Not All States Are Created Equal
When it comes to living and working while female in America, not all states are created equal. From sea to shining sea, states vary greatly in their offerings –– safety, economic equality and access to healthcare, for starters –– for their female citizens.
But first, let’s start with a few nationwide issues that vary widely by state and disproportionately affect women. First up, the pay gap:
Women still earn less than men across the board, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report. While the pay gap widens and narrows significantly depending on occupation, women still make an average of 82 cents for every dollar earned by men, with black women earning 64 cents and Latinas 54 cents for each dollar earned by white men.
Poverty disproportionately affects women nationwide, as well: The National Women’s Law Center reports that almost two-thirds of all workers earning minimum wage in the U.S. are women, a wage the Economic Policy Institute claims makes living above the poverty line impossible.
“Because women make less money than men and are often out of the labor market to care for children or other family members at some point in their adult lives, they often cannot save adequately for retirement or pay for health insurance or advanced education,” Robyn Muncy, professor and Interim Chair of Women’s Studies at University of Maryland, said in a statement.
“These financial inequities sustain women’s subordination to men in American life,” she said.
Maternal Death Rates
It also doesn’t help that the United States is one of the few countries in the world where the maternal mortality rate is actually rising, having increased 27 percent between 2000 and 2014, earning the U.S. the highest maternal death rate of any developed nation. These rates, too, vary from state to state, with research determining that maternal mortality rates are especially high in the District of Columbia, New Jersey, Georgia, and Arkansas, particularly among women of color.
Issues like these affect women in various parts of the country differently, which is why analysts at WalletHub compared all 50 states and the District of Columbia to create a comprehensive ranking of the best and worst states to be a woman.
The rankings work like this: WalletHub considered 19 relevant metrics in each state, including median income, health care access and affordability, and the rates of statewide gendered violence. They divided these metrics into two main categories, which are “Women’s Economic & Social Well-Being” and “Women’s Health & Safety.”
Grading each metric on a 100-point scale, with 100 points representing the “most favorable conditions,” they ranked each state numerically from best to worst.
The top 10 best states for women’s rights and opportunities are primarily east coast and midwestern states (though Hawaii and North Dakota also make the list). Southern states claim four of the five lowest spots, quickly followed by Nevada.
See where your state ranks on the list:
Best #10: Connecticut
This New England state earned itself a spot on the list as the 10th best state for women overall, with a score of 67.75. Concerning women’s health and safety, the state ranked fourth –– Wallethub awarded Connecticut fourth place for highest women’s life expectancy at birth.
At No. 16, the nutmeg state ranked more toward the middle of the road in the social and economic well-being category, which measures female earnings, poverty, unemployment, and economic equality. Connecticut earned a special shout-out for ranking fourth for lowest percentage of women in poverty.
Best #9: Iowa
Now led by its first female governor, Iowa takes its place as the ninth best state for women.
The midwestern state sports a female-friendly score of 69.23, ranking 10th-best in “Women’s Social and Economic Well Being” and ninth-best in “Women’s Health and Safety.” While WalletHub did not grant Iowa any special recognition in a specific category, it’s above-average scores in the majority of categories earns it a spot in the top 10.
Best #8: Hawaii
Yep, Hawaii has a lot more than good weather going for it. The Aloha State came in strong with a No. 8 ranking on the list, scoring 70.33 points.
The state claimed 14th best for Social and Economic equality and tied for fourth place for lowest rate of female unemployment, alongside Minnesota and Montana.
But it’s Hawaii’s health and safety ranking that truly sets it apart: Hawaii earned first place in this category, coming in at No. 1 with the highest female life expectancy at birth, No. 1 for lowest female homicide rate, and No. 4 for lowest number of uninsured women.
Best #7: Maine
Maine’s overall score of 70.58 scores it a solid spot on this list. The Pine Tree State didn’t earn any recognitions in specific categories, but it’s No. 6 “economic and social well-being” rank, along with its No. 8 “health and safety” rank, make it a good choice for women looking to relocate. And, hey, don’t discount the importance of access to freshly-caught seafood.
Best #7: Wisconsin
The Green Bay Packers, cheese, and… equitable treatment of women? Wisconsin takes home a 71.79 score in the survey. America’s Dairyland ranks well for social and economic well-being at No. 4 –– just not quite well enough to earn any shout-outs from WalletHub –– and holds the 10th-best spot on the list for women’s health and safety.
Best #5: New Hampshire
This northeastern state sports a 72.70 overall score and the No. 5 spot on the list. While, at fifth best, New Hampshire actually trails Wisconsin in social and economic well being, it jumps ahead to score the seventh-best spot for women’s health and safety. The Granite State is the proud winner in two Wallethub categories: It ranks No. 1 in lowest percentage of women in poverty and No. 1 for the lowest high school dropout rate for women.
Best #4: Massachusetts
The Bay State comes in fourth place overall with a score of 73.53. Massachusetts is second only to Hawaii in the “women’s health and safety” category, earning the top spot for lowest number of uninsured women and tying for fourth place for lowest number of female homicides.
Best #3: North Dakota
This proud red state voted Republican in 26 of 32 presidential elections. Despite WalletHub’s analysis that red states are less female-friendly than blue ones, North Dakota nears the top of the list for female-friendly states at No. 3 overall, with a 74.49.
Scoring sixth place for women’s health and safety, North Dakota has the third-lowest female homicide rate nationwide. The Roughrider State also takes third place for women’s economic health and well-being, tying for first with Nebraska for lowest female unemployment rate.
Best #2: Vermont
Vermont lands the No. 2 spot with an overall score of 76.08. Ranking third nationwide for lowest unemployment rate for women, and third again for lowest number of uninsured women, the Green Mountain State takes second place for women’s social and economic well-being and third place for women’s health and safety.
Best #1: Minnesota
The midwest strikes again! For the second year running, WalletHub ranked Minnesota as the best U.S. state to live and work in as a woman.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes earned shout-outs in several WalletHub categories, taking fifth place for lowest percentage of uninsured females, fourth place for highest percentage of women who voted in the presidential election, and second place for highest female life expectancy at birth. The state also tied for second place with Indiana for lowest high school dropout rate for women.
Your future’s looking bright in Minneapolis. Best get packing.
Worst #5: Nevada
It’s not all good news in the US of A. On the other end of list are the states that, according to Wallethub, have the lowest levels of safety, opportunity and equality for women. Fifth worst on the list is Nevada, with a failing grade of 38.56.
The silver state ranks 45th for women’s social and economic well-being: For female unemployment, it ranks 50th, beating only the District of Columbia.
Nevada also ranks 50th for women’s health and safety, an abysmal score punctuated by these shout-outs: The state is the 46th worst in the highest female homicide rate category and 50th worst for highest number of uninsured females.
Worst #4: South Carolina
Up next is South Carolina, which WalletHub cites as the fourth-worst state to be a woman.
With a score of 37.48, the Palmetto State certainly leaves room for improvement, ranking 49th for economic equality and 44th for women’s health and safety.
South Carolina is the 44th-worst state for highest female homicide rate, the study reports.
Worst #3: Alabama
Alabama pride might have you shouting “Roll tide!” whenever appropriate, but the state leaves something to be desired when it comes to gender equality.
The state ranked 47th in women’s social and economic well-being and 47th on the list for highest percentage of women in poverty.
Worse still for the Heart of Dixie, the state sports the third lowest life expectancy for women at birth nationwide, with Alabama coming in dead last for women’s health and safety.
Worst #2: Louisiana
Louisiana’s score of 35.41 earns it the second-worst spot on the list.
The state ranks 47th for female health and safety, earning spot No. 47 for highest female homicide rate.
In 51st place, the Bayou State trails behind everyone else for women’s social and economic well-being, and scored 49th place for the highest number of women in poverty.
Worst #1: Mississippi
The win nobody wants: Mississippi is the worst state to live in as a woman in 2017, according to WalletHub’s survey.
Its nickname might be the Hospitality State, but Mississippi boasts a WalletHub score of 34.01, the lowest score of any other state.
The state came in 50th for women’s social and economic well-being and 48th for women’s health and safety. It also earned itself some unenviable shout-outs: The state has the third-highest unemployment rate for women and the highest number of women in poverty, along with the lowest life expectancy rate for women.