Breaking down women's opportunities by location

As far as economic prospects for women go, Washington, D.C., is in the lead.

By Catherine Price
Published January 9, 2007 8:25PM (EST)

According to a December 2006 report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research that breaks down women's economic opportunities in America by state, it's really bad to live in Arkansas. Bill Clinton's home state ranks 51st in a rating system that measures states (and the District of Columbia) in eight areas, including female-male wage ratio and women's representation in managerial and professional jobs. Washington, D.C., ranked highest, followed by Maryland, Massachusetts and Minnesota.

Among the report's "promising" news:

  • Women's inflation-adjusted wages have risen in all states since 1989.
  • The female-male wage ratio has increased from 68.5 percent in 1989 to 77 percent today. That's an increase in 50 states (D.C. is the only place whose ratio fell).
  • In 2004, 26.5 percent of women over age 25 had a bachelor's degree, compared with 29.1 percent of men. That's the closest those numbers have ever been.
  • Things left to work on:

  • There is no state -- none! -- where typical full-time female workers earn as much as their typical male counterparts. According to the report, "at the present rate of progress it will take 50 years for women to achieve earnings parity with men nationwide."
  • The rate of women entering the labor force is slowing and still lags behind that of men in every state, with 59.2 percent of American women in the labor market, compared with 71.8 of men.
  • One interesting statistic is that a higher proportion of women work in professional and managerial jobs than men (35.5 percent vs. 28.9). And yet only 10 of the 2006 Fortune 500 companies are actually run by women. It looks like, as in many other areas, there's still plenty of work to be done.

    Catherine Price

    Catherine Price is an award-winning journalist and author of Vitamania: How Vitamins Revolutionized the Way We Think About Food. Her written and multimedia work has appeared in publications including The Best American Science Writing, The New York Times, Popular Science, O: The Oprah Magazine, the Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Post Magazine, Salon, Slate, Men’s Journal, Mother Jones, PARADE, Health Magazine, and Outside. Price lives in Philadelphia.

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