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Ladies First: Maryland Ranked Best State For Women

Click to see the full interactive map from the Center for American Progress.

 

Women in the United States have made tremendous strides in the last several decades, but the progress has been unequal across the country. According to a new report by the Center for American Progress, Maryland ranks No. 1 in the United States for the state of its women.

In the report, titled "The State of Women in America", all 50 states were assessed on factors contributing to women's economic security, leadership opportunities, and health. Maryland's overall grade of "A" was a product of its No. 1 rank in both economic security and leadership.

Role models like Sen. Barbara Mikulski, the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, show that leadership is an area at which Maryland women excel.

"Based on the factors examined, women in Maryland are doing the best on leadership," say the reports authors. "Maryland ranks fourth in the nation in terms of the total percentage of elected positions in Congress, statewide elected executive office, and the state legislature that are held by women of color. Maryland ranks third in the nation in terms of the percentage of managerial jobs held by women."

On economic factors, Maryland likely benefits from its proximity to the boom economy of D.C., but that doesn't tell the whole story. Maryland is tied with Nevada for the lowest wage gap for women in the country at 85 cents to the dollar, and it has the third-lowest poverty rate for women in the nation at 11.4 percent.

Virginia did not fare as well as Maryland, with a C+ overall grade and a No. 23 ranking. Like Maryland, Virginia offers women relatively robust economic opportunities, with low levels of women in poverty (12.7 percent).

It was Virginia's D+ grade in health, however, that really sank the commonwealth to the middle of the pack, largely driven by legislation on women's reproductive health.

Anna Chu, one of the authors of the study, suggests that the lack of women in positions of leadership in the Commonwealth may in part be responsible for the nature of the laws passed on women's reproductive health.

"Would women be better served if there were more women in leadership positions? It deserves a deeper look and analysis," says Chu. "This is especially true right now in Virginia, when the state is trying to find out what they want their leadership to look like."

Last year, legislation was passed requiring women seeking abortions to first have an ultrasound exam. The Virginia Board of Health also signed off on new regulations that effectively put most of the state's abortion clinics out of business.

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