There has been a great deal of talk of late about women and politics: What we want, how we’ll vote, what is good for us. Politicians and pundits love to stir up arguments around the most divisive social and moral issues, but we know what is truly most important to us as women: We want to live in a land where women can thrive; where we can live in good health, get quality care for our kids, and have a government that truly gets our priorities.
To help American women make the best decisions in those voting booths come November, iVillage examined the quality of life for women in our country today -- and we found that all states are not created equal. So, we made a list of the 50 Best to Worst States for Women.
See our rankings below. You may be surprised with how your home state fared. (I myself was shocked that my state of New Jersey did not fare better.)
Top 5 States: Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachussetts, California
States 6-10: Vermont, New York, Minnesota, Washington, New Hampshire
States 11-15: New Jersey, Colorado, Maine, Illinois, Alaska
States 16-20: Rhode Island, Deleware, Oregon, Virginia, Wisconsin
States 21-25: Michigan, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina, Georgia
States 26-30: Montana, Nevada, Iowa, Kansas, Pennsylvania
States 31-35: Florida, Ohio, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah
States 36-40: Missouri, North Dakota, Texas, South Dakota, Tennessee
States 41-45: Idaho, South Carolina, Indiana, Louisiana, Alabama
Bottom 5 States: Kentucky, West Virginia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Mississippi
To create our ranking, we examined each state based on six criteria. The two most important factors, and the ones we gave the most weight to, are health and the economy. On health, we asked: How many women are insured? How likely are they to get their annual exams, exercise, eat properly, not to be overweight? In economic terms, what’s the median income for women? How many own their own businesses? Next, we weighed access to affordable childcare -- because how can a woman get ahead if help for her kids is out of reach? After that came another important factor: female representation in both the state and national governments. (We bet you’ll be shocked, like us, with how much improvement is needed in this area in many, many places.)
We also looked at education -- what percent of women get a four-year degree? And finally, we considered accessibility to all sorts of women’s health care -- including, but not exclusive to, abortion providers, contraceptive coverage and annual gynecological exams. The debates around reproductive rights are unavoidable -- we encourage you to share your opinions with us -- but we believe that when it comes to providing young women with the most options for their futures, affordable and accessible female healthcare in all matters is crucial.
And, just for fun, and because it is Woman’s History Month, we spotlighted each state’s most proud “hear us roar” champions. From Maryland's Harriet Tubman to Ohio's Gloria Steinem to Wyoming's Nellie Ross Taylor, the country's first female governor, we've taken a moment to recognize women who have helped make our country what it is today.
The good news is that it’s an election year. Don’t like the number of female senators you have representing you at the state or federal level? Do something about it. Want more time off, and want it paid, when you have a baby? Some states do that. Why not yours? Tell your local politicians now, when they’re most likely to listen.
For an extensive list of resources we consulted while creating our Best to Worst States for Women ranking, see this page.
We encourage you to give us feedback by leaving a comment. I can’t wait to hear what you think.