The Modern West #16: Women Run The West, Part 1

Oct 17, 2016
Jennifer Pemberton

Women are running, but they aren’t winning the West. Western women got the right to vote almost 150 years ago, so why do they still lag in political power?

Women from across Wyoming and other states will meet at Ucross Ranch near Buffalo this week for the annual Women’s Antelope Hunt. Each new hunter will go out with an experienced mentor Friday and Saturday morning, and learn how to field dress the animal and then process the meat, which they can take home to their families. The three-day event will also include cooking classes, workshops, and a fundraising dinner open to the public.

Program Associate Rebekah Smith said the hunt is an empowering experience for participants.

Maggie Mullen

The Undersecretary, Kevin Concannon, was in Cheyenne to learn more about the organization’s approach to helping low-income single moms. Concannon said Climb Wyoming is one of the best programs of its kind in the country.

Caroline Ballard

On a hot and sunny July day Julie McCallister readied herself for a day of campaigning at Saratoga Days, decked out in her “Elect Julie McCallister” polo.

McCallister was running for the Wyoming State House seat in House District 47.

In the art show at the Platte Valley Community Center, McCallister approached potential voters, chatting about everything from the art to why she is qualified to serve.

When Women Run, Women Win...Except When They Don't

Sep 23, 2016
Jennifer Pemberton

There are currently 10 women serving in the Utah House of Representatives and 6 in the state senate. Together they make up 15% of the 104 elected state legislators. This puts Utah in the bottom 10 states for percentage of women represented in the state legislature.

There are a lot of reasons for the disparity between men and women serving as elected state officials, but according to Katie Ziegler with the National Convention of State Legislatures, none of them has to do with electability:

Ann Marsden


After public universities opened their doors to women, the chance to study music composition opened up as well. But the best known, highest paid composers still tend to be men. Composer Libby Larsen is one notable exception - she is the eminent musician-in-residence at the University of Wyoming for the 2016 – 2017 academic year.

She joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to talk about her distinctly American-sounding music and some of the biggest challenges still facing female composers.

Caroline Ballard


Nearly 150 years ago, Wyoming was the first place in the country to grant women the right to vote. Congress didn't pass the 19th amendment, guaranteeing all American women the right to vote, until 1919, and it was ratified by states in 1920. Wyoming was ahead of its time, giving women the vote in 1869, but there are conflicting accounts as to why the state was a trailblazer.

When The Equal Rights Amendment Came To Utah

Aug 26, 2016
Caroline Ballard

Women are only mentioned in the Constitution once: in the Nineteenth Amendment which grants women the right to vote. In 1923, suffragists proposed an amendment that would protect women’s rights across the board, but when the vote came to Utah, it was blocked by the Mormon Church.

Institute for Women’s Policy Research

If trends continue, Wyoming will close its gender wage gap last out of all 50 states – in the year 2159. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research predicted that date by looking at salary rates in the state from 1969 to 2013.

Julie Anderson is a Research Associate at the institute, and she joined Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard to discuss why Wyoming is such an outlier when it comes to the wage gap.


Welcome to a special edition of Open Spaces from Wyoming Public Radio News. We bring you a conversation about Women in the Wyoming Legislature…and why there are so few of them. This panel was recorded live earlier this year at the Leap Into Leadership conference, in conjunction with Leadership Wyoming Class of 2016. We’ll hear about some of the barriers that women face when they want to run for office.

We’ll discuss why it’s important to have women in the legislature, and how we can better encourage women to run for office. 

Caroline Ballard

When University of Wyoming Computer Science Freshman Catherine Clennan sent an email to her professor explaining what she hoped to get out of an upcoming internship, she didn’t think much of it.

“It took about 20 minutes. I sat down and just, you know, word vomited onto the page and I sent it to him. And he was so moved by it that he responded to me saying we should do a blog for the internship, and I was like yeah ok let’s do it. And so I set it up and published it and it just went viral,” says Clennan.

Flickr Creative Commons, by 401kcalculator.org

Wyoming has consistently ranked poorly among states when it comes to equal pay, but new research reveals the state as having the third largest lifetime wage gap in the country. Because of that gap, an average Wyoming woman makes about 651,000-dollars less than a man over the course of a 40-year-career.

Caroline Ballard


Across the United States, women make up just under a quarter of state legislators. In Wyoming, the statistics are even worse – only 13 percent of legislators are women. That makes the “Equality State” 50th in the nation. Part of the problem is no one is asking them to run. 

Bernadine Craft is a state senator from Sweetwater County, and she is the only woman in the state senate. She says that the main reason she is there is because she was asked to run by Senator Rae Lynn Job, who once held the senate seat Craft has now.

Connor Ortman / SpeakLikeAGirl.com

Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood make up the feminist, spoken-word duo Speak Like A Girl. They perform their poems around the country to call attention to issues like body image, rape culture, street harassment, and the patriarchy, and their next stop is Laramie, Wyoming. They’ll be performing at the University of Wyoming in the Education building’s auditorium at 8pm Wednesday night. Gatwood and Falley joined Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard to talk about using poetry to address misogyny.

You can find out more at www.speaklikeagirl.com

Wikimedia Commons

Planned Parenthood came under fire when videos surfaced of its employees discussing the distribution of fetal tissue for research. A bill to cut all federal funding to Planned Parenthood was blocked by the U.S. Senate, but some House Republicans say they will continue the effort to the defund the organization after summer recess.

A historian, author and educator, Shannon Smith is passionate about the humanities especially Western American, Women's, and American Indian History. She currently serves as the executive director of the Wyoming Humanities Council.

After 20 years of fearing guns, Lynn discovered that it wasn’t the gun she was afraid of it was the bad guy behind the gun. She is now the co-founder and business manager of Jackson Hole Shooting Experience. She talks about her new understanding and shares her experiences working with people to impart the fun of the shooting sports and the mental and physical fundamentals of self-defense.

Wyoming teen Megan Grassell was listed as one Time’s 25 Most Influential Teens of 2014 this week, joining the ranks of Malia Obama and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai. She spoke with Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard about her success.

With the help of a kickstarter campaign that raised $42-thousand dollars, Grassell created her own company. Yellowberry makes training bras for pre-teen and teenage girls. Grassell, 19, was inspired after taking her younger sister shopping for her first bra. All of the training bras she tried on were padded and mature-looking. 

The Wyoming Women’s annual Antelope Hunt kicks off today. The three day event is sponsored by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation and brings together 40 female hunters, including guest hunter and speaker Ashlee Lundvall. Lundvall is Ms. Wheelchair USA 2013-2014, and helped found the non-profit Wyoming Disabled Hunters.

Zachary Wheeler

Today marks the first day of the Wyoming Women’s annual Antelope Hunt.

The three-day event is sponsored by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation and brings together 40 women hunters, including guest hunter Ashlee Lundvall, this year’s Ms. Wheelchair USA.

In addition to her pageant title, Lundvall is a stay at home mom and she says that means she contributes to her family’s economic self-sufficiency because it saves them money on childcare.

Caroline Ballard

This past Sunday the White House released an ad campaign to address sexual assault on college campuses. It uses celebrities to promote speaking up if you suspect a sexual assault is in the works. But even with renewed awareness efforts, Sexual Assault remains the most underreported crime in the United States. Wyoming is no exception.

Real Women Real Bodies

An exhibit at UW’s Gallery 234 space is aiming to promote positive body image among young women. The Real Women Real Bodies gallery features 22 black and white silhouettes of nude women – all of whom are volunteers and UW students. Sydney Stein is a sophomore at UW, and the president and founder of Real Women Real Bodies. She sat down with Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard to discuss her vision. 

Courtesy Wyoming Council for Women's Issues

Wyoming’s Council for Women’s Issues will host its ninth annual career fair next month.

Open to high school girls in 9th and 10th grade, the Go WEST! fair will highlight careers in science, technology, engineering and math – fields largely dominated by men. According to the national science foundation, just 18.6 percent of US undergraduate engineering students were female in 2011.

Carma Corra, chairperson of Wyoming’s Council for Women’s Issues, says knowing the options is the first step to getting girls interested in studying science and math.

Irina Zhorov

Sixty years ago a group of women in Casper whose husbands were always leaving them for long shifts out on the oil patch got together to commiserate and lunch. The group became known as the Geowives - wives of geologists - and it’s celebrating its diamond anniversary this spring. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov attended the Geowives’ monthly luncheon and has this story. 

IRINA ZHOROV: Bette Faust is one of the charter members of the Geowives, and a Wyoming native who came to Casper in the 1950s.

Melodie Edwards

Some of the best paying jobs in Wyoming are in the oil and gas industry, but only ten percent are held by women.  Energy companies are trying to attract more women to fill open positions.  But women who do want to enter the field for the higher-paying jobs face a lot of barriers. Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards reports.

Wyoming continues to have the worst gender pay gap in the country, and the gulf is widening. According to a new report released by the National Partnership for Women and Families. Wyoming women made only 64 cents for every dollar that men in the state made. That amounts to an annual wage gap of over $18,000 dollars.

Chelsea Biondolillo

Modern roller derby is a contact sport that features two teams roller skating on a track, attempting to score by passing players of the opposing team. While the sport’s origins can be traced back to beginning of the 20th century, it was revived in the early 2000s in Texas…BY women and FOR women.

Since then, teams have started up all over the world. Wyoming has been a late adopter of the sport, but women here are making up for lost time.

[AMBI Sports announcer: “And she makes it through! That is a grand slam folks!]