Special Report

Best and Worst Cities for Women

Source: Thinkstock

5. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 74.6%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 47.2%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 59.7%

The median salary among women in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara is $60,491 a year, more than in any other U.S. metro area. Despite the higher earnings, there is still a large gender pay gap in the metro area — larger than the average nationwide. Women in the area earn only about 75 cents for every dollar area men earn, while nationwide women earn about 80 cents for every dollar men earn.

San Jose metro area parents — and mothers in particular — likely benefit from a widely accessible pre-K program. An estimated 59.7% of area 3 and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool, well above the comparable 47.6% national enrollment rate.

Source: Thinkstock

4. Boulder, CO
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 76.6%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 60.0%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 63.3%

Adults with a bachelor’s degree tend to have better employment opportunities and overall a better sense of control over their lives. In the Boulder metropolitan area, 60% of area women have a bachelor’s degree — nearly double that of the national share and the highest of any metropolitan area. Likely as a result, Boulder women tend to earn relatively high wages — at least relative to women nationwide. The typical female worker earns nearly $50,000 a year, about $10,000 more than the national median wage for women. However, Boulder men are paid even more, at a median of $65,215 a year. The gender wage gap in Boulder, despite the women’s high wages, is larger than it is on average nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

3. Iowa City, IA
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 86.3%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 46.7%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 55.5%

Some 46.7% of women in Iowa City have at least a bachelor’s degree — a considerably larger share than the 40.4% of men in the metro area. Though it is not always the case, the higher educational attainment rate of women in Iowa City may have put a dent in the metro area’s gender pay gap. Women in Iowa City earn 86 cents for every dollar men earn. Nationwide, women only earn 80 cents on the dollar.

A high preschool enrollment rate often helps support high workforce participation among mothers. In Iowa City, 55.5% of 3 and 4-year-olds are enrolled in a pre-K program, above the comparable 46.7% share nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 83.6%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 47.1%
> Pre-school enrollment: 57.5%

Women in the San Francisco metropolitan area can expect to live to be 83.6 years old, about four years longer than their male counterparts, and longer than most other cohorts of women in general. There is another gender-based gap in San Francisco, but this one does not favor women. The typical woman earns about 84 cents for every dollar the typical male worker earns. That difference, while substantial, is not as large as the average across all metropolitan areas — the gender pay gap nationwide is about 20%. The typical women working in San Francisco still earn nearly $60,000, more than nearly any other state.

Source: Thinkstock

1. Ithaca, NY
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 79.5%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 53.9%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 70.6%

Upstate New York’s Ithaca, home to Cornell University, is the best city for women. In Ithaca, a very high share of women are highly educated, women earn relatively high wages, and relatively few lack health insurance. An estimated 53.9% of adult women in Ithaca have at least a bachelor’s degree, the third largest share of any metro area.

Ithaca also has one of the highest rates of school enrollment among children of pre-K age, a fact that often facilitates more women participating in the workforce. While nationwide less than half of all 3 and 4-year olds attend preschool, in Ithaca more than 70% of young children are enrolled in a pre-K program. While the typical Ithaca woman is paid better than the typical woman across the U.S., she is still paid less than men in the area. Women in Ithaca earn nearly 80 cents for every dollar men earn, in line with the national gender pay gap.

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