Looking for a place where men and women are economically and socially equal?
Perhaps the best place to start is Minnesota, where women are active in government, vote in large numbers, and have quality health care and long life expectancies, according to data gathered by WalletHub. The site looked at women's economic and social well-being as well as women's health issues in order to rank the states, as the issues are generally intertwined. (Related: Click here to see the 15 worst states for women.)
Factors that WalletHub took into account included female life expectancy at birth; proportion of uninsured women; previous WalletHub data on the best and worst states to have a baby; cost-of-living-adjusted median earnings for women; the unemployment rate for women; the percentage of women living in poverty; the proportion of women-owned businesses; and WalletHub's previous state rankings for working moms and women's equality.
Most of the best states for women are in the Northeast, with a few falling a little further south toward D.C. (counted in this list as a 51st state) and a few more in the northern edges of the Midwest.
Here are the 15 states that are the best bets for women.
15. New York
Hillary Clinton may have served as senator in this staunchly Democratic state, but not quite 24 percent of New York state legislators are female, which is slightly below the national average. And the Empire State ranks only 26th for women's health care considerations, with a bottom-10 ranking on the list of the best and worst states in which to have a baby. However, its status as the second best state for women's equality helps it break into the top 15 states for women overall.
14. North Dakota
North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate for women of all the states surveyed (plus D.C.), at just 2.3 percent. Yet its gender pay gap was worse than the national average: North Dakota women earn only 70 percent of what men in the state make, whereas American women overall make 77 cents for every dollar that men earn. Still, along with a top 10 rank for working moms, North Dakota earns the ninth spot for women's health issues, securing its spot at No. 14 overall.
Nearly 92 percent of girls in Iowa graduate from high school, far more than the national average of 84 percent. Iowa also rated eighth for women's health issues, due in part to its standing as the seventh best state for having a baby.
12. Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., has the smallest gender gap for wages -- women earn about 90 percent of what men do -- and it claims the top spot for median earnings for female workers (after adjusting for cost of living), at about $48,000 per year. Despite lacking electoral votes for presidential candidates, D.C. also boasts the highest percentage of women who voted in the last general election. However, Washington has the second-worst infant death and high school dropout rates for girls.
Perhaps in part because of its proximity to Washington, D.C., women's median earnings in Virginia rank second highest in the nation, at $45,000-plus per year. That said, the gender pay gap is more than twice as large in Virginia as it is in D.C., with women earning only 79 percent of men's wages. Virginia also ties with five other states for the fourth lowest women's poverty rate in the nation, at 10 percent.
Ranking No. 9 for women's economic and social well-being, Wisconsin is home to Milwaukee, where about 36 percent of all businesses are owned by women. That's the third highest proportion for any city in the U.S., according to the National Women's Business Council. Wisconsin is in the bottom half of all states when it comes to having a baby, but it rates third overall for working mothers. And Wisconsin women voted at the third-highest rate in the country in the 2012 presidential election.
Women earn nearly $42,000 per year in Delaware, after adjusting for cost of living, which makes it the state with the fifth highest median earnings for women nationwide. Mirroring that ranking, Delaware comes in fifth in women's economic and social well-being. Plus, it ranks as the sixth best state with regard to women's equality. However, Delaware only ranks 24th in the nation for women's health care, and it drops to 35th when considering the best states in which to have a baby.
Proving that no individual factor is enough to make or break a state's placement on the list, Hawaii is the best state for women's equality and ranks dead last in terms of women's median earnings. The gender wage gap in the Aloha State is relatively respectable -- women make about 83 cents to men's dollar -- but women's median earnings don't go far once cost of living is factored in, about $40,000. Tipping the balance to keep it in the top 10 states for women are its top-five rankings for women's lowest unemployment (4.1 percent) and uninsured rates (6.2 percent). And women born in Hawaii have the longest life expectancy from birth of any state in the U.S.
Connecticut boasts the fourth longest life expectancy at birth for women. But, like Hawaii, it ranks poorly in median earnings once the cost of living is factored in. It's the fourth best state in which to have a baby and has the third best ranking when it comes to overall health issues. Eleven percent of its female population lives below the poverty line.
The Pine Tree State doesn't rank very highly on any one factor. But overall high marks keep it on the fringe of the top five best states for women. It's the second-best place to have a baby and the fourth-best place for women's equality. Maine women earn about 81 percent of what men do, or about 3 percentage points better than the U.S. average. It also has a higher-than-average number of women serving in the state Legislature, with 53 of a possible 186 seats currently occupied by women.
5. New Hampshire
Breaking into the top five states for women, New Hampshire provides good conditions for mothers, new and old. It's the fifth best state in which to have a baby and the fourth-ranked state for working mothers. And less than 10 percent of the state's female population is uninsured. It also has the lowest dropout rate for female high school students and the lowest poverty rate for women in the U.S. Maybe graduating all those young women is keeping them financially secure as adults.
Women in Maryland have median earnings slightly above $50,000 per year. Along with its immediate neighbors to the south, it rounds out the top three states with the highest median income for women after adjusting for the cost of living. And, as in D.C., women in Maryland contend with a significantly smaller wage gap (Maryland women make 85 percent of what men do). Plus, at over 31 percent, it has the fifth-highest proportion of women in its Legislature.
Vermont is tied for second on the list of states with lowest uninsured rate for women: Just 5 percent lack health coverage. It's the best state for women's health issues in general and claims the top spot for women to have a baby. It's ranked first for working mothers as well. The state also boasts the third lowest unemployment rate for women (4 percent) and the highest proportion of women in its Legislature of any state, more than 41 percent.
Massachusetts' showing on the health front helps boost it to No. 2. The state ranks highly for both having a baby and being a working mother. Massachusetts also has the lowest rate of uninsured women in the nation, with less than 3 percent of women in the state lacking health coverage.
Minnesota places highly on almost all of the factors that make up WalletHub's rankings. It's the second best state for working moms and for female life expectancy at birth. It's tied for the second lowest proportion of young women dropping out of high school nationwide. It has the fourth highest percentage of women who voted in the 2012 presidential election (a third of its state Legislature is female too) and the fifth lowest uninsured rate among women.
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