The Project was created in 2009 and is housed in the Woodbury School of Business at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah.
The mission of the Utah Women & Leadership Project (UWLP) is to strengthen the impact of Utah girls and women through informing, engaging, and developing their voices, confidence, influence, and leadership. This is done primarily through research, events, and resources.
UWLP Team (from left to right, Megan Roper, Karen Deardeuff, Kimberly Williamson, Susan Madsen, Robbyn Scribner, & Heather Sundahl)
The seeds for the UWLP were laid in 2008 when Utah’s Commissioner of Higher Education approached Dr. Susan R. Madsen, a professor of organizational leadership in the Woodbury School of Business, about the troubling status of women and education within the state of Utah. This conversation led to the creation of a “one-year” major research endeavor focused on how to increase the rates of women attending and graduating from college. By 2011, it became clear that a more organized effort was needed to advance a social change movement in Utah, so Dr. Madsen expanded and extended the work. Because research and other resources have been so important in leading change, they have continued to be the focus and driving force for these projects and initiatives. In 2013, Dr. Madsen formed the UWLP primarily because of continuous requests for additional research on women and leadership in the state. These endeavors have served as a hub for many coordinating efforts promoting change for girls and women throughout Utah.
UVU President Astrid Tuminez Speaking at Event
Even with a small staff, the UWLP makes a major impact: over the past decade, this team has written and published 70 research reports, hosted hundreds of events, and created and released 100+ related resources including infographics, podcasts, videos, curricula, databases, and toolkits.
The Project leads social change in Utah by 1) publishing research briefs, snapshots, impact recommendations, and reports; 2) providing workshops, seminars, and other gatherings to help prepare and advance women of all ages for leadership; 3) gathering and creating resources; 4) assisting women in finding women’s groups, networks, and associations; and 5) partnering and collaborating with entities that have related goals and efforts (e.g., nonprofits, associations, colleges/universities, K-12 schools, companies, churches).
UWLP staff receive emails nearly every day from individuals explaining how a report they read, a speech they heard, or a resource they used has made all the difference in their lives. For example, Dr. Madsen recently received the following email:
“I am a single mother with five children and was a college drop out. I heard you speak three years ago about the importance of attending and completing college. I went home that day and registered for college at a local university and started attending a few months later. I wanted you to know that I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in May and have just started my master’s degree. It has changed my life, and it has changed my family. We have hope, and I have confidence in my future as a woman, mother, and contributor to society.”
This is why Dr. Madsen and her team put their hearts into this work—to change lives, one girl and one woman at a time. The UWLP’s mission to strengthen the impact of girls and women in Utah is making a profound difference to women, men, families, communities, and the state as a whole.