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Best & Worst States for Women

To shed light on women’s issues, Wise Voter ventures to discover how well each U.S. state serves its women in six life factors — Employment & Earnings, Work & Family, Health & Well-Being, Safety, Politics, and Education.

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a notable socio-economic toll on women, and the United States President Joe Biden acknowledged it in his first State of the Union address — mentioning a trio of socioeconomic issues that need to better address women: workplace infrastructures, health care, and right for justice and liberty. 

To shed light on women’s issues, Wise Voter ventures to discover how well each U.S. state serves its women in six life factors — Employment & Earnings, Work & Family, Health & Well-Being, Safety, Politics, and Education. Ranks for best and worst states for women are built upon the meticulous research and analysis with the help of dozens of data gathered from government branches, accredited higher education institutions, and reliable private research firms. How each rank is measured is detailed below.

Rankings of Best & Worst States for Women

Category Breakdown

Methodology

To rank the best and worst states for women in the U.S., Wise Voter compared the 50 states across six key dimensions:

  1. Employment & Earnings
  2. Work & Family
  3. Health & Well-Being
  4. Safety
  5. Politics 
  6. Education

We gauged the six dimensions using 59 relevant metrics listed below with their corresponding weight. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 being the max. 

One last note, we ruled each state’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and employed the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Employment & Earnings (18 points) 

Median Weekly Earnings: Double Weight (2.77 points)

Note: This metric measures the measures the median weekly earning of women aged 16 and older who work full time.

Gender Pay Gap: Double Weight (2.77 points)

Note: This metric measures the ratio of women’s to men’s weekly earnings.

Labor Force Participation: Double Weight (2.77 points)

Note: This metric measures the labor force participation rate for women ages from 20 to 64.

Unemployment: Double Weight (2.77 points)

Note: This metric measures the rate of women aged 16 and older who don’t work full or part time.

Remote Job: Half Weight (0.69 points)

Note: This metric measures the number of remote jobs available per 1,000 unemployed adults aged 18 and older in labor force.

Project-Based Job: Half Weight (0.69 points)   

Note: This metric measures a number of project-based job available per 1,000 unemployed Americans age over 18 in labor force.

Women-Owned Businesses: Regular Weight (1.38 points) 

Note This metric measures the women business ownership rate among all businesses.

General Poverty: Double Weight (2.77 points) 

Note: This metric measures the rate of females of all ages whose annual incomes are below the federal poverty threshold.

Female Household Poverty: Regular Weight (1.38 points)

Note: This metric measures the rate of female-headed households whose annual household incomes are in the bottom 20 percent among the entire female-headed households. 

Work & Family (15 points)

Paid Leave Legislation: Double Weight (2.4 points) 

Note: This metric delves into states that provide or will provide a paid family leave benefit to working mothers. 

Workplace Pregnancy Discrimination: Double Weight (2.4 points)

Note: This metric delves into states that ban any pregnancy discrimination at workplaces. 

Pregnancy Accommodation: Double Weight (2.4 points)  

Note: This metric delves into states that require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees.

Workplace Breast-Feeding Rights: Double Weight (2.4 points) 

Note: This metric delves into states with laws that ensure breast-feeding rights at workplaces.

Child Care Tax Credits: Regular Weight (1.2 points)

Note: This metric delves into states that provide childcare tax credits.

Child Care Costs: Regular Weight (1.2 points) 

Note: This metric measures the share of annual childcare cost for two kids from a median family’s income.

Child Care Workers: Regular Weight (1.2 points) 

Note: This metric measures the location quotient of childcare workers per state.

Child Care for Working Moms: Regular Weight (1.2 points)   

Note: This metric measures the share of working mothers ages from 25 to 34 whose childcare cost is paid while working.

Investment in Child Care: Half Weight (0.6 points)

Note: This metric measures the average amount of state’s investment into Child Care and Development Fund per child of low income age under 13.

Health & Well-Being (30 points)

Good or Better Health: Double Weight (2.93 points)

Note: This metric measures the average amount of state’s investment into Child Care and Development Fund per child of low income age under 13.

Obesity: Double Weight (2.93 points) 

Note: This metric measures the rate of obese women aged 18 and older with a body mass index of 30 or higher. 

Physically Active Women: Regular Weight (1.46 points)

Note: This metric measures the share of physically active women.

Uninsured Rate: Double Weight (2.93 points)

Note: This metric measures the rate of uninsured females aged 64 and under per all female population of the same age range.

Uninsured After Pregnancy: Regular Weight (1.46 points)

Note: This metric measures the share of women surveyed to not have been insured after pregnancy.

Health Care Cost: Double Weight (2.93 points)

Note: This metric measures the share of females who reported in the last 12 months there was at least one instance when they couldn’t visit a doctor due to cost.

Public Health Services: Regular Weight (1.46 points)

Note: This metric measures the rate of women either under age 20 or below the 250 percent federal poverty level whose reproductive medical needs were met by publicly-funded clinics.

Post-Pregnancy Depression: Regular Weight (1.46 points)

Note: This metric measures the share of women surveyed to have experienced depression after pregnancy.

Life Expectancy: Regular Weight (1.46 points)

Note: This metric looks into a female life expectancy at birth.

Mental Distress: Double Weight (2.93 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of women aged over 18 surveyed to have experienced mental distress.

Mental Distress Among Teens: Regular Weight (1.46 points)  

Note: This metric measures the share of female high school students surveyed to have felt sad or hopeless.

Suicide Rates: Regular Weight (1.46 points)                                                                                                         

Note: This metric measures a number of deaths among females due to suicide per 100,000 population.

Suicidal Thoughts Among Teens: Half Weight (0.73 points)       

Note: This metric measures the share of female high school students surveyed to have seriously considered attempting suicide.

Breast Cancer Mortality: Half Weight (0.73 points)       

Note: This metric measures a number of deaths due to breast cancer per 100,000 population.

Cancer Mortality: Regular Weight (1.46 points)                                                                                                                                                                        

Note: This metric measures a number of deaths due to cancer per 100,000 population.

Drug Overdose Mortality: Half Weight (0.73 points)     

Note: This metric measures a number of deaths among females due to drug overdose per 100,000 population.

Heart Disease Mortality: Half Weight (0.73 points)

Note: This metric measures a number of deaths among females due to heart disease per 100,000 population.

Infant Mortality: Half Weight (0.73 points)                                                                                                                                                                   

Note: This metric measures the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births by state.

Safety (15 points)

Female Homicide: Double Weight (2.61 points)    

Note: This metric measures a number of females murdered per 100,000 population.

Rape: Double Weight (2.61 points)

Note: This metric measures a number of rape victims per 100,000 population.

Gender-Based Hate Crime: Double Weight (2.61 points)  

Note: This metric delves into states that adopt the federal gender-based hate crime protections.                                         

Domestic Violence: Double Weight (2.61 points)   

Note: This metric measures the percentage of women aged over 18 surveyed to have suffered domestic violence at least once in a lifetime.             

School Harassment: Half Weight (0.65 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of female K-12 students reported to have been either harassed or bullied at schools. 

Dating Violence Against Teens: Half Weight (0.65 points) 

Note: This metric measures the share of female high school students surveyed to have experienced physical dating violence.

Sexual Violence Against Teens: Half Weight (0.65 points)          

Note: This metric measures the share of female high school students surveyed to have experienced sexual violence by anyone.

Sex Offenders: Regular Weight (1.3 points)    

Note: This metric measures a number of registered sex offenders per 100,000 population.

Statutes of Limitations on Sex Crimes: Regular Weight (1.3 points)    

Note: This metric delves into state’s statute of limitations for its most serious sex crimes.

Politics (7 points)

Voter Registration: Double Weight (1.75 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of female registered voters.

Voter Turnout: Double Weight (1.75 points)                            

Note: This metric measures the share of women who voted in 2020 election.   

Governor: Regular Weight (0.88 points) 

Note: This metric looks into whether a state has a female governor. 

State Congress Representation: Regular Weight (0.88 points)         

Note: This metric measures the share of women in a state’s legislature.

State Executive Officials: Regular Weight (0.88 points)

Note: This metric looks into whether a state has women for its Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, and/or State Auditor.    

Education (15 points)

Educational Attainment: Double Weight (3.53 points)    

Note: This metric measures the percentage of women aged over 18 with at least a high school diploma.

College Degree Rate: Regular Weight (1.76 points)     

Note: This metric measures the percentage of females aged over 25 with at least a college associate degree.

School for Working Moms: Double Weight (3.53 points)   

Note: This metric measures the share of child-raising, working women ages from 25 to 49 enrolled in school part or full time.

Pre-School Enrollment: Half Weight (0.88 points)     

Note: This metric measures the percentage of females ages from 3 to 5 enrolled in preschool.

College Entrance Exam: Regular Weight (1.76 points)  

Note: This metric measures the percentage of female high school students who took either SAT or ACT.  

AP Exams: Regular Weight (1.76 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of female high school students who took one or more AP exams.                                                                                                                                

International Baccalaureate Programs: Half Weight (0.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of female high school students enrolled in IB programs.

Gifted and Talented Education: Half Weight (0.88 points)

Note: This metric measures the percentage of female public school students enrolled in GATE program.

Sources: Data employed to render “Best & Worst States for Women” report were garnered from the United States Department of Labor, the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. Small Business Administration, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer, the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of Education, researches from accredited postsecondary education institutions in the U.S, and private research firms whose researches have been cited by governments and mainstream news organizations.