: The share of American Indian women in Utah who are married (37.8%) is lower than shares for all US women (48.7%) and all Utah women (56.9%).
This section reviews age-adjusted data for access to healthcare, physical health, reproductive health and wellbeing, and mental health.
- Access to Healthcare: American Indian women in Utah are more likely to lack health insurance (13.3%) than Utah women in general (11.2%).
- Physical Health: Utah American Indian women are more likely to receive most preventative care and less likely to experience poor health outcomes compared to all Utah women.
- Reproductive Health and Wellbeing: The birth rate per 1,000 American Indian women in Utah is 11.0, which is similar to the rate of 10.6 for Utah women generally.
- Mental Health: According to the data, Utah American Indian women fare slightly worse in mental health outcomes than Utah women generally.
Education, Income, and Employment
- Education: American Indian women in Utah end their education with a high school diploma (33.2%) more than Utah women generally (23.8%), and, transversely, they have lower rates of attaining bachelor’s degrees (11.2% vs. 29.0% of all Utah women).
- Income: The median personal income for Utah American Indian women ($12,719) is lower than the median for Utah women generally ($19,245), similar to national trends where US women have a higher median income ($23,106) than US American Indian women ($16,480).
- Employment: The Women’s Business Center of Utah reports that, of their majority of women clients (95.0%), only 1.0% are American Indian.
The data in this report provide a snapshot of the existing disparities in several areas specifically related to Utah American Indian women. It also provides a starting point for meaningful, targeted change. Although we were able to find existing data regarding the general demographics, health, wellbeing, education, and income and employment of Utah American Indian women, usable information was not available in many of the categories we hoped to collect, such as housing, transportation, domestic violence, unpaid labor, caregiver status, childcare accessibility, civic engagement, and food insecurity. This demonstrates both a data gap and an opportunity for Utah universities, government, nonprofit, and other entities to do more to collaborate, gather, and report quality data that can help government, education, business, and nonprofit leaders and decision markers understand more deeply the circumstances and needs of Utah’s American Indian women. More generally, gender, race, and ethnicity, along with other important demographic data, can help Utahns create a more inclusive, accessible, and equitable culture for all.
Overall, Utahns can increase equity and equality within the state by utilizing data to recognize the impact of gender and race in our everyday lives. As we provide greater access and opportunity to all residents, the state can use these data to better utilize the talents, ideas, and resources that American Indian women have to offer the state, employers, and Utah families. It continues to be important to remember that when we strengthen the impact of all Utah residents, including American Indian women, we can strengthen Utah’s workplaces, educational institutions, communities, and the state as a whole.
To learn more about the status of Utah American Indian women, read the full snapshot.