The 10 Worst States for Women

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5. Mississippi
> Wage gap: 76 cents per dollar (tied for 11th lowest)
> Poverty rate, women and girls: 26.70% (the highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 16.1% (5th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 9.7 per 1,000 births (the highest)

As of 2012, Mississippi had the worst female poverty rate in the nation, with more than one in four women and girls living under the poverty line. In addition to its high poverty, Mississippi also received an “F” for women’s health. The state had one of the worst infant mortality rates in the country as of 2010, although the Mississippi State Department of Health reported recently that this figure has improved. The state also has one of the country’s highest rates of uninsured females and will not participate in the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Mississippi residents also must go without any kind of paid family, sick or temporary disability leave, for which there are no state policies.

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4. Alabama
> Wage gap: 71 cents per dollar (5th lowest)
> Poverty rate, women and girls: 20.90% (5th highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 14.3% (4th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 8.7 per 1,000 births (2nd highest)

More than one in every five women or girls in Alabama lived below the poverty line as of 2012. According to the CAP study, if the minimum wage were increased to $10.10 by 2015, nearly 300,000 women in Alabama would benefit directly or indirectly. Infant mortality in Alabama was the second highest rate in the nation last year, after Mississippi. This could be due in part to the relatively low availability of medical doctors specializing in pregnancy, labor or birth — in 2012, there was roughly one obstetrician or gynecologist in the state for every 15,000 women.

3. Oklahoma
> Wage gap: 76 cents per dollar (tied for 11th lowest)
> Poverty rate, women and girls: 18.70% (14th highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 13.4% (3rd lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 7.6 per 1,000 births (8th highest)

The wage gap in Oklahoma was better than most states in the nation last year, and women in the state fared moderately well, based on factors associated with economic security. Relative to the country as a whole, the second-highest percentage of four-year-olds were enrolled in state funded pre-kindergarten programs. With respect to health issues, however, Oklahoma rates as the worst state for women. Women in the state were among the most likely to die from pregnancy-related complications. As of 2010, the infant mortality rate in the state was among the worst in country. Nearly 21% of women in the state were also uninsured, the fifth highest percentage in the nation, and the state will not be expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.

2. Utah
> Wage gap: 70 cents per dollar (tied for 3rd lowest)
> Poverty rate, women and girls: 13.60% (tied for 12th lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 16.3% (6th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 4.9 per 1,000 births (10th lowest)

Utah is represented in Congress exclusively by men. This is also the case for all of Utah’s elected officials in its executive branch, which includes positions such as the governor, labor commissioner, attorney general and state treasurer. In 2012, women did not fare much better in the private sector, holding just over 30% of management jobs in the state, the third lowest rate nationally. Since management positions tend to have higher wages, the low rate at which females occupy these jobs in the state may be widening the pay gap between men and women. On average, a woman, regardless of race, only made about 70 cents for every $1.00 a man made in Utah in 2012. This was the third worst gap in the country.

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1. Louisiana
> Wage gap: 67 cents per dollar (2nd lowest)
> Poverty rate, women and girls: 22.20% (2nd highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 11.8% (the lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 7.6 per 1,000 births (7th highest)

Louisiana ranks as the worst state for women in the country. Reflecting its poor record of filling leadership roles with women, just 11.8% of seats in the state legislature were held by women last year, the lowest of any state. Many women also struggled to be economically secure. According to the CAP study, more than 300,000 women in Louisiana stand to benefit from a potential minimum wage increase to $10.10 by 2015. On average, a woman in Louisiana made $0.67 for every $1.00 a man made in 2012, the second worst gap in the country. The mortality rate for both infants and mothers was among the worst in the country in 2010. As of last year, female residents in Louisiana, and especially minority women, were among the most likely Americans to be uninsured.