Highly opinionated, local female politicians spoke out about how getting women involved in politics can better our country, state and town.
“Women in Politics,” an event sponsored by the Women’s Resource Program at Dixie State University, was held March 19 in the Boeing Auditorium in the Udvar-Hazy Building. This event was held in honor of women and improving the authority and presence of women in American politics. Three female politicians with different political views spoke at this event: Republican Shauna Jo Larkin, Independent Marianne Sorensen and Democrat Dorothy Engelman.
Engleman said women need to step out of their comfort zone and start participating in more politics. She said how this meeting was very important because a lot of people don’t realize how big of a difference having strong-willed women involved in politics is. If more women were involved there would be more equality between men and women in the country.
Lacy Culpepper, a senior English major from Clinton, and also an intern for the DSU’s Women’s Resource Program said the event went very well.
“I was most impressed by the quality of conversations between the speakers and attendees,” Culpepper said. “More specifically, I recall a moment when both Dorothy Engelman and Shauna Jo Larkin averred they could easily work together on a committee that was dedicated to the development of women. To me, that demonstrated that gender equality transcends political boundaries and is an issue that all, regardless of gender or political affiliation, need to continually work to improve.”
Student attendee, Drew Boatright, a sophomore business major from St. George, agreed with most of what Engelman had to say about women in politics.
“I think it is very important that women are involved in politics,” said Boatright. “Just like the importance of having diverse races, it is necessary that there are both males and females guiding our country and our town.”
Engelman said that Utah is at the bottom of many lists when it comes to women holding political and leadership positions. The only way those numbers can change is if women step up and run for those positions. Half of the population is made up of women, but only 24 percent of political positions held in our government are possessed by women. Politics affect everyone, and women need to start thinking ahead of time and preparing for what lies ahead in our government.
“Young women need to realize that politics do affect them, ” Engelman said. “Those decisions that people are making in government positions will affect them as mothers, as a single woman and as a daughter caring for elderly parents.”
According to an article by the Huffington Post titled “Women And Equal Pay: Wage Gap Still Intact, Study Shows,” women make only 77 percent of what men earn for comparable work in the nation. For women in Utah, they only earn 70 percent of what men make. The article also said in Utah, Louisiana, West Virginia and Alabama the pay difference for a high school graduate compared to an undergraduate degree is enormous for women.
Engelman said if women were more involved in politics there is a lot higher chance that the difference in pay for men and women would be smaller. She also said if there are less females than males voting for these kinds of laws to pass of course women will always end up with the lower end of the deal.
“Women have most of the same rights that men have, so they should be involved in politics just as much as men are,” said Kelby Merrill, a sophomore biology major from Salt Lake City. “I also think that women should get paid the same amount as men do.”
Engelman said women need to “step up” and “pay it forward.” There is a job for everyone in the political process, women included. Women need to get educated and be prepared to be a part of this government, she said. If women want to move forward, they need to think about where they want to end up and who they want to support. Engelman said women have to be asked to take important positions.
“Passion is something that is extremely important if women are going to step up into politics,” Engelman said. “Passion is one of those things that enables a woman to say ‘I can do this and I will do this.’ Find your voice, find something you’re passionate about, and step up and do something about it.”