Special Report

The 10 Worst States for Women

4. Mississippi
> Gender wage gap: 77 cents per dollar (16th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 26.6% (the highest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 17.2% (21st lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 10.0 per 1,000 births (the highest)

A typical male in Mississippi earned less than $40,000 last year — less than male populations in any other state — and women in the state earned nearly $10,000 less than their male counterparts. Not only were incomes the lowest across the board, but women earned just 77% of what men made that year, one of the larger gender pay gaps. Mississippi residents, and women in particular, also had exceptionally poor rates of educational attainment. Less than 84% of women in the state had completed at least high school as of last year, versus 87.2% of women across the country. Like a handful of other states, only men represent Mississippi in the U.S. Congress. While women were relatively underrepresented in Mississippi politics, 42.5% of all management positions in the state were held by women, a higher proportion than in all but a few other states. Unfortunately, this did not seem to result in higher wages for women.

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3. Idaho
> Gender wage gap: 76 cents per dollar (13th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 16.2% (7th lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 26.7% (17th highest)
> Infant mortality rate: 6.0 per 1,000 births (16th highest)

The state of Idaho does not offer funded pre-kindergarten programs for kids. While some parents in the state elect to pay for private preschool, some school districts choose to finance their own programs without state-level help. Additionally, few states had fewer women in management roles than Idaho, where only one-third of such jobs were filled by women. Idaho also lacks family-friendly paid leave and sick time laws. And the state decided not to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which hurts women especially. According to a 2012 report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “Because women are more likely than men to fall into one of the eligibility categories for Medicaid and are more likely than men to be poor, women comprise over two-thirds of beneficiaries.”

2. Wyoming
> Gender wage gap: 69 cents per dollar (2nd worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 12.1% (7th lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 15.6% (5th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 6.8 per 1,000 births (24th highest)

Wyoming had one of the country’s largest pay disparities between men and women. The median earnings for a woman working full-time, year-round was just $35,829, slightly lower than the U.S. median. By contrast, the comparable figure for men was close to $52,000, among the highest nationwide. One reason for the disparity may be the number of jobs directly, or even indirectly, tied to coal mining. Mining jobs are typically male dominated. While gender pay gaps are often thought to reflect career choices or social dynamics — such as women taking time off from their careers to raise a child — the Council of Economic Advisors reported in March that wage gaps “are seen even when men and women are working side-by-side performing similar tasks.” Outside of just pay, however, adult women in Wyoming were the most likely in America to be high school graduates, with 94% having earned their diploma as of last year.

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1. Utah
> Gender wage gap: 70 cents per dollar (4th worst)
> Poverty rate, women: 13.6% (13th lowest)
> Pct. in state legislature: 16.3% (6th lowest)
> Infant mortality rate: 5.0 per 1,000 births (2nd lowest)

Utah is the worst state for women. Less than 31% of management positions were held by women in Utah, the second lowest rate nationwide. Women were also less likely than women in the vast majority of states to hold leadership roles in government. Of the 75 seats in the state’s House of Representatives, just six were filled by women last year. And there were just five female state-level senators. In all, women made up just 16.3% of state legislators, less than in all but five other states. Perhaps the lack of women in traditionally high-paying management and high-level government occupations has exacerbated the gender pay gap. While a typical man in Utah earned more than $50,000 last year, most women made 70% — or $35,252 — of that figure, nearly the largest pay discrepancy in the country.

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