The Best and Worst States for Women: Ranking Gender Inequality in America

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Pierre, South Dakota

46. South Dakota
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 78.1% (20th lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 29.3% (the lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 0% (the lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 21.0% (18th lowest)

There are eight states that provide no pre-K funding, and South Dakota is one of them. With no state-funded pre-K program, women with young children are less likely to be able to participate in the workforce, ultimately making them more likely to be financially dependent.

Those women who are working in the state earn considerably less than their male counterparts. The typical full-time salary among women in the state is only $33,268, well below the $42,605 salary of the typical male worker in South Dakota.

Provo, Utah

47. Utah
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 71.1% (4th lowest)
> Pct. of mgmt. jobs held by women: 34.5% (4th lowest)
> Pct. of children enrolled in state pre-K: 0% (the lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 15.4% (7th lowest)

Few states have a wider gender pay gap than Utah. The typical male worker in the state is paid $50,741, while his female counterpart earns $36,060, or nearly $15,000 less.

The substantial gap between male and female earnings in Utah is likely due in part to unequal pay for the similar work. It can also potentially be attributed to the kinds of jobs women tend to hold in the state. If educational attainment is any indication, Utah women may be less represented in jobs that require a college degree, and are usually higher-paying. Just 29.3% of state women have a college education, compared to 34.4% of men in the state.

Mountain hilking trail leads the Idaho mountains

48. Idaho
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 73.5% (8th lowest)
> Pct. of mgmt. jobs held by women: 38.8% (19th lowest)
> Pct. of children enrolled in state pre-K: 0% (the lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 27.6% (17th highest)

The earnings gap between men and women in Idaho is one of the worst in the country. The typical male in the state working full time earns $43,264, while the typical working female earns only $31,808, the lowest median salary of any state except Mississippi.

In addition to earning less, women are underrepresented in public office. All four of the state’s congressional delegates are men and a woman has never been elected governor of Idaho.

Wyoming

49. Wyoming
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 64.4% (the lowest)
> Pct. of mgmt. jobs held by women: 39.1% (21st lowest)
> Pct. of children enrolled in state pre-K: 0% (the lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 13.3% (2nd lowest)

In 1869, Wyoming became the first state in the country to grant women’s suffrage, roughly five decades before Congress passed the 19th Amendment. Despite being a leader in this important milestone, conditions in Wyoming today are some of the least favorable for women.

No state, for example, has a wider gender pay gap than Wyoming. The typical female worker earns $36,064, or just 64.4% of the $55,965 male median earnings in the state.

Biloxi Beach at Sunset, Mississippi

50. Mississippi
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 75.7% (11th lowest)
> Pct. of mgmt. jobs held by women: 38.4% (16th lowest)
> Pct. of children enrolled in state pre-K: 2.2% (14th lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 17.2% (10th lowest)

While poor economic conditions affect many Mississippi residents, women are more likely to be negatively affected. The typical salary among women working full time in Mississippi is $31,110, the lowest of any state in the country and equal to roughly $0.76 for each dollar earned by men in the state.

The workplace in Mississippi, for both private and public sector jobs, is not especially accommodating for pregnant women or those with families, as Mississippi has not passed any significant legislation expanding on federal protections laid out in 1993’s Family & Medical Leave Act. The lack of consideration for working women may be due in part to a lack of female leadership in state government. Only 17% of Mississippi’s legislature is female, one of the smallest such shares in the country.