While women now comprise roughly half of the American workforce, they make about two-thirds as much money as men and have far less upward mobility, as evidenced by the fact that less than 5% of Fortune 500 companies have female chief executives. Even the new crop of high-profile female CEOs seems to be drastically underpaid relative to their peers.
Such obvious inequality has spawned a great deal of debate about gender roles in a shifting socioeconomic environment, not to mention renewed presidential emphasis. "A woman deserves equal pay for equal work," President Obama said in his 2014 State of the Union address. He continued: "She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job. A mother deserves a day off to care for a sick child or sick parent without running into hardship -- and you know what, a father does, too."
Workplace inequality is an important issue to address not only in the spirit of a merit-based economy, but also for deeply ingrained social reasons. Should women have to choose between their careers and their families? And, even more importantly, are we prepared to accept the societal consequences of these under-the-gun decisions?
The real question, however, is what we're doing about this fundamental problem. Progress, it would seem, is taking shape at different rates across the country. Not only do parental-leave policies and other legal-support systems vary by state, but the quality of infrastructure -- from cost-effective day care to public schools -- are far from uniform, as well.
In order to help ease the burden on an inherently underappreciated segment of the population, WalletHub analyzed state and local dynamics across nine metrics in order to identify the best and worst states for working moms. A complete breakdown of our findings, as well as additional information about the methodology we used to conduct this study, can be found below.
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Child Care Rank
Professional Opportunities Rank
Work-Life Balance Rank
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WalletHub evaluated the attractiveness of the 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia, based on the nine metrics listed below, which were selected based on their significance to various aspects of a working mother's life -- from the home front to the workplace and everywhere in between. States were ranked in each category, and these individual rankings were then used to create overall rankings based on the weights listed beside each metric below. The three overall metric categories -- Child Care, Professional Opportunities and Work-Life Balance -- were used for organizational purposes only, and had no impact on the overall rankings.
- Day Care Quality Rankings: 1
- Child-Care Costs, Adjusted for the Median Woman's Salary: 1
- Access to Pediatric Services (Number of Pediatricians per 100,000 residents): 1
- Public School Quality: 1
- Gender Pay Gap (Women's Earnings as a Percentage Of Men's): 1
- Ratio of Female to Male Executives: 1
- Parental Leave Policy Score: 1
- Length of the Average Woman's Workday: 0.5
- Average Commute Time: 0.5
Sources: The information used to construct this report is courtesy of the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Child Care Aware of America, U.S. News & World Report, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and National Partnership for Women & Families.