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.

3. Maryland

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    A worker at the National Security Agency (NSA) sits at her computer terminal in the Threat Operations Center in Fort Meade, Md., in 2006. Maryland's high percentage of government jobs helps its pay equity.
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Women made 86 cents for every dollar men made in Maryland, the third highest ratio. The median salary for women was $48,748 versus $56,708 for men in 2011.

Maryland’s success in closing the wage gap is influenced by its high ratio of government workers as well as unions, says Michele Leber, chair of the National Committee on Pay Equity.

She compares Maryland with its neighbor, Virginia: they have similar ratios of government workers, but Virginia ranks 29th.

“Virginia is a right-to work state, which will lower the earnings ratio,” Ms. Leber says.

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