Gender

Which States Score Highest for Gender Equality? Depends on How You Define It

States that rank well for female leadership and entrepreneurship often rank poorly for things like female labor-force participation and poverty levels, and vice versa.

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AK Rockefeller/Flickr

"Maryland is the most gender-equal state in the U.S.," pronounced Bloomberg News on Tuesday, a day being heralded by the activist-media-politician pipeline as International Women's Day. According to Bloomberg, Vermont, Minnesota, Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Hampshire also score high on gender equality, while "the picture is bleakest" for women in Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Alabama, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

How does the publication arrive at these determinations? By creating a gender-equality ranking index based on five things: women's labor-force participation, the breakdown of college degrees, the size of the gender pay gap, health-insurance coverage rates, and comparative poverty levels.

Unsurprisingly considering the criteria, the states that get the best scores on Bloomberg's gender equality index tend to have lower poverty rates overall: New Hampshire ranks lowest in country for poverty, followed by Maryland. And Vermont (10), Minnesota (4), and Hawaii (5) are all within the bottom 10 for overall poverty. Meanwhile, states that fared poorly on the gender-equality index tend to have higher poverty rates. Mississippi barely trails the District of Columbia for poorest place in the country, and Louisiana (3), Alabama (5), Arkansas (7), Oklahoma (8), and West Virginia (9) are all within the top 10 states for poverty. 

Are there any conclusions to be drawn here? Just that this may be one way to measure "gender equality," but gender equality is a pretty nebulous concept open to all sorts of interpretation. What if we compared rates of business ownership or leadership positions, or measures of physical or psychological health, or representation in government? There are all sorts of ways to slice equality. And Bloomberg did tackle some of more them in a separate index, which allows for interesting comparisons. 

In the second index, Bloomberg looked at "gender equality in leadership, measured by business ownership, lawmaking, advanced-degree holders, high salaries and executive positions in business and government." Maryland also led here, followed by Washington state, Colorado, Oregon, New York, and California. And Southern states tended to fare poorly again, with Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Tennessee rated worst on the leadership index. 

But some states that score high on the first index don't score well on the second index at all, or vice versa.  For instance, Washington state ranked second best for gender parity on the index measuring things like business ownership, advanced-degree holders, and executive jobs, but was only middling on the first index, looking at things like poverty rates, health-insurance coverage, and overall labor-force participation. The same can be seen with West-Coast neighbors Oregon, California, and to a lesser degree with nearby Nevada and Arizona. 

The reverse is true in the Plains States: Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota all score relatively well on the first index but are among the worst on the women's leadership and entrepreneurship index. And a similar if less severe dynamic exists for Iowa. 

Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states tended to fluctuate within the parameters of the middle of both indexes, while New England states hovered near the top ratings for both. 

Bloomberg Business
Bloomberg News

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167 responses to “Which States Score Highest for Gender Equality? Depends on How You Define It

  1. Is that a map of places where the cost of living is so high that woman have to work because no single person could earn enough to raise a family?

    1. Raising a family is a full time job that should be earning a living wage!!!11!!1!1!!

      1. It takes a village!!!!!

        1. The village chief was cancelled.

      2. Can I get that job (minus the vermits) so I can sit on my ass all day and play video games? I promise I won’t complain about not having a career and I won’t even get a perm.

      3. Who is the “employer”?

    2. No, hey, c’mon. Stop stomping all over the narrative with your miserable facts.

    3. After I been earnin $8768 this-past/five weeks and-a little over, $10k lass-month. it’s realy my favourite work I have ever had. I actually started 7-months ago and pretty much straight away was earning at least $87… p/h. I follow
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  2. You always define it in a way that shows the evil patriarchy working overtime to crush underprivileged women.

    1. “It’s a living. Now fetch me some coffee.” – Patriarch

  3. It is interesting that the way this is done assumes that a state where more women may choose to do something other than work would be considered less equal. It is measuring equality of result rather than legal equality.

    1. This. Are we striving for equality of outcomes or equality of opportunity?

      1. I’m not striving for anything. I just want to be left alone. Also, I will leave everyone else alone.

        1. The fact that you don’t want to meddle in the affairs of others just shows how much of a misanthrope you are.

          1. I’m not so much a misanthrope as a swirling ball of apathy and rage, changing direction at random like a bait ball of sardines, being pummeled by gannets.

            1. Put in some profanity and sex, and you’ll have an AC post.

            2. You haven’t been into Agile Cyborg’s stash, have you?

            3. GET OUT OF MY HEAD, MHV!

      2. Whichever is less likely to be attained.

        1. There is an argument for an equality of opportunity defined as the absence of externally imposed impediments.

      3. Are we striving for equality of outcomes or equality of opportunity?

        Equality of outcome provides far more opportunities for graft, so there’s your answer.

      4. The Bloomberg article?

        Equality of outcomes.

    2. Scrolled down to say this. Glad someone else did too.

    3. “It is measuring equality of result rather than legal equality.”

      And Libertarians don’t believe in measuring results.

    4. First encounter with feminism?

  4. Wow, suddenly labor force participation becomes relevant!

    I would guess that the *unemployment* rates for women don’t fit the narrative, so we’re dusting off the old labor force participation statistics.

  5. “gender equality in leadership, measured by business ownership, lawmaking, advanced-degree holders, high salaries and executive positions in business and government.”

    One surmises it’s tough to obtain equality across all 56 gender options.

    1. women’s labor-force participation, the breakdown of college degrees, the size of the gender pay gap, health-insurance coverage rates, and comparative poverty levels.

      Gee, I wonder if any of these things could be divergent because men and women tend to make different choices in certain areas. Or that women statistically use much more health care than men, so from an actuarial basis it makes sense that their rates should be higher. Like the way auto insurance rates for young males are higher. And aren’t women obtaining college degress at a rate that’s almost 60/40 over men these days? Yet somehow it’s women who are suffering inequality? Bullshit.

      1. r that women statistically use much more health care than men, so from an actuarial basis it makes sense that their rates should be higher.

        They mean rates of coverage, not cost of premiums. It’s illegal under the ACA for insurers to charge different premiums based on sex/gender.

        1. It’s illegal under the ACA for insurers to charge different premiums based on sex/gender.

          At this point, about the only thing that actuaries can use to price risk is credit scores. Naturally, a dozen or so states are banning that, too.

          1. At this point, about the only thing that actuaries can use to price risk is credit scores.

            Another reason it’s not actually “insurance”.

        2. Ah, okay – when discussing insurance, “rates” generally refers to premiums.
          It’s illegal under the ACA for insurers to charge different premiums based on sex/gender.

          Sure, it’s only right that men be forced to pick up some of the cost for women. Why the fuck not? We don’t want to deny them “access” by refusing to pay for their shit. That would just perpetuate the War on Womyn.

          1. Sure, it’s only right that men people who don’t reproduce be forced to pick up some of the cost for women who do.

            FTFY

            1. Well yeah, that too.

            2. Even in the more freeish days pre-aca, I never saw an actuarial chart that broke down womens cost by reproduction.

              Insurance companies never distinguished.

              In a true free market, I doubt they would either, except by offering policies where they refused to cover costs related to reproduction.

              1. In a true free market, I doubt they would either, except by offering policies where they refused to cover costs related to reproduction.

                Which is all you’d need. That would completely take care of the problem.

                But those policies are illegal now.

                1. Yup. I had pregnancy coverage added to my policy back when I was single. Paying for literally a 0% chance outcome.

            3. All by yourself?

    2. One surmises it’s tough to obtain equality across all 56 gender options.

      What kind of cis-hetero shitlord does a study on equality that only looks at men and women, anyway?

  6. Now overlap that map with this one

    1. Va is middle of the road, like always.

      1. god bless the south.

    2. So I should retire in Mississippi?

      1. if you like the taste of penicillin.

        1. I like the taste of amoxicillin and cough syrup…

          1. The fishes in the sea, they’re looking at me…

    3. New Jersey is only the 41st most sluttiest? Ima call bullshit.

      1. If NJ was the most sluttiest, it wouldn’t be the worst state, but it is.

        1. Actually, NJ is a great place to live, if we could get rid of the fucking proglodyte stranglehold on the legislature.

          1. Look, I need to fell better about living in Maryland, now stop trying to ruin it!

          2. And I could buy a rifle that isn’t mangled in some way to comply with senseless laws.

            1. You can pretty much purchase any rifle or hand gun you want in NJ, you just can’t carry any of them.

              1. No. Most semi-auto “assault” rifles have to be mangled. Most typically any kind of flash suppressor or threaded barrel is has a big hunk of metal welded over it.

    4. *cancels Mississippi sex tourism trip*

    5. I choose Georgia. Highest syphillis rate on the map and you might as well go big.

    6. I’m on work wifi. Which is the most slutty?

      1. Mississippi.

        1. Alaska is #2 and frankly i prefer the cold (also, bears are nature’s way of keeping you *just sober enough*)

          1. …Hey, that’s bearcist. As long as I’m not rum-drunk I’m fairly safe to be around.

            1. You’re a bear? I always imagined you rail thin and hairless.

              1. Nah, that’s Irish.

                1. Nah, that’s Irish.

                  *slicks back hair*

                  Hello, what have we here Mr. Irish?

              2. Eh, I’m not really a bear, but I’m medium to heavy built, hairy and gay, so it’s the easiest subclade to glom onto, but I don’t really participate in the cultural aspects of bear-ness (suspenders, bear bars, flags with paw prints on them).

                1. Well, I’m going to have to sit in a dark room and build a new mental image of you.
                  *pours Rioja*

                  1. Were you someone else before “Millennial Hipster Vanguard”?

                    I’ve been a little less commenty lately and there seem to have been some renamings in the meantime.

                    1. I’ve abandoned the Florida Man mantle. Behold my new true to form name. FM is my brother if I’m really honest.

                    2. Oh! I knew I liked you. Now I see why.

                    3. Bring back our Florida Man!

                    4. Never! I can’t make anymore meth jokes!

            2. i meant no disrespect to man-bears.

              1. What about man-bear-pigs?

      2. which state/states has your mom resided in? because there will probably be some overlap.

  7. Check your geographical privilege!

  8. Now let’s exacerbate the wage gap by mandating maternity leave. Then we’ll never run out of things to whine about!

  9. You know this is hilarious. I know women, lots of them. I have all of my life. Here’s the basic gist of it.

    Woman who has straight hair: I want curly hair, I hate my straight hair, I want hair like her!

    Woman who has curly hair: I hate this curly hair, I want straight hair like her! *runs to salon, straightens hair*

    Woman who is CEO of company: I hate this job, I want to stay home like my friend does, her husband gives her everything!

    Woman who is housewife (uh oh, microagression, I meant ‘domestic engineer” I want a career!

    You see, women will never be equal, they don’t want to be, they just want to complain about not being equal. It’s impossible.

    At least my wife’s gotten over the career thing and wanting curly hair for now. She wanted a laptop, so I bought her one. Now she wants a desktop, like mine.

    1. Stop mansplaining, you patriarchal shitlord!

      1. I had to mansplain, the author is a woman. I had no choice!

        1. Okay, I’ll have to give you that one.

        2. Your insistence on double line breaking is a problematic case of unacknowledged manspreading within this comment section. Please resolve to make your posts no more than twitter-length in content.

    2. Women! amirite fellas? *scratches balls*

      1. Oh now you’re a white sheet with balls. Way to move the ballposts.

      2. Yeah, women – you can’t live with ’em, and you can’t kill ’em.

    3. I’m sorry you married a whiny bitch, quit being a whiny bitch about it.

      1. You mom was getting boring.

        1. she does that.

    4. Next tell the one about how women can’t read a map, classic.

      1. Men don’t need no fucking map!

      2. first off women are unable to read anything, so saying they can’t read a map is redundant.

      3. My wife. Seriously, its scary how bad her map skills are.

        On the other hand, she can remember the phone number of every person she has ever met in her life.

        1. Weird. My roommate can route you more effectively than Google from any point in the greater LA basin to any other point in the LA basin while drunk and half-asleep without breaking a sweat. She’s one of two naturally great navigators I know.

          1. My wife has a better sense of direction than I do. I’m guessing because she is a visual learner and I’m an auditory learner, so she remembers land marks better.

            1. I have no idea how my roommate’s brain operates, but she seems to hold an up-to-date street map in her head with anticipated traffic patterns at all times. It’s kind of unreal and it’s totally different than how I’m wired for directions.

          2. Has she ever had a job that required a lot of driving? That’s the way to learn a city

            1. LA commuting, but nothing that takes her all around the city like a delivery job or Uber driver or anything.

          3. I have a superb sense of direction, but I do it the old fashioned way, by using the sun.

            *slips into hipster nirvana*

        2. Maps are easy for me, but I have known quite a few women who embody the stereotype. That said, I have also known guys who are terrible with them. I think it’s a learning style thing. I’m a visual learner and I suck with verbal directions.

  10. I’m sure the massive presence of the Federal government has nothing to do with Maryland being on the “top” of those rankings.

    1. I’ll be right back, I need to go tell wifey how equal she is.

      1. I need to go tell wifey how equal she is.

        I’ve never heard it referred to like that.

  11. These charts clearly show that there needs to be a law. I don’t know what kind of law, but there needs to be one. At least one, maybe more.

    1. We have to do something!

    2. A male tax to balance out the pink tax?

      1. Maybe a special program where the federal gov’t throws money at women to open small businesses?

        If they’re refusing to take the money and open disproportionate amounts of small businesses that means libertarian moment is on, right?

  12. I’m now getting a sidebar ad for “Canada’s Largest Foam Pit”.

    Is shit you not.

    1. Foam Pit? I lol’d. I keep getting these exotic lingerie ads with some very well built ladies on the sidebar. Earlier my wife asked me about it, well she didn’t really ask me, she threatened to throw something at my monitor. I’m innocent, I swear!

        1. You’re getting it too… da bootay!

    2. Too much time on Tumblr?

  13. So this is another thread where I’m supposed to pretend none of you guys are bitter dicks about women, right?

    1. That’s right, so shutup and make us a nice sammich.

    2. Excuse me, my dick is sweet and lovely. Just like candy.

    3. Most of us aren’t feminists. I don’t see anything wrong with that; if you do, then argue why feminism is correct instead of assuming that we’re angry at women (I would assume most of us are not).

      1. I need to argue why feminism is correct before you’ll admit that people who use every post about women as an opportunity to complain about their wives are bitter? lolz

        1. I’m pretty thrilled with my wife; I definitely came out ahead on that one, as anyone who’s had to deal with me in real life knows, heh.

          And I don’t pay bitter men any more attention when it comes to gender relations than I do bitter women.

        2. This thread comes off more like standup-style humor than bitter to me personally. I think they are just joking around.

      2. Pointing out the fact that most of feminisim’s claims of oppression are not factual makes you an angry, bitter mansplainer who is a dick about women.

        1. Some conspiracy theories are more equal than others.

    4. Nicole, you are so pretty when you’re mad.

      *tussles hair, says something condescendingly misogynistic before*

      1. You forgot to slap her on the ass.

        1. They love that, but pretend like it pisses them off. That’s part of the game you know *wink wink*

    5. I really feel what you’re saying and understand.

    6. I think I agree with you but it’s probably just our cycles syncing

    7. Pretend? Most people who post here are bitter. I agree with you, the angst in these threads is legendary, epecially when it comes to complaints about consensual relationships. However, no one is claiming it is only bitter when you do it. Only you are doing that. Furthermore, consider the environment in which this discussion takes place; I would guess that most Western libertarians are completely at odds with the idea that Western women as a class of person are treated unfairly.

      Mocking traditional gender roles and painting the Western woman as a class of person with every opportunity and advantage to succeed in the free world that complains about inaccurrate representations and equality of outcome is not divorced from reality.

      1. However, no one is claiming it is only bitter when you do it. Only you are doing that.

        I don’t understand what this means.

        Furthermore, consider the environment in which this discussion takes place; I would guess that most Western libertarians are completely at odds with the idea that Western women as a class of person are treated unfairly.

        I’m sure that is the case, and I don’t have much of an issue with that. But many of the comments on threads like this end up being, instead, about how unfairly men are treated?and not only by the state. Wah wah, you poor men, having to work and all while I sit around with my feet up eating bon-bons thanks to my vagina! All men make more money than all women! And support them!

        And your wives! Man, are they ever the worst? And it so frequently seems to be their fault that you all gave in and got state-married, too. Not only are there no female libertarians, women even degrade the libertarian credentials of men!

        Mocking traditional gender roles and painting the Western woman as a class of person with every opportunity and advantage to succeed in the free world that complains about inaccurrate representations and equality of outcome is not divorced from reality.

        I don’t really understand what this means either. I don’t see the commenters on this board as particularly interested in “mocking traditional gender roles”; they prefer to police them.

        1. I agree with Nicole. There is some sexist shit that goes on in these comments sometimes.

          I mean, I just broke up with the love of my life and you don’t see me being all bitter about it!

          1. Not bitter so much as needy and sad

            1. Well, the women in my life keep leaving me. First Molly Soda found herself another bear to cuddle with and then I had to break up with ESB as she had begun to bore me.

              Why can’t Irish find love? Why?

              1. I hear that Epi’s mom is available.

              2. I’m sure you’ll find someone new soon…there are dozens of new feminist tumblr blogs coming out every week

        2. I think busting people’s balls is how men talk about and to everyone. Women seem to do it less.

        3. You’re not wrong that those threads exist, Nikki, but I don’t think this is one of them. The next time you see one of those “all women are lying succubuses” threads, I think you could shut them down pretty fast if you interjected. I *think* (but I don’t know) that whiny threads survive because posters feed off each-other and no one challenges them.

    8. Personally, I’m fine if people gush all over their spouse somewhere else.

    9. I really don’t care what you do.

  14. I’m willing to bet that if you were to look at rates of single motherhood, one of the driving factors behind gender imbalances is unwed mothers. Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest percentages of out of wedlock births in the country and are also among the worst in both gender equality indexes.

    This is especially true regarding poverty differentials since the poverty rate for unwed mothers is huge.

    1. Surely also has an effect on labor force participation.

      1. Yeah, single mothers probably have higher rates of labor force participation, but they’d perform worse on every other metric being studied here.

        1. I was thinking they’d lower it. The more women have kids, the fewer work. Even if single moms are more likely to work than married moms, they’re going to be less likely to work than women without children.

          1. Maybe, but wouldn’t they need to work to support an entire family? I know welfare exists, but I don’t know how far that goes with two kids and one income.

            1. It goes further with more kids, because you get more with each kid you have. Explains why the poorest welfare families have 5-6 kids or more. I remember one of the welfare families that I know back in the midwest, the guy was just giddy with excitement because the wife was pregnant again with the 5th kid because of the huge increase in benefits coming their way.

              1. When my mom divorced my deadbeat father she was left with four kids to take care of. No way could she hold down a job. So we were on welfare until a couple of them aged out of the house and I was old enough to take care of myself. Then she got a job like a normal person.

                So yeah it depends on how many kids and how old they are.

    2. And that’s why we need to subsidize more of it.

  15. I can’t be arsed to care about the relatively minimal differences between the states on “gender equality”. Any state in the union has cultural institutions that are more than sufficient for a woman to succeed if she puts her mind to it and works hard; I don’t particularly care how many “you go girls” they get for doing it and I certainly don’t want unqualified women to be promoted merely because they’re women (AKA the Hillary Clinton Effect).

  16. This thread is just one giant patriarchal micro-aggression.

    1. Of course, because so’s everything.

    2. You *would* say that
      (angry look)

  17. Personally I just wish people would shut up about equality. It is a myth and not a good myth like unicorns or leprechauns or free candy. It is a bland grey myth of stultifying boredom. Fortunately we are all different with different inherent abilities, shaped by different experiences and directed by different choices. Maybe we could try liberty for a while and let people take their shot at happiness, without getting all bent out of shape that people’s lives end up looking different.

    1. I sort of like that women are different. I mean, if I would have been the invisible sky god creator, there are a few things I would change, but they’re wonderful in so many other ways that I guess I wouldn’t destroy them all in a world flood or anything. Now after the sexbots arrive…

      1. I sort of like that women are different. I mean, if I would have been the invisible sky god creator, there are a few things I would change, but they’re wonderful in so many other ways that I guess I wouldn’t destroy them all in a world flood or anything. Now after the sexbots arrive…

        I agree. Except that the fate of every city I ever built in SimCity argues conclusively that if I were the ISGC there would be floods aplenty, and Godzilla, and tornadoes, and fire, and aliens, and earthquakes.

  18. I will go Irish and ask how these charts match up with racial populations?

    This vorrelates with the singl mother factor already mentioned.

    1. Maryland seems sort of a paradox in that there are lots of single unemployed mothers in Baltimore but there are also lots of highly paid women in careers here, especially because as has already been pointed out, it’s pretty hard for a couple to survive here on a single income beyond the basics.

      1. Maryland = Washington DC suburbs = Lois Lerners

  19. I wonder if they’re using the unadjusted poverty measures or the cost-of-living poverty adjusted measures? if they’re using the unadjusted ones, it’s going to push the South down and make the West Coast, Northeast, and DC area look better than they really are.

    1. My thought as well. Would be nice to have a more detailed breakdown of their criteria.

  20. So women who freely choose to be stay-at-home mothers and are not in the workforce are what – downtrodden gender unequal?

    Some would consider them blessed. Some would consider them smart planners.

    1. Obviously the highest aspiration that anyone in America can aim for is being a CEO with no time for family or anything besides work, so that’s just invalid.

      No other life goals are possible or admissible.

  21. Equality should be defined by treatment by the state. Nothing more, nothing less.

    1. and sandwich-making abilities.

  22. More non-libertarian crap at Reason.

    Soooo, things are unfair you say, hmmm who should we get to solve this, government maybe.

    How the hell is wishing for daddy government to fix things at all worthy of libertarian consideration??!!

  23. No state has any more “gender equality” than any other.
    Because the genders are NOT EQUAL and the location doesn’t affect that.

  24. Advanced degrees and “leadership” roles for women are meaningless metric. States like California are crawling with men and women with advanced degrees with minimum job prospects. I hate to sound all SJW, but the fact that state A has more white female leaders in corporations or government than state B says nothing in and of itself. Who cares if the bay area has more female CEOs or tech workers than Alabama? Women don’t dominate that field and whatever happens there doesn’t affect 99% of middle class American women.

    Does anyone actually think Vermont or Maryland can solve women problems in this country? I would like to see a female CEO expand her business in Vermont, which has almost no people and is dependent on the cheese economy. Big states attract talent and business, and women with connections just happen it hit it big there.

  25. What’s the big deal with equality anyway. Just leave me alone!

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