Utah has the 4th-worst pay gap between men and women. Is Mormonism responsible?

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woman workingAccording to Business Insider magazine, Utah ranks fourth in the nation for having the largest pay gap between men and women working full-time.

The magazine reports:

This map, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, shows the gap between the 2012 median earnings for a year-round full-time male worker and a similar female worker, as a percentage of the median female’s earnings.

Utah ranks 46th out of 50 states.

How responsible is Mormonism, the religion of 62% of Utah’s people, for this gender discrepancy?

Before we explore that question let’s take a quick look at what the census study says about women in Utah — and what it doesn’t. I particularly want to point out that this data is not chronicling a divergence in “equal pay for equal work.”

In other words, no one is claiming from this data that women in Utah who are, say, high school history teachers with 22 years of experience are making 42.5% less than male high school history teachers who also have 22 years of experience in the same school system.

But the findings are troubling nonetheless. Women in Utah make 42.5% less income than men. In Wyoming, the nation’s worst offender, the chasm is 56.6%.

What accounts for the persistent gap between women and men, which is clearly worse in some places than in others? Economists point to several reasons:

1) The most significant factor accounting for the wage gap is women’s greater tendency to leave full-time work for years at a time to care for children at home. The long-term effect on American families may be positive, but the long-term effect on women’s earnings is disastrous. One key thing to note in all the discussion this week about equal pay is that the average may be that women earn “77 cents on the dollar” nationwide. However, “single, childless women earn 95 cents for every dollar a single, childless man makes, which is hardly the stuff of campaign slogans.” In other words, American women who never leave the workplace for any length of time have almost achieved wage parity with men.

2) Another cause — one that is less significant in the beginning but can add up over time — is women’s failure to negotiate and renegotiate their salary. Some studies have shown that even when women work longer hours and make fewer errors at work than men, they are less likely to ask for a raise or promotion. And when they do ask, they’re likely to settle for less money than a male employee would. In 2012, the Freakonomics podcast reported that the male advantage disappears when employers make it clear that women are expected to negotiate. The New York Times also reports that it disappears when companies provide employees with hard data on what others are making.

3) Finally, women cluster in careers that pay less than those embraced by men. As The Economist noted this week, men in the United States “are 87% of engineers but only 16% of teachers.” Social work, early childhood education, and visual arts — all fields dominated by women — simply do not pay as well as the STEM fields still dominated by men.

Those three factors help explain the persistence of the wage gap in the United States despite many advances made by women. But having said all that, why are women’s earnings in Utah so much worse than, say, in Vermont?

Because Utah has a higher percentage of stay-at-home mothers. In fact, it’s the highest in the nation, according to one 2007 study.

Utah mothers are also more likely to have larger families, resulting in more years out of the work force: Utah leads the nation in the number of births per woman (2.5 on average), whereas Vermont is the very lowest, with a fertility rate of 1.6.

What is the culpability of Mormonism in creating the wage gap in Utah? Of course it is a significant factor. When nearly two-thirds of the people in a state are members of a religion that has repeatedly and explicitly encouraged mothers to stay out of the work force, it can’t help but have a deleterious effect on women’s earnings.

Less clear from a quantitative standpoint is whether or how Mormonism might play a role in the other two factors. For example, does Mormon culture encourage a meekness in women that might make them reluctant to ask for a raise or a promotion? And does it steer them toward lower-paying careers in “helping” professions such as teaching and nursing?

  • Tammy

    Good article, Jana. Female dependency is highly encouraged by the LDS faith in *so* many ways. Dependent on a spouse for celestial glory, dependent on a spouse for finances, dependent on a spouse for priesthood blessings if one believes in and needs such. Over time, dependency can be crippling to the psyche, particularly if it is encouraged from birth. This is neither good for women or their children. When a Mom can take care of herself and more importantly, when a Mom *knows* she can take care of herself, she will be better able to take care of her children no matter what decisions she and her spouse decide to make related to careers and finances. As a former member who still has fond feelings and good memories of church and friendships from it, this is my biggest beef. Mormonism encourages female dependency and lures girls with the myth that having a sugar daddy will make for an ideal life. Mormonism promotes the Cinderella Complex, which sticks with many women for a lifetime. Does that complex lead to lower wages in Utah? Entitlement to dependency seems like it would indeed have an impact on women’s ability to get out there and compete for financial independence.

  • Frank

    Glad to see there really isn’t much of an issue with equal work, equal pay. Thanks for providing clarity.

  • I would say that the answer to your final question is an unequivocal yes. Young women in the LDS church are regularly taught that if they MUST work, they should choose a “flexible” profession that will allow them to stay home with their children as much as possible. Teaching and nursing are the two classic examples that are almost always cited in these lessons.

    The answer to your other question is a little more nuanced. But I would guess that the Mormon expectation of always deferring to men in leadership positions as well as the cultural emphasis on women serving without asking for rewards or external validation might very well play a role in Mormon women feeling less comfortable with asking for raises.

  • mofembot

    One thing the LDS church could do is ensure that women are paid on par with men at BYU and as church employees. The gaps there are all too real, and women’s chances for advancement in the church office building are far fewer, especially if it involves supervising men.

    Of course, the LDS church could and should also be a LOT more generous with how it pays its employees, period — and especially with regard to how it compensates those working for Deseret Industries. …After all, the church immediately receives back in tithing 10% of what it pays its workers, and that has a significant impact.

    Not holding my breath, alas.

  • Doug

    Many Mormons are conceded, hateful and bigoted. On Easter my service dog and I were denied access to Easter service by clergy. I have been attending LDS services at that church for several months with my service dog, with no problems. If possible I try to come early and sit in the back so people that have anxieties or allergies can sit elsewhere. On Easter I think it was the Bishop, in violation of the ADA the Bishop demanded paperwork to show my dog was a service dog, and insisted that I could not attend with my service dog unless I produce paperwork. I will not attend that church anymore because they are hateful bigots that choose not to abide by Jesus’s teachings, God’s or man’s law.

    “When it is not obvious what service an animal provides, only limited inquiries are allowed. Staff may ask two questions: (1) is the dog a service animal required because of a disability, and (2) what work or task has the dog been trained to perform. Staff cannot ask about the person’s disability, require medical documentation, require a special identification card or training documentation for the dog, or ask that the dog demonstrate its ability to perform the work or task.”

    “A person with a disability cannot be asked to remove his service animal from the premises unless: (1) the dog is out of control and the handler does not take effective action to control it or (2) the dog is not housebroken. When there is a legitimate reason to ask that a service animal be removed, staff must offer the person with the disability the opportunity to obtain goods or services without the animal’s presence.”


    I texted missionaries/elders from three different wards about the discrimination, none of them have responded. Which seems to suggest that the priesthood and church sanctions the discrimination and violation of Jesus’s teachings, God’s and man’s laws. It’s pretty bad when a church discriminates against the disabled. But considering the history of the LDS, it is not surprising. I feel Brigham Young broke any supposed priesthood chain, by making church policy racist. I feel Brigham Young’s hate mongering and fear mongering may have contributed to the paranoia, delusions and hatred that led to the Mountain Meadows Massacre. An innocent emigrant wagon train was attacked by Mormons disguised as Indians. The emigrants surrendered to the Mormon militia with the promise of safe passage; only to be murdered in cold blood.

  • Laura

    I think the questions you ask about Mormonisms contribution are right on. Yes, I do think we tend to encourage women toward “helping professions” (I remember feeling a lot of pressure to justify my choice to pursue graduate studies in the sciences–even to myself). Another problem I see is that we don’t do a very good job of encouraging women to plan for careers. Many young women are raised with the idea that their careers will be backup plans–and it’s understandable that many would not want to invest as much expense and energy in preparing for a career if it’s only going to be a backup plan. Without that additional investment in training, you’re always playing catch up to where you could have been.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Sorry, but you don’t sound like a member of the LDS Church, especially if you don’t know who the bishop is of the congregation you claim to have visited. The.bishop is not stationed at the door. Your story sounds fictional to me. The Mormon congregations I have attended have accommodated people with all sorts of handicaps and special needs.

  • Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Brigham Young University has women law professors and women law students. The former chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court is a woman, Chrstine Durham. Fully half of BYU students are women. With the recent change in age for missionaries, the number of Mormon women serving as missionaries around the world, learning other languages and getting experience in ering assertive and articulate spokespersons for what they believe in has doubled. Mormon women exercise leadership in Church, giving half the sermons in worship services and teaching adults and teenagers. Teams f women visit every household with an adult woman monthly and help those with acute needs such as illness or unemployment.

    One of my daughters in law was a database manager but chose to concentrate her efforts on having children. She is not a wallflower. She still holds a track and field record at the University of Utah. She has found her most rewarding life experiences in caring for and leading her children. That is more important to her than being Employee of the Month or the financial rewards of employment. No one at church discouraged her from working, she was an employed mother for five years. She chose her life.

    It can be convenient to blame someone else for your career choices, but if you let other people make decisions for you, you should stay out of most white collar jobs.

  • Doug

    My post is true, unlike Latter Day Saints. You don’t sound like a Christian.

    Your response seems misleading and bigoted. You seem to be a deceiver, dishonestly trying to put words in my mouth.

    Did I say I was a church member? No. I’m an “investigator” that has been reluctant to join, because some of the history, teachings and practices seem to be antichrist, inconsistent and contradictory.

    Did I say the Bishop was stationed at the door? No.

    I’m old and disabled and new to the LDS and have been attending two wards, because my schedule wouldn’t let me attend all the functions of my designated ward. I have been concentrating on learning the doctrine/philosophy rather than the hierarchy.

    I had come early to church. Early enough that I could walk my dog around the block and still be early. A Hispanic couple was having an argument outside. The woman and possibly the man seemed to be parishioners, though they weren’t behaving very well. The man was in the car in the street, the woman was accusing him of infidelities and shouting obscenities from the church parking lot. There were belongings strewn on the church lawn (a backpack or purse; women’s shoes and a cookie tray) that I suspect belonged to the woman. When I came back from my walk the belongings were gone, the couple was still arguing but not as ferociously. The woman stormed into the church backdoor shortly before I went into church. I went to the bathroom first because I didn’t want to miss any of the service. As I came out of the bathroom walked toward the front door toward the sanctuary, it was near the front door that the church leader stepped in front of my path and in violation of the ADA, demanded papers on my dog to prove that she was a service dog in order to attended service.

    I have submitted complaints to the elders/missionaries that have been calling on me and some of the ones from other wards that have called on me. They have yet to respond, which seems suggest that they sanction the discrimination. I have submitted online complaints to the “LDS Response Team” and have also e-mailed them at allegiance.com. Yet they have not responded, which seems to suggest that they sanction the discrimination.

    The fact is that clergy is bigoted; the local wards and the LDS as a whole seems to sanction it.

    Up until Easter, the elders/missionaries have been pressuring me to be baptized. I have been reluctant because I already have been baptized by another denomination. But they insist that only the LDS have the authority by God to baptize. They insist only the LDS has legitimate priesthood because they alleged they have an unbroken priesthood chain. I have pointed out to them repeatedly that I think it is contrary to Jesus’s teachings to be so divisive. I feel the authority comes from God, not from church. Many of them seem to worship religion, rather than God. That’s the type of thing that Jesus criticized and rebelled against (IE hypocrites and Pharisees). I think it is divisive and bashing other faiths to claim only Mormons are “true”. I think holding Brigham Young in such high esteem it is like holding Adolf Hitler in high esteem. They both might have made some great accomplishments, but some of their methods are so evil that I cannot hold them in high esteem. I dislike Brigham Young and Adolf Hitler. Also it seems somewhat bigoted/racist, to label Indians (Native Americans) as Jews. It seems derogatory of Native Americans and of Jews. Jesus was born a Jew, so I feel being derogatory against the Jewish as a race, might be derogatory of Jesus.

    I feel all religions stray from the path. Churches and doctrines are made by people, people are flawed and sin. I think it is conceded, hateful and un-Christlike to claim that only Mormons are “true”. The Mormon’s discrimination against the disabled proves that they are not “true”. When the church adopted Brigham Young’s racist doctrine, the church proved it was not “true”. The LDS needs to repent.

  • Sven

    Jana, thank you for complaining. Whats the solution? What ideas do you have to force LDS women to choose work over their children? What ideas do you have to force women into STEM instead of their prefered fields of choice? Because as has be brought up so many times its the CHOICES that women make that usually prevent them from making as much money as men. So how you propose we take away womens agency so they can become equals to men?
    PS: Can you start with my wife? I deeply desire to be a stay at home husband, quite possibly the greatest job I can concieve.

  • John

    Women are supposed to be meek and submit to the authority of their husbands.

  • BWB

    I suggest you find a church where you feel more comfortable. And service dog laws along with your other complaints, is completely off-topic here.

  • AM


  • BWB

    I appreciate the inclusion of the reasons for the pay gap. It’s unfair, deceptive, and frustrating as all get out, when people bring up the 77% and stop there. It just feeds into the whole ridiculous “war on women” farce.

    As far as how we, as LDS women, are encouraged in the Church ….it needs to be said that we are encouraged to plan for our greatest and most challenging “career” which is motherhood. That alone is the most important and influential assignment we will have in our mortal lives. So it’s wise to arrange the other aspects of our lives so as to not detract from it. I see this as good advice.

    Does the Church encourage us to be dependent on men? It teaches that husbands are responsible to support and provide for their families so that mothers can do what only they can do. In our contemporary thinking, motherhood has been reduced to the mundane, doable by anyone with a uterus. It receives very little recognition in this world of educational and economic status. We need a paradigm shift in our thinking. Men are equally, if not more, dependent on women to successfully create and raise a family which is, as I said, the most important thing we will ever do. Every other accomplishment, and pay level, is secondary.

  • BWB

    No one is forced to work for the Church. We are a free society. If they want more pay, they can work elsewhere. But as long as people knowingly accept a job for less pay, for possibly … say … a better work environment, they have only themselves to blame.

  • trytoseeit

    Although I agree that your comments are off topic, they nevertheless deserve a respectful response. It is too harsh to say that the bishop was “bigoted,” if he was merely acting with a misunderstanding of his responsibilities to you as well as to other members of his ward. But I wasn’t there and I don’t know what happened.

    Let me suggest this. Tell the missionaries that you would like to meet with a member of the stake presidency to discuss ADA compliance in church services. I am confident that the matter will be resolved in a way that is respectful to you and legally compliant. The whole purpose for the missionaries meeting with you is that the worth of every soul is great in the eyes of the Lord. Your Heavenly Father loves you and wants you to be part of His Church. If any of His servants are in need of forgiveness for any mistake or misstep on their parts, I hope you will approach them in the same love that Jesus Christ showed for each of us, on the occasion of the first Easter.

  • trytoseeit

    That was funny, thanks.

  • Rob

    One thing that never seems to be mentioned in such articles is quality of life. Do families in Utah where the couples have made a decision that the wife will stay home with the children while the husband works have a better aquality of life? Would life be better if both parents choose to leave their children with others while both work as many hours as they can? Parents should be free to make either choice but those who make the first choice seem to be ciriticized for createing a wage gap. Do you blieve they were not aware of the consequences of their choices? Perhaps we are putting emphasis on money to the exclusion of everything else.

  • TomW

    Jana, if “this data is not chronicling a divergence in ‘equal pay for equal work,’ ” and “no one is claiming from this data that women in Utah who are, say, high school history teachers with 22 years of experience are making 42.5% less than male high school history teachers who also have 22 years of experience in the same school system,” and “American women who never leave the workplace for any length of time have almost achieved wage parity with men,” then it seems as if there’s no story here, except that the demographic of women living in Utah has used their freedom to choose the lifestyle they prefer, which I thought was supposed to be the entire point of the women’s movement.

    The first factor given for the wage gap “is women’s greater tendency to leave full-time work for years at a time to care for children at home.” I think everyone accepts that. What I find interesting is the subsequent comment that “the long-term effect on American families may be positive, but the long-term effect on women’s earnings is disastrous.”

    If we are already in a position where women choosing career over family are near parity with men, and it is acknowledged by Jana that the reality of women choosing family over career may have long-term positive effects on American families, then why are we not stopping right here in our tracks and celebrating the state of affairs in Utah? Women choosing careers in the workforce are getting paid commensurate with what they are bringing to the table, and women choosing careers in the home are strengthening America. Hoist the Mission Accomplished banner!

    The second factor given is that women are less likely to negotiate salary. I’m afraid I don’t think there is anything society can or should do to compensate for this, other than to teach basic life skills in high school to all students. What they do with the knowledge is their individual responsibility. Jana mentions a 2012 Freakonomics podcast where “the male advantage disappears when employers make it clear that women are expected to negotiate.” I seriously do not believe that it is the role of employers to coach anyone, for any reason, on salary negotiation strategies. By all means, make clear the expectations for a job and the criteria used to evaluate performance, but negotiation is an individual responsibility. While “the New York Times also reports that it disappears when companies provide employees with hard data on what others are making,” I have worked at a company where a manager took a couple of employees aside and laid bare their co-workers’ salaries, regardless of differences in responsibilities and pay grade, and the results were disastrous. Not only was this an egregious breach of confidentiality (which was a contributing factor in that manager’s eventual termination), but it sowed terminal seeds of envy and discontent which impacted employee morale across the board. I would not recommend that companies provide data for what others are making. It’s really nobody else’s business.

    As for the final factor shared by Jana, that “women cluster in careers that pay less than those embraced by men,” this is again primarily a matter of individual choice. This primarily goes back to the reality of the first point mentioned above. As a matter of CHOICE, women predominantly choose education and career fields which align with their personal interests, among them being an eyes-open recognition of careers that they see as being compatible with their aspirations for family life (which goes both ways in terms of whether they those aspirations are predominantly in the home or in the work force). It shouldn’t surprise anyone that career-oriented women are drawn to education, which tends to mirror the day-to-day schedule of children – including extended simultaneous breaks from school which other careers do not offer. And while opportunities to pursue careers across the vast spectrum should be available to women and men, it is undeniable that gender differences provide certain innate advantages and disadvantages to many people in certain fields.

    If women who choose career over family are near salary parity, and mothers raising their own children have long-term positive benefits for the nation, then Utah’s highest overall percentage of stay-at-home mothers should be heralded as a badge of honor to be emulated by the other 49 states.

    If the women’s movement is about the freedom of women to make the life choices that they want for themselves, then choosing to have larger families while spending more years out of the work force – or even never returning to the work force at all, if that is their choice – is a perfectly acceptable alternative to careers as CEOs and rocket scientists.

    If Mormonism is a significant factor in Utah women choosing an abundant family life over corporate life, which again can be a tremendous net positive in the long-term, and if Mormonism has NOT prevented the ability of women who choose otherwise to attain near parity in salary to men, then we really don’t have an issue. If anything, we have cause for celebration!

    I don’t believe for a moment that Mormonism encourages “a meekness in women that might make them reluctant to ask for a raise or a promotion.” If anything, Mormonism helps girls gain confidence in public speaking (we say public prayers and give talks when we are 3!), helps girls learn to organize and carry out activities in group settings, and teaches values which would be an asset to any employer. And if she goes on a mission, she’ll learn additional skills to last a lifetime in the professional world as well as at home and church. I wouldn’t lay the concept of instilling meekness at the expense of being able to negotiate salary at the feet of their faith, especially (if I understand correctly) that the negotiating skills issue manifests itself across the nation regardless of one’s religious upbringing.

    I also do not believe that Mormonism specifically steers women “toward lower-paying careers in ‘helping’ professions such as teaching and nursing.” I do, however, believe there are natural tendencies toward such interests embedded within the female biology. Not universally. But sufficient to make an impact, especially when combined with the aforementioned flexibility that such careers offer to women who prioritize a greater measure of stay-at-home family life.

    If we have arrived at a place where women can largely choose the path which corresponds to their personal aspirations (achieving all of our life goals is another matter entirely, and is often elusive to both women and men!), then I think it isn’t premature to proclaim Mission Accomplished! Let us toast with a chilled bottle of Martinelli’s!

  • trytoseeit

    Ideally, we would all avoid generalities that might be subject to significant qualifications where valid at all. One type of problem arises when we look at cultural factors in play in the State of Utah and treat them as symptomatic of Mormon culture generally. There are more Mormons outside of Utah than inside, and a lot of us shake our heads at the foibles of “Utah Mormons.” (OK, we have our own foibles, but that’s not the point. *grin*) From where I sit, I don’t see ANY disincentive for young women in the Church to engage in career planning. Far from it, they are encouraged to seek as much education as possible. It is true that this is not presented to the exclusion of marriage and parenthood, any more than the comparable messages to young men.

    One generalization that we CAN make is that Mormons marry more than other groups. This is a very, very good thing, when you look at the generational poverty effects of single parenthood. This is actually a more interesting and current topic in social science than the hackneyed politics of the so-called pay gap.

  • Kris

    Since Jana is careful to make the point that this isn’t about “equal pay for equal work”, and the most significant reason for the wage gap is that women leave full-time work to raise children, I’m wondering what her issue is. From the context, I’m wondering if she is saying that Mormon women are less able to make their own choices due to their religious beliefs. Why else is “Mormonism” being held responsible?

    As a university educated Mormon woman who has stayed home to raise a large family, I find this idea demeaning – if that is the point she is trying to make. None of us live in a vacuum. We are all influenced by the belief systems (religious, philosophical, political, etc) to which we subscribe. I belong to a church that emphasizes family and I believe in those values. My choices have been based on those beliefs, but they have been my choices.

    Am I a problem to be fixed because my earning capacity was greatly lessened due to the years I devoted to raising my children? Lets build other women up and give them credit for the choices they have made and for their positive contributions to the world.

  • trytoseeit

    If critics don’t criticize, then they can’t call themselves critics. It probably gets to be a burden coming up with criticism once a week or however often it is, and so not every criticism is going to make sense. But if you start to write columns about how awesome everything is, then all the complainers get turned off. It’s a vicious cycle. 😉

  • TomW

    Tammy, when you claim that “female dependency is highly encouraged by the LDS faith in *so* many ways,” you couldn’t be more wrong.

    With regard to education and career, which was the focus of Jana’s blog, I invite you to read and ponder the teachings for Young Women in their curriculum for November this year under the heading Spiritual and Temporal Self-Reliance: https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/yw/self-reliance?lang=eng

    Sub-Topics within this section, completely relevant to this conversation, include:

    * What does it mean to be self-reliant? https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/yw/self-reliance/reliant?lang=eng

    * Why is it important for me to gain an education and develop skills? https://www.lds.org/youth/learn/yw/self-reliance/develop?lang=eng

    Some excerpts from these sections:

    “Although they are in their youth, these young women have been blessed with the gift of agency, and they are learning how to set their own course and find answers to their own problems in the gospel of Jesus Christ. The more self-reliant they become, the more freedom they will enjoy.”

    “When we are self-reliant, we use the blessings and abilities God has given us to care for ourselves and our families and find solutions to our own problems.”

    “Write the word ‘Dependent’ on the left side of the board and the word ‘Self-reliant’ on the right side. Ask the young women to define both words (if they need help, refer them to pages 184–85 of True to the Faith). Ask them to list ways they are dependent on others and ways they are self-reliant. Why does the Lord want us to grow to be self-reliant?”

    “Invite each young woman to read one of the stories in Daughters in My Kingdom (pages 51–56) about women who were self-reliant in early Church history. Ask the young women to retell their stories in their own words and share what they learn about self-reliance. What can the young women do to follow these examples while they are in their youth?”

    “Education is an important part of our Heavenly Father’s plan to help us become more like Him. Obtaining an education provides understanding and skills that can help us develop self-reliance. Education will also prepare us for greater service in our families, the Church, and the world.”

    “Invite the young women to imagine that a friend from church tells them she is going to drop out of school, explaining, ‘I’m going to get married someday, and my husband will support me, so I don’t need to keep going to school.’ How would the young women encourage her to continue to pursue an education? Ask them to write their responses on a piece of paper. Collect the papers, and read and discuss the responses with the class. At the end of class, give them the opportunity to add to their responses based on what they learned during the lesson.”

    The lesson encourages the girls to study a talk entitled “Seek Learning: You Have a Work to Do” by Mary N. Cook, former First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/seek-learning-you-have-a-work-to-do?lang=eng

    Sister Cook taught:

    “Seek learning by studying diligently. Rarely will you be able to spend as much time dedicated to learning as you can now. President Gordon B. Hinckley wisely counseled the youth of the Church: ‘The pattern of study you establish during your formal schooling will in large measure affect your lifelong thirst for knowledge.’ ‘You must get all of the education that you possibly can. … Sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of [this] world. … Train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives.’

    “In speaking specifically to women, President Thomas S. Monson said: ‘Often the future is unknown; therefore, it behooves us to prepare for uncertainties. … I urge you to pursue your education and learn marketable skills so that, should such a situation arise, you are prepared to provide.’

    “Young women, follow the advice of these wise and inspired prophets. Be a good student. Arise and shine forth in your schools with hard work, honesty, and integrity. If you are struggling or discouraged with your performance in school, seek help from your parents, teachers, and helpful Church members. Never give up!”

    These lessons also refer to the section on Education in the “For the Strength of Youth” booklet (https://www.lds.org/youth/for-the-strength-of-youth/education?lang=eng), which states:

    “Education is an important part of Heavenly Father’s plan to help you become more like Him. He wants you to educate your mind and to develop your skills and talents, your power to act well in your responsibilities, and your capacity to appreciate life. The education you gain will be valuable to you during mortality and in the life to come.

    “Education will prepare you for greater service in the world and in the Church. It will help you better provide for yourself, your family, and those in need. It will also help you be a wise counselor and companion to your future spouse and an informed and effective teacher of your future children.

    “Education is an investment that brings great rewards and will open the doors of opportunity that may otherwise be closed to you. Plan now to obtain an education. Be willing to work diligently and make sacrifices if necessary. Share your educational goals with your family, friends, and leaders so they can support and encourage you.”

    Can any clear-minded person study these things and conclude, “Female dependency is highly encouraged by the LDS faith in *so* many ways.”

    The answer is a resounding “NO!”

    Among the forms of dependency Tammy speaks of is dependency “on a spouse for celestial glory.” Interesting. Because males are dependent on a spouse for celestial glory too! “Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 11:11) And in the end, both are dependent upon the grace of Christ to become joint heirs with Him in all that our Father hath.

    As for being “dependent on a spouse for finances,” marriage is a cooperative condition. How married couples choose to determine their standard of living and the means they employ to achieve that standard of living is between them. While surely there is the age-old tradition of men as bread winners and women as nurturers, most people (including church leaders) recognize that every family’s situation is subject to adaptation according to their respective situations. Financial matters are a shared responsibility of marriage, whether it comes to earning, saving, or spending. We are dependent upon each other to be wise in all of our choices with respect to finances, no matter who may be gainfully employed or otherwise contributing to the welfare of our marriages and families.

    As for priesthood blessings, both men and women are dependent upon others. In this regard, women are more fortunate insofar as they live under the same roof with one or more worthy Melchizedek priesthood holders. Men in need of such blessings rarely live under the same roof with others authorized to give a blessing except for the brief period between when a son is ordained prior to serving a mission and when he ultimately leaves the home for school and/or marriage. To the extent that “one believes in [priesthood blessings] and needs such,” women generally get the better deal in terms of ready access.

    No doubt “dependency can be crippling to the psyche, particularly if it is encouraged from birth.” We see this openly in American society when entire generations live in a state of perpetual dependency. It is ruinous both to those who bear the tax burden as well as to the entrenched recipients.

    Tammy, I’m glad that you still have “fond feelings and good memories of church and friendships from it.” To the extent that your “biggest beef” with Mormonism is your perception that it “encourages female dependency and lures girls with the myth that having a sugar daddy will make for an ideal life,” I assure you that this is not the case whatsoever. There may be individuals within the church who see things that way, and who as youth advisers may have even inappropriately suggested such a course, but their views are not in harmony with the teachings of the church, especially considering the ever-increasing emphasis being placed on self-reliance in our present day.

  • Katie

    Sure, Utah LDS women are “choosing” teaching or non-STEM professions, but I think something a lot of people responding to the article are ignoring is that a person’s choices still are influenced by their culture and environment. Utah does not encourage girls in elementary school or Young Women’s to study STEM. In fact, I personally experienced active discouragement away from those fields because I was female. This isn’t about “forcing” women into STEM fields, rather it’s about encouraging girls that they ARE capable at science, math, and engineering, just as capable as their male counterparts. I ended up persisting and going onto graduate study in a physical science despite the active discouragement I received, but I often think that if I had been encouraged and provided more opportunities that it would have been a great advantage in my career.

  • Tammy

    Mothers are not the only parent that can care for children. Fathers are not the only parent that can work outside the home. Furthermore, motherhood is about more than just physically being at home and working moms can do just as good of a job parenting. So while I agree that parenting is important, it is not accurate to imply that working outside the home jeopardizes a person’s ability to be an excellent parent or that staying at home guarantees good parenting. These are part of the myths the LDS church fosters that are simply not true and can be detrimental to the well-being of both parents.

  • Tammy

    Thanks for the lengthy correction, however, your description of LDS training does not match my own experience. I stand by my opinions based on personal experience. When the Proclamation to the Family is modified and when LDS churches are used a daycares during the week to help busy moms earn independence and self-reliance, then I will be swayed by the lessons and insights you post. Until then, I’m unconvinced.

  • TomW

    Conceited? Something all mortals battle against.

    Hateful? If they’re living their religion, they’re probably doing better than average.

    Bigoted? Not if they’re living their religion.

    How ANY of that has to do with a service dog is beyond me.

    FWIW, I know a girl who brings her service dog to church all the time. No big deal. Is it POSSIBLE that in some other congregation a member of a bishopric didn’t know how to respond to a first-time encounter with such a situation? Perhaps. If so, perhaps one might consider some compassion toward his ignorance, and kindly bring him up to speed on how these things work under the law rather than unleashing fiery darts.

    I have no idea what texting missionaries about the incident should accomplish. It’s not their stewardship to address such things. They have no authority over such matters whatsoever.

    I find it curious that Brigham Young is invoked as part of the discussion. When it comes to the church’s history of race relations and the story behind Mountain Meadows, you’re probably not breaking news to readers of this blog.

  • TomW

    Doug, you say that you are “an ‘investigator’ that has been reluctant to join, because some of the history, teachings and practices seem to be antichrist, inconsistent and contradictory.”

    May I ask, considering your strong critical views of the church, what are the positive things which cause you to investigate despite the alleged negative?

  • TomW

    Well stated.

  • TomW

    A thought-provoking twist on the topic!

  • TomW

    … insofar as their husbands are meek and submit to the authority of the Father.

  • TomW

    Indeed, both parents are equal partners in the overall responsibilities child-rearing. Both parents are equal partners in providing the necessities of life for their families. All things being equal, however, it is generally true that having a full-time parent in the home during a child’s formative years is optimal if a family can afford to do so. As the Family Proclamation states, “other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.

  • TomW

    Excellent point, Rob. Perhaps society should focus less on income inequality and more on promoting the virtues and benefits of having a parent in the home during a child’s formative years. What is in the true long-term best interests of the nation and the world?

  • TomW

    You’re not a problem to be fixed, Kris, but rather a solution to be emulated.

  • TomW


  • TomW

    Surely everybody may have their own experiences. I merely shared exactly what the church is teaching our young women in the present, and self-reliance is huge.

    I fail to see the point of why the inspired Family Proclamation, put forth by the united First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, requires modification except by revelation. For practicing members of the church, the contents are fairly unassailable.

    And I fail to see the obligation of church’s to provide daycare services. Would that not in itself sponsor a form of dependency in child-rearing? I thought we were striving to avoid dependency.

  • Doug

    @ trytoseeit

    You really should read a post before you respond to it, perhaps that’s why you are making bigoted, ignorant unfounded attacks.

    The fact is the Bishop is bigot. Like you, he was eager to ignorantly rush to judgment and make unfounded attacks.

    As I said before I have texted, the missionaries from three wards about the discrimination. I have sent e-mails to LDS.com and their proxy allegiance.com. None of them have responded, which seems to suggest that the discrimination is sanctioned by the church and LDS. They already have been disrespectful and noncompliant.

    The missionaries have proven that they are not about saving souls. They are hateful bigots.

    Your hateful tirade supporting bigotry is another example of what’s wrong with the LDS.

  • Kris

    We are influenced by our culture and environment. I had people question me about my choice of education (teaching) as well as being a stay at home mom. We all have our personal stories of being influenced. It’s easier to see the ‘influencing’ that is occurring when it is different than our values. I think the important point is to respect each other enough to know that most people do think through their own choices. To repeat, none of us are in a vacuum.

    It is no secret that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a strong advocate for the family. Anyone who is a member of it, will be exposed to teachings to promote the family with the Proclamation being the focus of those teachings. We are influenced by those we surround ourselves. Women freely choosing, based on their values, to mother and not be in the workforce full time, is not a problem to be solved.

    And as a side note to stand up for a couple of professions that are being negated – teaching and nursing are noble professions. They encounter the same lack of respect that mothering sometimes does. They don’t command prestige and money, but they have a remarkably positive effect on the world.

  • Katie

    Except the Proclamation on the Family is not a revelation, so it doesn’t require a revelation to fix it. Considering that it was written without any female input, of course there are things that could be improved about it. And that’s not me saying that, that’s quoting Chieko Okazaki who served in the General Relief Society Presidency at the time.

  • Doug

    @ TomW

    Unlike the Bishop, Church and you, I was being careful to judge.

    I see some good people and some good teachings in the LDS, but like it is said, wolves can come in sheep’s clothing. Satan is a deceiver.

  • TomW

    You seem to employ the term “bigot” so loosely as to strip it of any meaning or impact.

  • Tammy

    Myth. Having a parent at home who doesn’t want to be at home isn’t ideal at all. A working parent who manages quality time with children and may have paid assistance during the formative years is not less than ideal at all.

  • TomW

    “Women freely choosing, based on their values, to mother and not be in the workforce full time, is not a problem to be solved.”

    Amen, Kris!

  • Katie

    I have nothing against teaching and nursing as professions, and I’m unsure where anything I said gave you the impression I was negating them. They’re great professions, but that doesn’t change the fact that girls are often actively encouraged towards those professions and actively discouraged away from STEM fields. I stand by what I said before: choices are influenced by culture, and the culture in Utah more positively emphasizes choices that involve staying at home and do not involve STEM field careers. Either way, I look forward to the day when women don’t have to justify or explain their educational, career, or parenting choices.

  • Tammy

    Paid childcare is not evil or even bad. Childcare workers with less skills can earn money providing these services, and educated men and women who want some childcare assistance while fulfilling career goals benefit as well. This is not dependency, this is mutually beneficial arrangements. Children don’t suffer by having alternative caretakers now and again. Myth, myth, myth. Mothers can be just as effective at mothering at the end of a work day as fathers are at fathering at the end of their work day. And the Proclamation is seriously flawed. Unless it changes, the LDS church will remain the dark ages when it comes to women as well as LGBT issues (traditional role thinking is what is preventing the LDS church from progressing in that area as well).

  • Katie

    It’s not the choosing that is the problem… it’s the fact that women often have to justify or explain their choices – whether that’s staying at home or working or what field they choose to get an education and have a career in. There’s a lot more cultural support for certain choices. I think if we truly value women as much as we claim to then we should encourage them to make choices from the full range of options, and we should support all choices equally.

  • TomW

    The Family Proclamation is not a formal revelation, but its content reiterates and affirms established doctrine. And proclamations given under the signatures of the united First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are as nigh unto canon as we get without formally enshrining something into the Standard Works of the church. For those who believe that these prophets and apostles are God’s anointed mouthpieces on the earth, quibbling over the nuances of revelations versus proclamations has little bearing on the gravity with which we receive counsel from the Lord’s servants.

    As for your comment about female input, is there precedent for the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles withholding revelation and/or proclamations pending internal discussion and ratification by the auxiliaries of the church?

    Generally speaking, the Brethren seek and receive counsel from auxiliary leaders all the time. But such isn’t requisite to declaring the position of the church on any matter. They hold all the keys necessary to do so, and their Source is quite authoritative.

  • Doug

    @ TomW

    The Bishop and the church is bigoted and conceded. God’s word is supposed to be for everyone, not just for the able bodied.

    From what I understand another person was banned from church a few weeks ago for having a service dog. Though I suspect the service dog was an emotional support or psychiatric support dog; that doesn’t have as much legal protection as a service dog for a physical disability. So even though by law it probably wouldn’t be considered discrimination, morally I think it still might be discrimination.

    You really should read a post before you respond to it. Your hateful ignorant attacks are unfounded.

    Like I said it wasn’t a first-time encounter. I had been attending church regularly for several months with my service dog.

    Again your being eager to recklessly jumped to conclusions and judge. What makes you think I didn’t try to bring him up to speed? After he started bullying me, I handed him copies of the state and federal ADA website that summarizes the laws. He didn’t care about Jesus’s teachings, God’s laws or man’s laws. He still chose to hatefully discriminate and violate the ADA.

    The Bishop and you are more examples of what is wrong with the LDS.

  • TomW

    “Having a parent at home who doesn’t want to be at home” may qualify under the category of “other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation.”

    But people shouldn’t deceive themselves with platitudes of quality time if they have it within their capacity to enhance it with quantity as well.

  • Kris

    You’re right, Katie. You didn’t negate teaching and nursing specifically. They were mentioned in the article.

    And I agree that we are influenced by our beliefs which inform our culture. I tried to make that point above, but maybe not very effectively. The church emphasizes family and I am influenced by that emphasis.

  • Katie

    Lol, Tom, dismissive attitudes like that are exactly why Ordain Women exists. I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on most of what you said. I totally sustain the prophets and apostles, and I still think that they’re fallible human beings that can (and do!) make mistakes.

  • Katie

    I think Tammy makes an excellent point. Quantity doesn’t necessarily lead to quality.

  • TomW

    You’re taking tremendous leaps morphing my comment about “optimal” into characterizing the alternative as “evil” or “bad.”

    My mother provided child care services throughout my childhood years, and to a great extent she was a very positive influence in the lives of the children she helped rear. Yet as godly a woman as my mother was, some of those kids would probably still been better off with more quantity time from their parents in addition to the many goodies they enjoyed as beneficiaries of two-income families.

    The Proclamation is divinely inspired. You speak of flaws, but offer none for discussion. As for gender issues, it is the Lord’s church rather than the church of modern society’s whims. Considering the glory of the exaltation He has in mind for His children, we should be more interested in our true eternal progress and potential rather than the ideas for “progress” which mortals come up with.

  • Kris

    This article made me feel that there was a problem with Mormon women choosing to stay home and thereby hurting their earning capacity. I don’t know if it was helping to value women and their choices.

  • TomW

    Insofar as this blog post is concerned, the women placed on the defensive are those who choose family first.

  • TomW

    Doug, it’s spelled c-o-n-c-e-i-t-e-d.

    And your loose application of the term “bigot” robs it of its meaning.

    And seriously, Doug, you want to lecture OTHERS about judging?

  • Doug

    @ TomW

    In my opinion your dishonest attempt to redefine the word bigot, is essentially bearing false witness.

    The bishops, trytoseeit, and your unfounded attacks are very conceited. You are bigots. You ignorantly and recklessly judge and make unfounded attacks. You choose to attack victims instead of attacking evil. You are doing evil.

  • TomW

    Katie, Ordain Women exists because a certain percentage of LDS women, perhaps confusing the kingdom of God with earthly political kingdoms, struggle to align their heartfelt desires with the manner in which the Lord has chosen to establish His church for the benefit of mankind.

    They struggle to accept the living prophets and apostles as being exactly what the doctrines of the church proclaim them to be, the vehicles whereby the Lord administers His affairs.

    If this really is the Lord’s Restored Church, and if we truly believe in Him, including His capacity to direct His work, to what can we reasonably attribute doctrines and policies which contradict our personal worldviews?

    If the Lord has in mind to ordain women (and I am personally open to Him doing absolutely anything He wants to do, except perhaps sentencing me to Nursery duty for the rest of my days), He will make it happen either now or in the future according to His own divine timetable, not ours.

    To the Ordain Women members and sympathizers who believe that the church is true, I urge trusting in Him and His timetable and His anointed servants.

    Elder Oaks, just two weeks ago, speaking with regard to himself and his fellow apostles, stated that “even though these presiding authorities hold and exercise all of the keys delegated to men in this dispensation, they are not free to alter the divinely decreed pattern that only men will hold offices in the priesthood.”

    Note that he didn’t say that the Lord couldn’t do so, or that he would never do so. But he made it clear that he and his brethren lack the authority to make such a change. It must come from the Lord.

    Elder Oaks’ remarks come in the aftermath of the highly publicized efforts of Ordain Women, who have frequently posed the question, “Have they earnestly petitioned the Lord on the matter?”

    While they’re probably not going to receive a play-by-play of any internal discussions and prayers which have been offered on the matter, the fact of the matter is that Elder Oaks would not have given this talk in General Conference unless they had conversed and prayed about it.

    Again, for believing Latter-day Saints, this is fairly unassailable. General Authorities pretty universally fast and pray over the remarks they will share in General Conference.

    Thus for the faithful, this is no longer a question. They may not like the answer, but they cannot continue to argue whether or not the Brethren are aware of their concerns and whether they have prayed about it. They have.

    This has nothing to do with the fact that we are all fallible human beings. It has to do with the fact that the prophets and apostles, as duly ordained servants of the Lord, will receive the revelation the Father wants them to receive, at the time He wants them to receive it. Especially if they are praying about it, but He can do so even if they aren’t. In this case, at the very least as it pertains to the apostle Elder Oaks, he did. And for now nothing changes.

    The true measure of a disciple isn’t the humility and obedience he or she is able to display when sustaining doctrines and policies he or she already agree with. It is the humility and obedience he or she is able to display when sustaining doctrines and policies he or she struggles to understand or agree with.

    One of my favorite quotes from former Assistant to the Twelve Apostles, Elder Sterling W. Sill:

    “What a tremendous benefit we could bestow upon ourselves by calling off the war and learning to live at peace with God, not only in obeying him but also in agreeing with him.”

    May peace be with you…

  • TomW

    Doug, I rest my case and trust that fair-minded individuals following along with the conversation will acquit me well.

  • Tammy

    Becoming a financial dependent is not choosing family first. It is an unnecessary sacrifice under the guise of family first. It’s pious, elitist, and judgmental to say that women who stay home have chosen family first and that women who work outside the home have chosen family second.

  • TomW

    Tammy, despite proclaiming that women who dedicate their lives to their careers earn approximately the same as men who do the same, Jana’s comments nonetheless express concern over the wage gap impact of women who choose to abstain from the work force for prolonged periods in favor of stay-at-home child-rearing. How can one categorize the choice to prioritize raising one’s family over other career choices in any other way? Please do not take offense where none is given nor intended.

  • Katie

    Wow, Tom, that was a really long response that was full of assumptions. Considering that you seem rather entrenched in your viewpoint, I’m not going to take the time and energy to explain in detail why I consider many of your assumptions to not be valid. You seem to feel like you are somehow capable of determining the depth of my faith and testimony from an internet forum, which I do find more than a little laughable. Again, I think we’re going to have to agree to disagree on most of what you said.

  • trytoseeit

    Earlier, I tried to offer considerate and helpful comments. I will try to continue in the same way, even though I was then accused by Doug of bad things just because I tried to be helpful. What I said was, ask to speak to the stake president about ADA compliance. In response, Doug said (I’ll leave out all of the anger, hostility and insults), “As I said before I have texted, the missionaries from three wards about the discrimination. . . . None of them have responded, which seems to suggest that the discrimination is sanctioned by the church and LDS.”

    The thing is, this incident,whatever it is that occurred, happened on Sunday. Today is Tuesday. I can imagine that priesthood leaders might need a day or two to figure out what went wrong and to find a solution. They may even be seeking guidance from Church headquarters. It is absolutely not the case that any violation of applicable legal requirements is ever sanctioned by the Church.

    I don’t know quite what is meant by sending “e-mails to LDS.com and their proxy allegiance.com.” But the right course of action is to continue to request assistance from local stake leaders, since the complaint is against a bishop. If a response is not received right away, there is nothing wrong with follow up. But it might be helpful to tone down the angry accusations, which don’t contribute to a solution.

    I’ve seen service dogs in Sacrament meetings on many occasions without any problem at all. Either someone made a mistake – which can happen – or there is more to this story than we’re reading here. if it is just a mistake, it can be fixed easily enough.

  • Katie

    I have to disagree. Jana merely pointed out the fact that staying home does have a negative impact on overall earnings. She didn’t say women choosing to stay home were making a bad choice. It’s a perfectly acceptable choice to put family above financial gain in cases where it’s not necessary for both parents to work in order to provide for the family. It’s my own personal opinion that choosing to have a career while also parent should also be an acceptable choice. To me this blog is merely providing an opportunity to have a dialogue about this topic.

  • Tammy

    It’s not either/or family/career, Tom. Continually implying that staying at home is equal to prioritizing family over career is flawed logic and quite frankly, insulting to this work-outside-the-home and also highly devoted parent.

  • TomW

    If a woman chooses to be a stay-at-home mother, she is prioritizing this path over career. Since when is this disputable? It certainly isn’t insulting. It’s a mere recognition of fact.

  • Curriculum Writer

    @SarahFamilia said – “Young women in the LDS church are regularly taught that if they MUST work, they should choose a ‘flexible’ profession that will allow them to stay home with their children as much as possible.”

    I will buy you and your husband dinner if you will find this teaching in any current LDS manual or General Conference talk given in the last decade.

  • Katie

    Explicit or implicit?

    Regardless, even if it’s not in any currently utilized manual, the concept is a common enough belief that leaders regularly do teach this. Current lesson manuals don’t always stick to Conference talks from the last decade. I myself remember well my YW leaders giving us a talk using a Spencer W. Kimball quote on the importance of wearing makeup and making yourself pretty.

  • Katie

    Giving us a lesson rather, I should say. I think the YW manuals have been redone since then, but teachers often pull quotes from prophets and apostles of the past.

  • cwandrews

    Tammy – Your claims are simply preposterous. Long before it became fashionable, LDS leaders have encouraged women to get marketable educations. I’m sorry to read bitterness in your comments, but you really need to consider facts before you make these kinds of claims.

  • cwandrews

    Wat? I’ve been immersed in the LDS faith for almost 40 years and I have never heard that. Ever.

    Just checked with my wife – Stake Young Womens President – nope, nothing there either. Young women have definitely been encouraged to prioritize home and family while the husband acts as ‘hunger and gatherer’, if you will. But singling out teaching and nursing sounds more like a cultural observation, at best.

  • cwandrews

    Credible references, please.

  • cwandrews

    I’m thinking there’s another side to the story there, Doug. We have two members who utilize service animals and they’ve always been welcome. How do I know? They attend meetings every single week. With their animals.

  • Katie

    None of Tammy’s claims are anywhere near deserving of being called preposterous. As a Young Woman I did hear many lessons on getting a marketable education – usually with an “in case” attached: in case you don’t get married, in case you get divorced, in case your husband dies.

    Obviously the Cinderella Complex is a severe enough issue in Utah County that the guidance counselors held lectures for the girls ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION to emphasize that they shouldn’t count on getting married and having a guy take care of them. They liked to call it “Prince Charming Syndrome” though.

  • Katie

    While I’m thrilled that this doesn’t seem to be an issue in your stake, I regret to inform you this is totally a legitimate issue. Just because something hasn’t happened in your or your wife’s personal experience doesn’t mean that it hasn’t happened ever.

  • Tammy

    Ignoring informed criticism is a sure-fire path to eventual failure. And I do believe that “bitter” is in the eye of the beholder, after all… it justifies ignorance of criticism.

  • Tammy

    That’s not always true, not at all. When a woman stays home, she may be prioritizing the myth of dependency as ideal. She may be prioritizing a desire *not* to compete in the workforce out of fear or insecurity or any number of things. It is a sweeping generalization to state as though it is fact that a mother choosing not to work outside the home is prioritizing motherhood. It is a speculative and prejudiced position, not fact whatsoever.

  • WC

    So because women chose to raise their families it is having a devastating effect on the wage gap. I believe that because these selfless women chose to postpone or end their careers to raise law abiding children who will then contribute to society rather than detract from it has benefited society monetarily and socially much more than a few pennies in a wage gap. The wage gap statistic is just a useless statistic anyway. You agreed that there is no wage gap when men and women do exactly equal work with exactly the same experience. When I have a choice between a stupid statistic and strong families I will take families every time. Why don’t you go find something else to rag on. This one doesn’t hold water.

  • Katie

    Saying “single, childless women earn 95 cents for every dollar a single, childless man makes” is not the same as agreeing “there is no wage gap when men and women do exactly equal work with exactly the same experience”. Discussing why the wage gap exists is not meaningless. I’m sure it means a lot to women with children who CAN’T stay home, either because they’re single mothers or because their spouse doesn’t make enough for them to do so. Your logic makes it sound like only stay-at-home moms deserve any consideration when it comes to raising law abiding children who will contribute to society. There are a lot of working moms in the world who value strong families too.

  • Tammy

    Here, here, Katie. Stay strong, woman. =)

    I will also add that many moms *choose* to work and still value strong families. Work and family are no more mutually exclusive for women than they are for men.

  • Katie

    Tammy, you’re absolutely right. Upon rereading, I missed the choosing to work demographic. Just like a dad can choose to work and still value strong families, so can moms!

  • WC

    My point is that the general tone of the article (in my opinion) is if those darn women would stop raising their kids full time and get back in the work force then Utah wouldn’t have such a large wage gap. I realize that there are lots of women who have to or want to work and still have strong values which are passed on to their kids. But from a statistics point of view I think we will find that homes where at least one parent is present when the kids come home from school has a better chance of producing children that become contributing adults than ones that don’t. I like to play the odds. I would rather see Utah high on the list of producing responsible youth than I would like to see it high on the wage gap list.

  • Atheist Max

    Max, this is Jana speaking. Your comment has been deleted because it was irrelevant to the discussion at hand about women and the wage gap, and it was filled with inflammatory generalizations about Mormonism.

    If you would like to debate the truth claims of Mormonism, please do so in a civil manner without insults, and do so in another blog discussion when we undertake theological truth claims. Here are a couple of older posts where polite discussion on those issues would be welcome:



  • Kris

    Katie – You said, “I look forward to the day when women don’t have to justify or explain their educational, career, or parenting choices”. I couldn’t agree more. I think mutual respect is what is needed. Whether it’s a woman’s religious beliefs, personal convictions, or family circumstances that affect her decisions, we should respect those decisions and not make her feel that she needs to justify those choices.

    In the article, Jana presented the wage gap as a problem. It’s difficult, as a stay at home mom of over 20 years, not to think that I’m somehow a problem to be solved since my earning capacity is definitely not what it would have been if I hadn’t stayed home to raise my family.

    In the above thread, in comments by others, terms such as “having a sugar daddy”, “Cinderella complex”, and “financial dependent” have been used. I think it’s unfortunate that women treat each other this way. Mothering is a daunting, joyful endeavor and we need to treat each other kindly. It’s unfortunate that the dialogue seems to pit women against each other.

  • MA in MD

    I tire of such silliness as this, where a writer takes a meaningless number and uses it to try to denigrate a whole religion and, in this case the women who are its adherents. All from the perspective of an outsider who knows little of what the religion and its culture are really like.

    Try asking real LDS people about the situation, like my three adult daughters. One is a Physician’s Assistant and another is a nurse, both making more money in their early careers than I make in my late career. The other daughter has a Master’s degree and recently CHOSE to retire to devote herself to raising her new daughter. (Imagine that in today’s self-centered, materialistic world)!

    Yes – give credit to these great women in the LDS Church have tremendous intelligence and have a desire to serve others (unlike the trends of American culture in the 2000s) and have freedom to CHOOSE, yes, by their own free will, CHOOSE. They CHOOSE greater roles than to be merely money-makers. And they are educated (take a look at that “number” and write an article about how high that is among Mormon women compared to the other 49 states).

    And ease off your war on intelligent AND spiritual women, those who are literally carrying the future of our great nation.

  • Tammy

    Kris, while you didn’t address me directly, because you quoted some of my comment content, I am compelled to respond, I hope you don’t mind.

    Mutual respect comes when both parties who see things differently acknowledge the benefits of the opposite position. I can see benefit to one parent at home and one at work. It’s not by divine design which *gender* is better suited for either role, but I can certainly see how that could make for a nice arrangement under the best circumstances. But I have yet to read any comments from those who favor a stay-at-home parent that acknowledge the benefits of two parents working, especially any mention of the benefits to children with two working parents. How is that mutually respectful?

    I have a number of close personal friends who’ve made the decision to bypass the workforce and be homemakers. I respect them immensely. We have candid conversations all the time about the benefits and pitfalls of our different life arrangements. There’s a bit of envy and a bit of pride on both sides. That’s real and that’s mutual respect and it is totally possible.

    Terms like sugar daddy, cinderella complex, and prince charming syndrome are not meant to insult, and I understand if they raise hackles a bit. It’s not meant to criticize women who’ve made their choices, but rather to alert the community sending misleading messages to young women about the many choices available, and the consequences associated with those choices. The Mormon culture says… for women… there’s only one choice that places family first and that is female dependency on a man. This is flawed and limiting.

  • Tammy

    It’s not selfish to work and raise children. Ease off on that judgmental and self-righteous position, eh?

  • Mark Edwards

    Kris – as to your side note; perhaps if enough men entered these noble professions, which always seem to be lauded publicly but underfunded, the financial support would be higher – approaching equivalency with the STEM professions they are preparing our young people (men and women) to enter.

  • You raise some good points here, Tom. I think you missed the point that my post was descriptive and not prescriptive, but that is probably the fault of my writing not being clear enough.

    As a housekeeping issue to help my blog readers: if you want a response, please try to limit each comment to 200-300 words. Separate your points into distinct comments that address just one or two issues, rather than throwing them together in an all-encompassing 1100-word manifesto. (This goes for everyone. It’s much easier to read and respond to comments when they are shorter and more specific. Thanks.)

    Now for my own long-ish comment: I would challenge the assertion that “the helping professions” are never encouraged from the pulpit. For example, Gordon B. Hinckley gave a beautiful talk to the YW of the church in 2001 in which he shared a story about a nurse who had taken care of him in the hospital:

    “I became acquainted with my very cheerful and expert nurse. She is the kind of woman of whom you girls could dream. When she was young she decided she wished to be a nurse. She received the necessary education to qualify for the highest rank in the field. She worked at her vocation and became expert at it. She decided she wanted to serve a mission and did so. She married. She has three children. She works now as little or as much as she wishes. There is such a demand for people with her skills that she can do almost anything she pleases. She serves in the Church. She has a good marriage. She has a good life. She is the kind of woman of whom you might dream as you look to the future.”

    Did GBH anywhere in this talk say, “Girls, be a nurse”? No. But he did uphold nursing as a flexible career that is highly compatible with a Mormon woman’s life. Now, I loved many parts of this talk, especially his emphasis on female education and the fact that “the sky is the limit.” But the only career he mentioned in this talk about women’s lives was nursing.

  • The point of the post was to raise a question and begin a discussion, not to make judgments about individual women’s lives. I certainly applaud women who decide to stay home with their kids, as my mother did after earning a master’s degree. I have worked less than full-time during much of my own time as a mother, and have only taken editing and writing jobs that would permit me to work from home apart from business travel.

    If you feel that this post is trying to “demean” anyone who chooses to stay home, then is it possible you are juxtaposing your own issues onto my words?

    The point of feminism is to strive for the full flourishing of all people (not just women) and to ensure that those people’s choices are not automatically proscribed by their gender. That’s all. If women who have every choice available to them decide to stay home, then that’s terrific. Many middle-class women now enjoy the privilege of an education AND being a SAHM. We should remember that it’s not the case for everyone:

    “Forget the image of rich, highly educated women who are simply choosing to stay home because their husbands earn enough to make it possible. This group, sometimes called ‘opt-out mothers’ for their choice to put elite careers on hold, gets a lot of press, but it’s actually very small.

    The more typical stay-at-home mom in America today is poor.

    Over a third of these moms live below the poverty line, almost half have merely a high school level education or less, and 49 percent are minorities, Pew found.”

    Read more: http://www.kcci.com/project-economy/Stay-at-home-moms-are-on-the-rise/25376256#ixzz2zicZq9Mq

  • Thank you, Katie. I’m glad that someone understood what I was trying to do.

  • Somehow I don’t think I’m the one waging “war” here.

    And as for “asking real LDS people,” well, that would be me and many of the commenters here on this blog. As you can see from the great diversity presented here, we do not all feel the same, yet most of us are Mormons.

    No one is trying to denigrate a religion (except perhaps “AtheistMax,” whose comments were deleted).

    Please stick to the issues at hand when you comment, and don’t make rash and unfounded assumptions about motive.

  • Atheist Max

    This is Atheist Max – I apologize for getting out of hand. I enjoy reading your articles about Mormon life. I do get worked up by stories of women who are limited by beliefs. Sorry. I will restrain myself.
    I appreciate the opportunity to comment and I understand that I should be respectful.

  • SanAntonioRob

    Jana, don’t want to be too critical because I do enjoy your blog. One suggestion I would make regarding this article is the choice of wording, expecially in the question “What is the culpability of Mormonism in creating the wage gap in Utah?” Despite things in your article that might reasonably point to the contrary, your question appears to automatically assume there is a problem that someone is “culpable” of. And the questions appears to automatically assume the Church deserves some “blame” – the question is just how much.

    Some people may reasonably assert (as has been done) that, given all the facts, there may not be a problem (or at least not a major one). However, given the wording of the questions, it appears to them that the only path to having their opinion heard is to come out on the defensive.

  • Kingsfold

    “The point of the post was to raise a question and begin a discussion, not to make judgments about individual women’s lives.”

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt on that, but by using qualitative words like, “worst,” “worst offender” (Wyoming, which is #3 in %LDS population), “worse,” “disastrous,” and “deleterious,” even in quoting, and then innocently posing the question “How responsible is Mormonism, the religion of 62% of Utah’s people, for this gender discrepancy?” it might naturally sound to many of us, even if your implication is unintentional, that you are saying that Mormonism IS responsible. To me, this article is somewhat a more gentle version of the “When did you stop beating your wife?” argument. Utah, and by association, the Church, is assumed to be guilty before anyone even reads the article. My $0.02.

    (Shrugs.) I guess I’m just extremely wary of members of the Church, but who become well-known by publishing the Church’s faults (or perceived faults) to the world for review.

  • JO

    I always appreciate your posts and often have spirited discussions about them with friends and family. Knowing that there are other “real LDS people” like me makes me feel a lot less isolated. Keep up the inspiring work!

    P.S. I loved Flunking Sainthood and my husband and I have both incorporated some of the ideas into our lives/prayers.

  • Atheist Max

    Was not aware that I had crossed the line. Shall be more careful.

  • rah

    That is an unfair test given the study. Given median age of the women whose wages make up the study, you should say “find me one teaching from a manual or GC talk in the 1980/1990s that taught this”.

    Well, here you go. You owe me dinner anyway. Directly from a test at BYU given *this year* in the Marriage Prep class:

    Elder Scott suggests that men should look for a prospective wife who has all the qualities EXCEPT which of the following:
    A. She is seeking an education to help prepare her for motherhood.
    B. She is actively seeking the qualities to excel as a wife and mother
    C. She desires to be a wife and mother
    D. She is acquiring and education and seeking and preparing to have a full time career.

    The correct answer for the quiz is, you guessed it, D! It is based on this 1999 conference talk by Elder Scott. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/receive-the-temple-blessings?lang=eng. The church has taught for years that women should get education. However, it has been equally clear that as soon as women contemplate a CAREER that is where the problem is. Granted it isn’t in the 2000s, but Benson’s “To the Mothers of Zion” is referenced and quoted in all the manuals – YW and RS and SS that were the base materials until just recently. Even the talk so often quoted where Hinkley expresses admiration for the nurse who attended him and declares all of human endeavor “open to women” has the distinct emphasis that the nurse is so great because it allows her the flexibility to be a mother. (Which isn’t a bad thing of course, it would be great if work was structured such that it is flexible with being a parent. Hence why we have so many Mormon men be dentists!)

    Are things changing and softening right now on this? Yes I think so. I think we will continue to see it soften. See the I am Mormon campaigns that feature working married mothers. However, I think it goes to far to say that the church leaders have been unequivocally supportive of women pursuing full-time careers. Even the current church employment policies at CES don’t allow for women to be paid seminary or institute instructors.

  • rah


    Just FYI you don’t want to go holding up BYU as a example of the state of gender equality in Mormondom. BYU has well documented gender issues. For example, they haven’t had a single woman on the engineering faculty EVER, in the school’s entire history! BYU’s business school ranks 3 spots from dead last on the percentage of female faculty and dead last among business school’s ranked in the top 50. The gender segregation by major is as high at BYU as any school in the country. I have many friends that are professors there and in every single department I know of has these issues. A lot of it is because so few LDS women go on to get PhDs in academia and among those that do that have equivalent options almost none want to deal with the headache of being the token women. The schools leave and other family-friendly policies designed to help women in academia lag far, far behind most academic institutions. BYU would do well to listen to Elder Cook’s talk and do a little soul searching.

  • Brian

    Totally agree with this comment.

    Jana- When your intent is to not cast judgement, one wouldn’t expect you to accidentally use all those words and phrases Kingfold mentions.

  • Nancy

    This is certainly an interesting topic to me. I’m a chemical engineer with a degree from BYU. There were 26 people in my graduating class, 3 of whom were women. I would say this was significantly influenced by religious preferences for women to stay at home and not plan to work outside the home. When courses got extremely difficult in sophomore and junior years, female attrition was significant. This has nothing to do with these women’s work ethic or intelligence, but much more to do with motivation. Why study and suffer (often the amount of work required was staggering) if the ultimate goal is not to work in the field? Typical chemical engineering programs have one third of their graduates female. (http://www.asee.org/papers-and-publications/publications/college-profiles/2011-profile-engineering-statistics.pdf) so the BYU percentage is significantly lower. Since I didn’t plan on getting married right away, it made sense for me to finish the degree and work for several years prior to having a family. But I was constantly questioning myself in this course of study because of my religious upbringing. The men in my program never questioned their purpose in the major since the expectation was that they would provide for a family.

    Another aspect of this issue is that I haven’t gotten married, have been working as an engineer for 8 years and have discovered that I don’t enjoy engineering. I make as much as my single, childless, male colleagues, I’m sure, but I find it frustrating that I was never encouraged to study something that I felt passionate about in order to have a fulfilling career. I was taught to prepare for motherhood and not to be too ambitious about working outside the home. I understand that encouraging men and women to marry and start families with the mother staying home breeds stability within the church. But when this doesn’t happen, our culture is fairly judgmental and the individuals within those “non-traditional” roles question their worth and contribution.

    I think we simply need to open our minds and hearts about the possible paths for all people.