The Best State To Be A Woman In May Surprise You (Who's Ready To Head To The Midwest?)

If you've ever wondered how being a woman in your state differs from the experiences of women elsewhere, there's now been an established ranking you can compare yourself to. Minnesota is the best state to be a woman in, according to the final report in a seven part series written by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. They created their "Status of Women in the States" series to see how gender inequality differs along state lines and to hopefully influence policy towards realizing equity for women.

Study director Ariane Hegewisch also emphasizes how this data could help women on an indivual level. “The way politics are structured in the U.S., if you want to make an impact it helps if you have the data... So the purpose was to pull the data down to the state level at least to help people concerned about addressing gender issues to make their case," she told the Washington Post. She also notes how that the data not only shows that gender inequality exists, but also that it hasn't changed much since their first report in 2004: “When you look at policy and basic socio-economic indicators, trends are different for women and men and the differences haven’t really diminished very much."

Looking at the overall results, Minnesota took the top spot, with three New England states tying for second place. Louisiana and Alabama, meanwhile, tied for last place. This isn't surprising politically, as New England is known to be more progressive; furthermore, the South has been cited as having large gender inequities before, as seen in this Expert America report that looked at the pay gap by state (spoiler alert: Louisiana ranked last there, too).

The Institute for Women's Policy Research's data is very extensive, as they've analyzed national trends, data by state, ranked the best and worst states, and even ranked states by individual policy area. They also ranked the states in seven categories that impact women directly, from employment to reproductive health. In order to get an idea of what states topped their lists, here's a look at some the best states to be a woman with specific policy rankings.

The Best State to Achieve a Work-Life Balance

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If you want to juggle your work, family, and personal life, New York is the state to do it in. The report looked at states who facilitated policy that emphasized a work-life balance, based the indicators of paid leave, dependent and elder care and child care, and the share of parents in the workforce with young children at home. While New York did indeed win first place, they only scored a B in report card rankings and a huge number of state's got D's and F's. So really, no one is doing well.

The Best State for Reproductive Rights

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Oregon took the number one spot in this category with a score of an A-, with six other states also earning this grade. This score was calculated based on access to, funding for and political support for abortion, sex education, and whether a state imposed any of a variety of abortion restrictions. Looking at the 2004 data, reproductive rights have expanded in some ways and waned in others, with access to infertility treatments having rose and access to abortion providers having fallen.

The Best State for Employment and Earnings

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If you're a working woman (which who isn't these days), you'll want to head off to Maryland to realize the best working conditions; it earned a B+. Massachusetts earned the same grade, but the data showed that women aren't actually anywhere near equality in either of these states. In Maryland, women still only earn 87 cents to every dollar earned by a man for doing the same work, so we still have a long way to go before the gender pay gap is no more.

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