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Utah Women & Leadership Project reports on status of Asian women in Utah

By Genelle Pugmire - Daily Herald | May 9, 2022

Photo supplied, Utah Women & Leadership Project

The Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah State University recently completed a report on the status of Asian women living in Utah.

As part of an ongoing series, the Utah Women & Leadership Project at Utah State University, headed by Susan Madsen, has released information on the status of Asian women in the state.

Among some of the research team's finding are the following:

  • Utah Asian women are more likely to be married and less likely to divorce compared to all women in Utah and nationwide, and all Asian women nationally.
  • Asian women in Utah fare better in physical health measures. Utah Asian women are more likely to be insured, more likely to receive preventive care like pap smears and mammograms, and have lower rates of breast cancer, cervical cancer and obesity.
  • Both Utah and U.S. Asian women are more likely to attain a college degree compared to all Utah women and all women in America overall. Utah Asian women also have higher college enrollment rates.
  • Utah Asian women tend to have higher rates of poverty compared to all Utah women. But, the trend is reverse nationally, with U.S. Asian women having lower rates of poverty compared to all U.S. women. There are most likely poverty rate differences between different Asian ethnicities, the research team surmises; however, they were not able to locate more specific data.

Madsen's team noted that Utah could do better on data collecting, particularly when it comes to women and diversity.

"Decision-makers need to ensure data on women of color is collected for all issues affecting women and is accessible for data-informed program and policymaking purposes," Madsen said. "This is especially true for the Asian population, which represents 20 different ethnicities representing countries of various levels of economic development."

Last year, the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute released a databook on race, ethnicity and sex. That report found that Utah is becoming increasingly diverse, resulting in wide disparities between most minority groups and the white population in terms of education, housing and health outcomes, the research team noted.

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, the UWLP team stated in a research summary, meaning the community, decision-makers, and policymakers do not receive "the depth of information needed to design programs and policies that meet the diverse needs of all Utah women."

The UWLP's analysis of Asian women in Utah is the second of five studies examining Utah women of each census race/ethnic category: Pacific Islander, Asian, Black, Hispanic/Latino and Native American.

This research snapshot highlights both the available data and the information gaps that can, if filled, help local and state decision-makers and leaders to understand and address the needs of Utah Asian girls and women, according to Madsen.

Researchers used the U.S. census description for "Asian": "A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian sub-continent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam." The term "Asian" represents more than 20 different ethnicities and multiple geographical regions.

"We sought data across broad categories that impact Utah women, such as civic engagement, child care access, utility connectivity, domestic violence, caregiver status, unpaid care work, housing, transportation, access to healthy food and food insecurity," Madsen said.

"Unfortunately, much of this information is unavailable for a variety of reasons. Specific data have not been collected," she added.

Available demographic data on Utah Asian women include population size, household size, family household type and marital status. The research group's findings for these areas include:

  • The Utah Asian population has seen steady growth over time and now comprises 2.5% of the state's population. In 2010, 55,265 Utahns identified as Asian, and by 2020 the number had increased to 83,583. The Asian population is projected to grow significantly through 2065, when it is expected to comprise 4.0% of Utah's population (rising to more than 200,000).
  • The average household size of Asian women in Utah is 2.8 people, slightly above the average of 2.7 for Asian women across the U.S. and in between 3.0 for Utah women and 2.5 for all American women.
  • More than three quarters (79.9%) of Utah Asian households consist of married couple families, compared to 81.7% of all Utah families and 82.1% of U.S. Asian households.
  • Just over 60% of Asian women in Utah are married, which is higher than the rates for all U.S. women (48.7%) and similar to that of all Utah women (56.9%). Twenty-seven percent have never been married, similar to 27.3% of all Utah women and 30.4% of all women in the U.S. Asian women have separation rates similar to those of all Utah women (1.7% vs. 1.6%) and comparable rates of widowhood (5.5% vs. 5.6%); however, divorce rates for Asian women in Utah are much lower than for all Utah women (5.8% vs. 10.2%).


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