Texas or California? Florida or New York? When picking a prospective place to live, one considers climate, the availability of employment, and perhaps proximity to family (or alternatively, distance from family). These details are nearly universal to anyone weighing a big move: they compose a list of pros and cons for each city, state, or country that will ultimately decide where one will spend a significant portion of their life.
What about those factors that aren’t universal? For a woman, place of residency can hugely influence safety, health, and wages. Here are some of the best and worst places to live if you are a female:
In terms of wage equality, the best places to live in the United States are New York and Delaware, according to a study conducted by The American Association of University Women in 2015 that found women make an average of 89 percent of men’s earnings for the same work in New York and Delaware, compared to the national ratio of 80 percent. The same study alternatively found that the worst place for a woman seeking equal pay with men to live was in Wyoming, where women on average earn 64 percent of a man’s salary. Some other states and where they fall: Florida, Washington DC, and California all rank comparatively high, Colorado, Washington, Illinois, and Georgia are somewhere in the middle, and Louisiana, West Virginia, and Utah fall near the bottom with the worst pay conditions for women.
Examining cases of sexual assault, the most dangerous places for a woman to live in the United States are Alaska, Oregon, and Michigan, where the U.S. Census Bureau has determined 19 percent or more of women are victims of rape. The same data found that by far the safest place to live is in Virginia, where 7-8.9 percent of women are victims. The large majority of states fall within the 11-13 percent range.
If the ability to choose whether or not you want to give birth to a child is important, stay away from Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Texas, and Michigan, all of which were ranked on a list of 9 worst states for reproductive rights in 2013 by the Huffington Post due to restrictive legislation on federal funding of abortion clinics, insurance coverage of contraception and abortions, and availability of certified doctors and clinics. Oregon, California, Vermont, and Maryland, on the other hand, were ranked by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) as the four best states for reproductive rights, as the states provide public funding for abortions, birth control that can be bought over the counter, and restrictive laws requiring waiting periods or parental consent or notification for minors are almost nonexistent.
It is an unfortunate fact that many states in this country are not safe or fair to women: the statistics listed above are surprising and frightening in themselves, even more so when considering that conditions of safety and wages are generally worse for LGBT women, women of color, and immigrant women. We must work together in order to improve these conditions, so that one day, our daughters, sisters, and mothers will only have to think about climate, employment, and family when they're deciding where to live.