Photo Credit: Rob Yee
iVillage consulted more than a dozen expert resources during our 3-month investigation of the best to worst states to live in for women. We began our research by taking a hard look at what’s most important in our day-to-day lives as women and came up with six criteria: health and wellness, economic well-being, what helps and hinders working moms, the number of women in elected office, reproductive rights and education.
To create our ranking, we used a scale of 1-10 for each state, with 10 being the highest possible score. We gave the most weight to health and the economy -- states were eligible for a maximum of 2.5 points in each of those two categories. Next, we awarded up to 1.5 points to states that have affordable childcare and laws that help working moms. We also gave up to 1.5 points to states with strong female representation in Congress, state legislatures and the governor's office. We awarded up to 1 point for state laws that give women more options when it comes to reproductive rights. And finally, we gave up to 1 point to states with a high percentage of women with a 4-year college degree.
No state was awarded the full 10 points, the highest possible rank, though our top 5 best states for women came close. Here are the questions we asked when examining each of the six criteria.
Health & Wellness
How many women lack health insurance?
What percentage of women have had Pap smears within the past 3 years and mammograms after age 40?
How many women are a healthy weight?
How many eat a healthy diet that includes 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day?
How many women exercise?
What’s the state’s fertility rate?
How does the state address domestic violence issues?
What percentage of women live in poverty?
What is the median salary among women?
How many businesses are owned by women?
Is affordable childcare within reach?
Do state laws support nursing moms?
Do laws on the books give adequate parental leave time to both new moms and dads?
How many women has a state elected? In particular, we focused on how many women currently serve but also looked at historical data.
Do state laws give women safe, affordable access to abortion and family planning services?
Does insurance cover contraception and family planning?
Do state laws support a woman’s right to choose and access to reproductive-related health care?
How many women have a 4-year college degree? After answering these questions, we assigned each state a final score and rank.
We are so grateful to Cynthia Ramnarace, who researched, reported and wrote this series. We also want to thank the following expert sources who guided our research:
-- National Council of State Legislatures
-- Guttmacher Institute
-- National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
-- Center for American Women & Politics at Rutgers (CAWP)
-- National Partnership for Women & Families
-- US Census 2010 American FactFinder
-- NARAL Pro-Choice America
-- The Office on Women’s Health (HHS) Quick Health Data Online
-- National Network to End Domestic Violence
-- National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies
-- Institute for Women’s Policy Research State-by-State Rankings and Data on Indicators of Women’s Social and Economic Status, 2010