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Gender pay gap: Top 5 best and worst states

The pay gap between men and women has steadily narrowed during the past few decades. Women earned 77 cents for every dollar men earned in 2011, compared with 59 cents in 1963. Here is a look at states with biggest and smallest gender pay gaps today.

2. Vermont

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    People fill the aisles at a job fair in Montpelier, Vt., in 2010.
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In Vermont, women earned $38,177 and men earned $44,057, giving it the second highest women’s-to-men’s earnings ratio: 87 percent.

One contributing factor to its high score: state legislation bolstering equal pay rights. Vermont passed the Equal Pay for Equal Work law in 2002, which makes it easier to file wage discrimination claims, according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.

"These laws like the Vermont equal pay law are really designed to get at that problem by making sure when employers pay different rates to men and women for doing essentially the same work, that they have an extremely good business-related reason for doing so," Cheryl Hanna, a professor of constitutional law at Vermont Law School, told Vermont Public Radio.

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