It's National Women's History Month and the personal finance social network WalletHub has released its report on the advancement of women through a variety of economic, social, and health indicators that demonstrate social progress towards gender equality.
The report looks at the best and worst states, plus the District of Columbia, for women to work in. WalletHub compiled the data using 13 metrics, ranging from female unemployment rates to uninsured rates among women. The WalletHub report indicates that, while progress has been made, some states still have a lot more work to do.
Minnesota topped the list thanks to finishing second in health care and fourth in economic and social well-being, Minnesota finished second overall in life expectancy from birth only losing out to Hawaii. The state also finished in the top five for highest percentage female voter participation and lowest percentage of uninsured women. There was a sevenfold discrepancy between the top five and the bottom five states for uninsured rates. Massachusetts had the lowest rate of uninsured women, but finished second overall to the Land of 10,000 lakes.
Vermont took third place overall. The Green Mountain State brought home first place for health care and sixth for economic and social well-being. the Green Mountain state had the third lowest unemployment rate for women, in a category where the top five was a quarter the amount the bottom five states posted. Vermont also tied with Washington D.C. for second place in the lowest percentage of uninsured women. The state ranks as the best state to have a baby in and the third best state for working moms.
Maryland had the highest rated for economic and social well-being, but finished 14th in healthcare, good for fourth place overall. The sate also boasted the second-highest female business ownership rate. But it was New Hampshire who had the top slot in lowest percentage of women living in poverty. It also claimed the number one spot in lowest percentage of female high school dropouts, a metric in which states in the bottom five had drop out rates up to eight times higher than that of N.H.
Now here are WalletHub's bottom five states:
Arkansas finished dead last overall. The state finished last in economic and social opportunities for women and scored in 46th place for women's health. It had the 50th worst voter-turnout among women in 2012 and the third-worst share of women owned businesses. Arkansas ranked 31st and 34th for best state to be a working mother in and best state to have a baby in, respectively. In regard to women's equality, Arkansas was outside the top 40.
South Carolina finished 43rd and 48th in economic/social opportunities and women's health care, respectively to finish 47th overall. It was followed by Oklahoma in 46th place for economic and social opportunities, and came in 48th overall. Oklahoma did not fare much better when it came to health care and finished 49th.
Neighbors Louisiana and Mississippi finished 49th and 50th overall respectively. Louisiana finished in 50th in women's economic and social opportunities. The Pelican State comes in dead last for working moms and 50th for having a baby. By comparison, the Magnolia State came in 47th for economic/social well-being and 50th for healthcare. Mississippi also finished at the very bottom for life expectancy at birth and highest percentage of women living in poverty.
This list serves in part to illustrate that, while progress has been realized in the realm of gender equality, much of the country still has a lot further to go. The heart of the issue is access to safe and affordable child care, so that enterprising women can afford to work without having to worry about how their child is going to taken care of during the work day, according to Candida G. Brush a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College.
"Because a high percentage of women are in the workforce, the biggest challenge is affordable and good quality child care," Dr. Brush told WalletHub. "For many women, especially if they are single parents, the cost of reliable, safe child care minimizes their net earnings. For women entrepreneurs, this is an extra cost they pay to start and grow their businesses because often they do not have a partner/husband who is a stay-at-home parent....Until women entrepreneurs have equal access to all sources of growth capital (i.e. venture capital, bank funding, private equity) women will need additional support."
This comprehensive list was compiled by measuring levels of economic and social well-being accessibility to women's healthcare and each state received a grade for each category. For economic and social well being, D.C. and the states were evaluated on eight metrics, which included cost-of-living-adjusted median earnings for female workers, the poverty rate among women, shares of female owned businesses, the high school dropout rate among women, and the percentage of females who voted in the 2012 presidential election.Each of these metrics were given their full weight for WalletHub's calculations. Additionally, WalletHub took into account how each state scored on the site's Women's Equality and Working Moms metrics, with these two categories each being double-weighted.
As for women's health care, WalletHub looked at the rate of uninsured women, cancer screenings, and life expectancy at birth. The best states in which to have a baby were double weighted. The states judged to be best for giving birth in were evaluated by hospital cost of getting a C-section, hospital costs of delivering a baby, cost of infant care, and the death rate among infants. This was also evaluated in a separate report from WalletHub.