In 2021, women in some parts of America still get the short end of the stick — even as they outnumber men in most states. For instance, women represent nearly two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in the U.S. Their political representation also suffers, as women make up 51% of the U.S. population but only 24% of the Senate and 27.1% of the House of Representatives. The COVID-19 pandemic has been especially harmful financially for women, too, as they have lost their jobs at greater rates than men.
In order to determine how women are faring and where they can find the best opportunities relative to where they live, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 26 key indicators of living standards for women. Our data set ranges from median earnings for female workers to women’s preventive health care to the female homicide rate. Read on for our findings, expert insight from a panel of researchers and a full description of our methodology.
Best States for Women
Women’s Economic & Social Well-Being
Women’s Health & Safety
|5||District of Columbia||69.42||3||20|
Note: With the exception of “Total Score,” all of the columns in the table above depict the relative rank of that state, where a rank of 1 represents the best conditions for that metric category.
When choosing where to live, women are faced with many factors to consider. For additional insight, we asked a panel of experts to weigh in with their thoughts on the following key questions:
- What factors, financial or otherwise, should women consider when choosing a city to live in?
- What should a state-level public-policy agenda for women include?
- Are states converging or diverging in issues of importance to women including equal pay, reproductive rights, etc.?
- What strategies have proven effective in encouraging more women to run for elected office?
- According to a recent study, working women are experiencing the worst effects of the COVID-19 recession. What can states do to ease the economic burden of COVID-19 on working women?
Ask the Experts
In order to identify the best and worst states for women, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across two key dimensions, “Women’s Economic & Social Well-Being” and “Women’s Health & Safety.”
We examined those dimensions using 26 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for women.
We then determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order the states.
Women’s Economic & Social Well-Being – Total Points: 60
- Median Earnings for Female Workers: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
Note: This metric was adjusted for the cost of living.
- Unemployment Rate for Women: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
- Job Security for Women: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
Note: (Number of Female Employees in 2020 - Number of Female Employees in 2019) / Number of Female Employees in 2019.
- Share of Women Living in Poverty: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
- Unaffordability of Doctor’s Visit: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
Note: This metric measures the percentage of women who could not afford to see a doctor in the past year due to costs.
- Share of Women-Owned Businesses: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
- “Economic Clout” of Women-Owned Firms Rank: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
Note: Combined economic clout rank is an averaging of the individual rankings of the 1) number, 2) revenue and 3) employment growth of women-owned firms between 2007 and 2018.
- High School Graduation Rate for Women: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
- Friendliness Toward Working Moms: Double Weight (~9.23 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States for Working Moms” ranking.
- Friendliness Toward Women’s Equality: Double Weight (~9.23 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States for Women's Equality” ranking.
- Share of Women Who Voted in the 2016 Presidential Election: Full Weight (~4.62 Points)
Note: This metric was calculated as follows: Number of Women Who Voted in 2016 Presidential Election / Total Female U.S. Citizen Population Aged 18 Years or Older in State.
Women’s Health Care & Safety – Total Points: 40
- COVID-19 Positive Testing Rate in the Past Week: Triple Weight (~6.00 Points)
- COVID-19 Death Rate During the Past Week: Triple Weight (~6.00 Points)
- Quality of Women’s Hospitals: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric is based on U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals for Gynecology ranking.
- Share of Women Ages 18-44 Who Reported Having One or More People They Think of as Their Personal Doctor or Health Care Provider: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: Primary care providers are specialized in establishing a long-lasting relationship with their patients, and are their medical point of contact. They diagnose, treat and prevent a wide variety of conditions in a way that is tailored to each individual patient. Having a dedicated health care provider, or a provider considered to be one’s personal doctor, is associated with elements of successful health care, such as:
- Lower health care costs
- Greater use of preventive services, such as flu shots or mammograms
- Fewer emergency department visits for non-urgent or avoidable problems
- Increased patient satisfaction
- Improvements in chronic care management for chronic conditions such as hypertension and high cholesterol
- Female Uninsured Rate: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric accounts for females ages 16 and older.
- Share of Women with Good or Better Health: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Behavioral Risk Factors Surveillance System (CDC – BRFSS).
- Women’s Preventive Health Care: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the share of women who were up-to-date on cervical and breast-cancer screenings.
- Share of Physically Active Women: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Share of Women Who Are Obese: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Baby-Friendliness: Double Weight (~4.00 Points)
Note: This metric is based on WalletHub’s “Best & Worst States to Have a Baby” ranking.
- Depression Rate for Women: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Suicide Rate for Women: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Women’s Life Expectancy at Birth: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
- Female Homicide Rate: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures the number of women murdered by men (per 100,000 female residents) and accounts for all ages.
- Prevalence of Rape Victimization Among Women: Full Weight (~2.00 Points)
Note: This metric measures instances of rape. According to the U.S Bureau of Justice Statistics, 91 percent of rape victims are female and 9 percent are male.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Education Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Violence Policy Center, Council for Community and Economic Research, American Express OPEN, U.S. News & World Report, United Health Foundation, United States Mortality DataBase, The COVID Tracking Project and WalletHub research.