Let’s start with the very bad news: in every state, women earn less than men. What’s more, the U.S. ranks 49th of 144 countries ranked by the World Economic Forum for gender equality. These statistics, highlighted in a recent report by WalletHub, paint a grim picture for the female workforce. But luckily it’s not all bad, the report shows.
To find where the best working conditions are for women, WalletHub compared 50 states “across 16 key indicators of gender equality,” according to the report, which looks at everything from the gap between female and male executives to where women work the longest hours and the unemployment rates for women and men.
After crunching the numbers, WalletHub found Vermont boasts the smallest wage gap, with California, New Mexico, Oregon, and New Mexico also having smaller-than-average wage gaps. And when it comes to women working in the C-Suite, Wyoming, Alaska, New Mexico, North Dakota, and West Virginia have other states beat, it says.
But sadly, in almost every state, women represent the highest share of minimum-wage workers, the report found. Missouri, Alabama, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and North Dakota have the highest minimum-wage workers gap at 50 percent.
When it comes to unemployment, Alaska has the highest unemployment-rate gap favoring women, with 2.9 percent more unemployed men. Arizona has the highest gap favoring men, with 1.3 percent more unemployed women. In Mississippi, South Dakota, and North Carolina, the unemployment rate is equal for men and women.
Here are the 10 best states for women to work, according to the WalletHub report:
1. New York
8. North Dakota
10. New Mexico
And here are the 10 worst states for women to work, with No. 10 being the worst:
5. South Carolina
According to one expert who studied the report, the key to solving at least one of these disparities—the gender wage gap—is encouraging people and companies to disclose what they earn. “Once that information is out in the open and the disparity is seen, job by job, and not by general percentages such as ‘women earn 79 percent of what women make,’ then people will advocate for changes in their own jobs,” said Shulamit Reinharz, Ph.D., Jacob Potofsky professor emerita of sociology.
Interestingly, some cities and states have already taken steps to close the gender wage gap by making it illegal for employers to ask what you have been paid in past positions. In New York City, San Francisco, Massachusetts, and Delaware, hiring managers are banned from asking candidates about their current or past earnings. These measures aim to not only close pay gaps but also to combat discrimination in the workplace, and promote equal pay regardless of gender, ethnicity, and race.
You can read the full report and about the methodology here.