50 Best to Worst States for Women: States 21-25

Michigan

The Lowdown

We know Michigan women love their automobiles but they should think about walking more. Nearly two-thirds of women here are overweight or obese.

The Good News

Michigan ties New York for sixth place for its share of women-owned businesses: 30 percent. And one of the country’s 18 female state senators hails from Michigan: Debbie Stabenow. The rate of uninsured women is less than the national average -- which likely accounts for good screening rates. Michigan’s Pap smear rate is just above the national average (78 vs. 77 percent) and its mammogram rate is ninth in the nation: 78 percent vs. 75 percent nationwide.

The Bad News

Only 36 percent of women maintain a healthy weight, lower than the U.S. average of 40 percent. A quarter don’t exercise and only 26 percent have healthy diets that include five fruits and vegetables a day. Public service announcement time: Heart disease is the leading killer of women. Only one out of 15 congressional seats is held by a woman (Candice Miller) and women hold only one in five seats in the state legislature, a percentage that ranks it 36 among all 50 states.

Hear Us Roar

The state’s first female governor, Jennifer Granholm, ended her second term in office in 2011. Her success came from a path charted by another Michigan woman, Katharine Dexter McCormick, who in 1919 helped found the League of Women Voters. She also funded research that led to the development of the birth control pill.

= 5.3

Arizona

The Lowdown

Female representation in state government is commendable but economically, women struggle.

The Good News

With a female governor, Jan Brewer, and women in 34 percent of the state legislature’s seats (the fourth highest percentage in the country), women have more of a say in Phoenix than in many other states. And all that sunshine must encourage women to stay fit: 77 percent of women report that they exercise regularly.

The Bad News

Despite strong female representation, many Arizona women aren’t getting their basic needs met. Twenty percent of women lack health insurance -- higher than the national average of 19 percent. Sixteen percent of women live in poverty, again higher than the national average of 14.5 percent. And academically, women also trail behind: Barely one in four has a college degree versus 28 percent nationwide. Compare that with Arizona's neighbor to the north, Colorado, which has a college graduation rate of 36 percent. On top of all of that, the Arizona state senate is proposing a bill that would force women here to share their private medical conditions with their employers if they want birth control to be covered by insurance.

Hear Us Roar

Arizona is home to iVillage’s 2011 Woman of the Year, former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who valiantly worked to overcome brain injury after a devastating shooting and assassination attempt.

Score = 5.2

New Mexico

The Lowdown

High poverty numbers and low health insurance coverage rates make New Mexico a tough place to be a healthy woman.

The Good News

Nearly a third of all businesses are owned by women (the nation’s second highest percentage) and the state’s chief executive is female: Gov. Susana Martinez. New Mexico also supports family planning: health insurance coverage must include contraceptives in prescription drug plans and reproductive health care is available at low- or no-cost to low-income women.

The Bad News

Not only do 18 percent of all women live in poverty (putting the state in the bottom five for that category), the numbers for single mothers are shocking: 44 percent. Both numbers beat the national average of 14.5 percent and 40.7 percent respectively. And poverty isn’t the only problem. New Mexico has one of the highest rates of uninsured women in the country: 25 percent.

Hear Us Roar

Linda G. Alvarado overcame poverty to start one of the country’s leading construction firms: Alvarado Construction. And as co-owner of the Colorado Rockies, she is also the first Latina to ever own a baseball team.

= 5.1

North Carolina

The Lowdown

Party politics is putting women pols at risk in North Carolina.

The Good News

One of the country’s 18 female U.S. senators hails from North Carolina: Kay Hagan. On March 15, she displayed why having a woman representing your state in Congress is so important. Hagan was one of several female voices on the Senate floor demanding renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, whose passage has been stalled by opposition from Senate Republicans. When it comes to health care women here get their necessary health screenings: 80 percent have had a routine Pap in the last three years and 77 percent of women over 40 have had a mammogram.

The Bad News

We’re worried that women’s hold on 22 percent of the state legislature’s seats is in jeopardy. Here’s the result of work by a senate panel charged with drawing new district lines: Two female legislators will have to run against each other, ensuring one loses her seat. And when it comes to eating well, women here have among the worst habits. More than three in four women don’t eat a heart-healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. Twenty-nine percent don’t exercise at all and 63 percent are overweight or obese.

Hear Us Roar

Presidential candidate and former Senator from North Carolina Elizabeth Dole was the first woman ever to serve as Secretary of Transportation, which she did during the Reagan administration.

= 4.6

Georgia

The Lowdown

When Georgia women are pushed, they don’t retreat. Read on to find out how.

The Good News

Georgia is home to women like Nirvana Jeanette. Here’s why you should know who she is. Georgia law allows women to breastfeed in public but does nothing to punish those who try to prohibit this. So when Jeanette was kicked out of her church – her pastor equated nursing to a stripper performance – she held a nurse-in on her county courthouse steps. Let’s hear it for even more girl power: Last week, women state legislators staged a walk-out after passage of two contraceptive-related bills, one that bans coverage for state employees and another that supports religious institutions’ right to deny contraceptive coverage to employees. And in other good news for women leaders, Georgia ranks fourth in the nation in the number of women-owned businesses (31 percent).

The Bad News

Nearly one in four women don’t have health insurance, 17 percent live in poverty and more than 60 percent are overweight or obese. There is no female representation in Congress and the only female U.S. senator the state has ever sent to Washington served for a day -- yup just one day, back in 1922 so it hardly counts. (In case you’re curious, here’s the back story: Rebecca Latimer Felton, a political force and southern suffrage champion, was 87 when she was appointed to fill a vacancy created by the death of U.S. Senator Thomas Watson. A special election was held for the seat and Felton was not a candidate. She was sworn in for a day before the winner, a man named Walter George, took his seat.)

Hear Us Roar

We think we’re in love with state Rep. Yasmin Neal, who responded to a spate of laws restricting reproductive rights by proposing an amendment banning vasectomies. Her tongue-in-cheek rationale? “Thousands of children are deprived of birth in this state every year because of the lack of state regulation of vasectomies.”

= 4.5
Connect with Us
Follow Our Pins

Yummy recipes, DIY projects, home decor, fashion and more curated by iVillage staffers.

Follow Our Tweets

The very dirty truth about fashion internships... DUN DUN @srslytheshow http://t.co/wfewf

On Instagram

Behind-the-scenes pics from iVillage.

Best of the Web