Miss Utah Flub Demonstrates Gender Pay Gap’s PR Problem

Last night’s Miss Utah flub during the Miss USA pageant is the sort of contestant freeze up to which we’ve become accustomed, and poor 21-year-old Marissa Powell was clearly out of her depth when asked about the gender pay gap.

The question from Real Housewives of Atlanta star NeNe Leakes prompting the Miss Utah flub referenced a common issue women in the workforce face. In addition to the physical and medical setbacks caused by pregnancy for mothers, women in general still make more than twenty cents less on the dollar than men.

While the Miss Utah flub definitely reflected poorly on Powell, it’s a common area of ignorance in the American population at large. Many are simply unaware that women are paid less money for equal work, and Powell’s clear panic at the question is just another prominent example.

Leakes posed the query during that part of the pageant during which contestants are made to answer questions, addressing recent reports that female workers are outpacing their husbands in terms of earnings but still yield less.

She said:

“A recent report shows that in 40 percent of American families with children, women are the primary earners, yet they continue to earn less than men. What does it say about society?”

Powell was less than clear in not only her answer, but it would appear her basic understanding of the question at hand. She replied:

“I think we can relate this back to education, and how we are continuing to try to strive… to… figure out how to create jobs right now. That is the biggest problem right now.”

It gets worse.

Going full on “what?” mode, Miss Utah’s flub continued as she answered:

“I think, especially the men are… um… seen as the leaders of this, and so we need to see how to… create education better. So that we can solve this problem. Thank you.”

If anything, the Miss Utah flub does indeed suggest we need to “create education better,” and perhaps we should start with briefing pageant contestants on feminism and gender pay gap issues.

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