Special Report

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

Downtown Omaha at sunset Nebraska
Source: Thinkstock

31. Nebraska
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 78.8% (23rd lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 34.7% (5th lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 22.1% (14th highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 22.4% (20th lowest)

That women are less likely to be hired for upper-level and management positions, also known as the glass ceiling, appears to be a serious problem in Nebraska. Just 34.7% of all management positions in the state are held by women, the fifth lowest percentage in the country.

Despite this problem, Nebraska’s gender pay gap is not as severe as in some states. The typical female worker earns $36,834, or 78.8% of the median earnings for males in the state.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 2
Source: Thinkstock

32. Pennsylvania
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 78.9% (25th lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 40.0% (25th lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 8.9% (24th lowest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 18.2% (12th lowest)

Women hold very few elected positions in Pennsylvania’s government. The state has never had a female governor and none of its 20 congressional delegates are women. Furthermore, only 18% of the state legislature is female, one of the smaller shares of any state.

With relatively few female politicians, Pennsylvania is not typically the site of major progressive legislation related to maternity. There are no mandated pregnancy accommodations or paid sick time or family leave for public or private sector employees in the Keystone State.

Detroit, Michigan
Source: Thinkstock

33. Michigan
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 74.3% (9th lowest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 38.8% (19th lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 16.1% (19th highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 20.9% (17th lowest)

Women are more likely to stay employed when states mandate more flexible time off policies during and after pregnancy, and when they provide accommodations for parents with newborn children. Of the 14 major policies we reviewed related to maternity, Michigan is one of just nine states that does not impose requirements on public or private employers in any of these categories.

Louisville, Kentucky
Source: Thinkstock

34. Kentucky
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 82.0% (15th highest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 38.0% (12th lowest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 17% (17th highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 16.7% (8th lowest)

Women’s interests are likely not fully represented by elected officials in Kentucky as less than 17% of the state legislature and none of the eight congressional delegates are female. Perhaps, not surprisingly, the state has some of the least progressive worker protections regarding pregnancy and family leave in the country.

Kentucky women are also far more likely than those in other parts of the country to be financially insecure. More than one in four women in Kentucky live in poverty, one of the largest shares in the country.

Atlanta, Georgia 3
Source: Thinkstock

35. Georgia
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 80.7% (22nd highest)
> Pct. mgmt. jobs held by women: 40.2% (23rd highest)
> Pct. 3-4 yr. olds enrolled in state pre-K: 29.7% (8th highest)
> Pct. legislative seats held by women: 23.7% (22nd lowest)

Georgia offers a state-funded pre-K program that makes it easier for women with young children to participate in the labor force. The program is a relative success as well over half of all four-year-olds are enrolled. There is room for improvement, however, as three-year-olds are not eligible for the program.

Due to the size of its population, Georgia has one of the largest congressional delegations of any state. Despite its size, and the increased opportunity for gender diversity, none of the 16 congressmen that represent the Peach State on Capitol Hill are women.

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