Special Report

Best and Worst Cities for Women

Worst Cities for Women

10. Odessa, TX
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 56.7%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 18.4%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 42.7%

Many of the worst cities for women are in the South. While in Odessa the typical male worker earns $61,950 a year, more than the national median for men of $50,119, the typical female worker earns just $35,139 a year — nearly half of what area men earn and less than the median wage for women nationwide of $40,022 a year. The area’s gender pay gap — women earn 57 cents for every dollar earned by men — is the third widest in the country and persists despite the fact that women in Odessa are more likely to be college educated than men. While an estimated 14.1% of adult men in the metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree, 18.4% of adult women do.

Source: Thinkstock

9. Macon, GA
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 88.2%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 24.0%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 55.8%

Women in Macon earn 88 cents for every dollar men in the area earn — a narrower gender pay gap than the national gap of 80 cents on the dollar. One reason for the relatively small gender pay gap in Macon, however, may be the low wages overall. The typical area worker earns $39,252 annually, one of the lower incomes of all metro areas.

Area women also appear to be in poor health. Life expectancy among women in the area is only 77.5 years, well below the 80.8 year life expectancy among women nationwide. Also indicative of poor health is the area’s infant mortality rate of 12.2 infant deaths for every 1,000 live births, the second highest in the nation. Poor health outcomes can often be partially explained by low insurance coverage. Some 12.6% of women in the area lack health insurance, a considerably greater share than the 8.2% uninsured rate among women across the country.

Source: Matt Czarnocki / Flickr

8. Florence, SC
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 75.7%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 20.8%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 41.4%

In Florence, South Carolina, women earn only about 76 cents for every dollar men earn — considerably less than the 80 cents per dollar gender pay gap nationwide. The pay gap is a reality in the metro area despite the fact that a larger share of women in Florence are college educated than men. Some 20.8% of women in the metro area have at least a bachelor’s degree compared to 18.5% of men.

Women do not appear to be in especially good health in Florence. Life expectancy among area females is only 76.8 years, one of the lowest of any U.S. metro area.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Lake Charles, LA
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 52.9%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 24.0%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 42.4%

In the Lake Charles metro area, an estimated 24.0% of women have a bachelor’s degree, far more than the 19.0% of men who have graduated from a four-year college. While educational attainment is higher for women than for men, the typical woman in Lake Charles earns approximately 53 cents for every dollar the typical man earns, the second largest gender pay gap of all metro areas. The median annual income for men in the metro area is $56,387, nearly twice the $29,815 figure for women. The gap is even more pronounced in management occupations, wherein the typical female manager earns just 43 cents for every dollar a male manager earns — compared to 76 cents nationwide.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Lake Havasu City-Kingman, AZ
> Female earnings as pct. of male: 80.7%
> Female bachelor’s degree attainment: 12.0%
> 3 and 4-year olds enrolled in pre-K: 43.4%

Only 12% of women in Lake Havasu City-Kingman have a four-year college degree, the smallest such share of any U.S. metro area. Low educational attainment in a population often accounts for lower incomes, and Lake Havasu is one of only 16 U.S. metro areas where the median annual income for women is less than $30,000.

Though the gender pay gap in Lake Havasu is roughly in line with the national pay gap, the pay gap in certain professions is more pronounced. For every dollar men in managerial positions earn, women earn only 57 cents. Nationwide, women in management earn 76 cents for every dollar men earn.