Special Report

The Easiest (and Toughest) Cities to Be a Woman

The fight for women’s equality is one of the most enduring social justice issues in the United States. Many of the goals established in the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, over a century and a half ago have since been achieved, including the right to vote. In some states women won the right to vote even before the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Nationwide, however, some of the ideals expressed in the convention have yet to be met.

The median earnings of women working full-time in the United States is $41,453, only about 81% of the median earnings of men. Women are also far less likely than men to work in management positions. Gaps such as these exist despite the fact that today women are more likely to have a college education than men, which should make more women better-qualified for high-paying, leadership roles. This may suggest that deeper, more entrenched issues stand in the way of gender equality.

The gaps along gender lines are not even across the country. In some cities, they are far worse than the average nationwide, while in others, the gap in such measures is very narrow. Using metropolitan area level data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 24/7 Wall St. created an index of six measures to identify the 10 best — and 10 worst — cities for women. 

Index measures were chosen to reflect both disparities between men and women as well as overall quality of life conditions for women. The measures include: gender pay gap for full-time work, female employment in management roles, bachelor’s degree attainment among women, female life expectancy, uninsured rates, and preschool enrollment.

According to a recent Pew study, American attitudes toward parenting show mothers face far greater pressure than fathers to take on parenting responsibilities. Additionally, about one in every four mothers in the United States are raising children on their own. The demands of parenting can be difficult to balance while pursuing a career, and widely available preschool can make it easier for all parents, and especially for working mothers. 

In each of the 10 best cities for women, the share of 3- and 4-year olds enrolled in preschool is greater than the 48.0% share nationwide. Meanwhile, preschool enrollment is lower than average in all but one 10 of the worst cities for women. Here is a state-by-state look at early childhood education programs.

Click here to see the easiest cities for women
Click here to see the toughest cities for women
Click here to read our methodology