Women’s rights in the United States have made leaps and bounds since the passage of the 19th Amendment. Yet many women today still struggle to crack the proverbial glass ceiling. And it doesn’t take a feminist to convince anyone that the gender gap in 21st-century America remains disgracefully wide. In 2013, the U.S. failed to make the top 10 — or even the top 20 — of the World Economic Forum’s list of the most gender-equal countries. In fact, the U.S. had fallen one spot to No. 23 since 2012 and six spots since 2011 on the WEC’s annual Global Gender Gap Index. Worse, it lagged behind developing nations — including Burundi, Lesotho, Nicaragua and the Philippines — with primary areas of weakness in economic participation and political empowerment.
Pennsylvania ranked 23rd.
Perhaps most apparent about the issue is how far gender inequality stretches in the American workplace environment. Even with all their advances toward social equality thus far, women continue to be disproportionately under-represented in leadership positions. This past March, the Center for American Progress reported that women “are only 14.6 percent of executive officers, 8.1 percent of top earners, and 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs.” And though they comprise the majority of the labor force in the financial services and health care industries, none are head honchos of their companies.
Apart from unequal representation in executive leadership, salary inequity also has been central to the gender gap debate. Few experts dispute the existence of an earnings gap between women and men, but defining the issue in simple terms remains a challenge. Although the U.S. has completely closed its gender education gap, about two-thirds of minimum-wage workers across the country are female, according to the National Women’s Law Center. At a federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, the NWLC points out, a full-time worker would earn only $14,500 a year, placing a three-person family “thousands of dollars below the federal poverty line.” Unfortunately, women still have too few voices in government to help them achieve full social and economic equality in the near future.
In observance of Women’s Equality Day on Aug. 26, WalletHub crunched the numbers to gauge the scope of gender-based disparities in each of the 50 U.S. states. We did so by examining 10 key metrics, ranging from the gap in the number of female and male executives to the disparity between women’s and men’s life expectancy to the imbalance of their political representation. By highlighting the most and least gender-egalitarian states, we hope to accomplish three goals: help women find the best career opportunities, empower them to keep fighting for their rights and encourage states to learn from one another.
Women’s Equality in Pennsylvania (1=best)
• 18th – Earnings Gap
• 31st – Executive Positions Gap
• 38th – Workday Hours Gap
• 32nd – Educational Attainment Gap
• 32nd – Minimum-Wage Workers Gap
• 32nd – Unemployment Rate Gap
• 42nd – Political Representation Gap
For the full report, go to: