Special Report

Ranking Gender Inequality in All 50 States

Miami South Beach, Florida
Source: Thinkstock

21. Florida
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 86.6% (3rd highest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 39.9% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 38.2% (3rd highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 25.0% (22nd highest)

State sponsored pre-K programs make it easier for women with young children to work and remain financially secure. Florida’s pre-K program is one of the most successful in the country as more than three-quarters of four-year-olds in the state are enrolled. There is room for improvement, however, as the state does not offer taxpayer-funded pre-K for three-year-olds.

The state could also do more to expand working women’s rights in the private sector. While public sector employees can take more than the 12 weeks unpaid time off for family issues mandated by the federal government, private sector workers have no such guarantee.

Sonoran Desert in Full Spring Bloom, Arizona
Source: Thinkstock

22. Arizona
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 83.5% (12th highest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 42.0% (11th highest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 4.2% (18th lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 35.6% (3rd highest)

Women have greater influence on Arizona law than in nearly any other state. Roughly 36% of Arizona’s state legislature is comprised of women, a higher share than all but three other states. Additionally, four of Arizona’s governors have been women, including Janet Napolitano, who went on to serve as the Secretary of Homeland Security under President Barack Obama.

Despite the share of women elected to state government, Arizona has some of the weakest family-related workplace protections in the country. Accommodations for pregnant workers are not mandated, and there are no paid or extended unpaid leave guarantees for workers in either private or public sector jobs.

Two seaplanes parked at a harbor, Ketchikan, Alaska
Source: Thinkstock

23. Alaska
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 77.9% (19th lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 40.2% (23rd highest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 1.5% (12th lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 28.3% (15th highest)

More than 15% of women in Alaska do not have health insurance, which is the second highest percentage in the country. A lack of insurance may mean some women are unable to get the care they need, and this can affect outcomes related to health issues specific to women, such as pregnancy. However, the state’s rate of maternal death during childbirth and its infant mortality rate are each among the lowest in the country.

View of mountains in the Potomac Highlands of West Virginia.
Source: Thinkstock

24. West Virginia
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 70.6% (3rd lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 40.7% (19th highest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 39.5% (2nd highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 14.9% (6th lowest)

While women typically earn less than men nationwide, the gender pay gap is an even bigger issue in West Virginia. Women working full-time typically earn less than 71% of what men earn. Nationwide, women earn 80% of the typical male salary.

Still, women in West Virginia with young children are more likely to work, and remain financially secure, than in many other states due to the taxpayer-funded pre-K program. In West Virginia, 39.5% of three- and four-year-olds are enrolled in a state-funded pre-K program, the second largest share in the country.

Fayetteville, Arkansas suburbs
Source: Thinkstock

25. Arkansas
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 78.9% (24th lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 40.0% (25th lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 29.9% (7th highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 20.0% (15th lowest)

Women are clearly underrepresented in elected office in Arkansas. None of the state’s six congressional representatives are female and the state has never had a female governor.

Despite the lack of female representation in Arkansas politics, the state has a taxpayer-funded pre-K system that makes it easier for both parents to participate in the workforce. Slightly more than 21% of three-year-olds in the state are enrolled in public pre-K.

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