Women made history in the 2018 midterm elections, running for and winning offices by record numbers,Â making it the âYear of the Womanâ according to Brookings. The number of state legislature offices held by women rose from 25% in 2018 to 29% in 2019, per the Center for American Women and Politics, an encouraging sign for the future of working women. With more women in office, itâs more likely that issues centering on women in the workforce will get the attention they deserve.
And they do deserve attention. Despite womenâs higher educational attainment, the rate at which Â women are participating in the workforce has plateaued, as have their wages. Womenâs average earnings were still almost 82% of menâs in 2017, the most recent year available from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
But the picture for working women can look brighter (or bleaker) depending on where they live. For the second year in a row, to find the best places to be a working woman, MagnifyMoney analyzed and ranked the 50 largest U.S. metros.
The map and table above show the 10 cities that offer working women have the most equitable compensations and most opportunities for career advancement. Four of these cities are located on the Pacific Coast, with three of those in California. Neighboring cities Baltimore and Washington, D.C., and Boston and Providence have spots in the top 10.
Hereâs a closer look at how these cities rank on different factors.
The nationâs capital is tops again.
Washington, D.C. is the best place overall for working women. It has the highest percentage of managerial positions in its workforce filled by women, at 43.9%, of any city. Boston, Providence, R.I., and Sacramento, Calif. were the other top 10 cities with high rates of women leadership in management positions, at just over 43% each.
D.C. also has some of the strongest parental and pregnancy leave policies of the 50 cities surveyed, second only to Boston. Of the top 10 cities, Washington is where child care is the most affordable, costing an average 19.9% of womenâs median earnings.
Seattle is friendly to female entrepreneurs, as the U.S. city with the highest number of women-owned business, at 39.7%. San Diego is the other top 10 city with a high 35.8% rate of businesses owned by women. The West Coast, in general, is a place where women entrepreneurs are succeeding.
Western states welcome new legislators.
While Las Vegas had the highest number of female legislators of any city surveyed â Nevada is the only state where women hold a slightly majority in the state legislature (50.8%) â it didnât crack the top 10 due to relatively high unemployment and low parental protection rates. Of the cities that did, Denver and Seattle have the highest numbers of women holding state legislative positions, at 46% and 40.8% respectively. Women in Colorado hold a majority in the stateâs lower house.
The 2018 midterm election brought more women into statewide office, an encouraging sign for the future of working women. Across the country, the share of women who hold state office rose from just 25% in 2018 to 29% in 2019 â the highest in history. Mississippi had the lowest representation rate in the country at just under 14%, but none of its cities are big enough to make it on our list. That distinction falls to Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., where only 15% of state lawmakers are women.
Minneapolis has the lowest unemployment rate
No. 4 Minneapolis has a 3.6% unemployment rate, the lowest among all 50 cities surveyed and well below the U.S. average of 4% in January. Denver, where just 4.2% of women in the labor force are unemployed, is the other top 10 city scoring well on this factor.
L.A. once again has the lowest wage gap.
Then thereâs the earnings gap between men and women, which is the lowest in
Los Angeles at just 11.2%. However, LA was not one of the top 10 cities â it came in at No. 21 overall. Two other California cities had the smallest gap in earnings by gender. San Diego women earn just 12.4% less than men, and Sacramento women earn 13.7% less.
Child care is costliest in Boston.
Despite landing in the top 10 cities for working women, Boston is where child care is the most costly with day care costs equal to 27.4% of median earnings among women.
But on the brighter side, Boston and Minneapolis are the two cities where more women receive employer-sponsored health insurance benefits. In Minneapolis, 71.4% of working women received health insurance coverage through an employer, as do 70.5% of women in Boston.
Of the 10 cities that offer women the least favorable economic conditions, public policies, and leadership opportunities, most are concentrated in the South. Specifically, seven of the 10 are in Southern states:
Of the remaining worst cities for working women, Detroit and Cleveland are located in the Midwest. Salt Lake City, Utah is the sole western city among these 10.
Here are some details on how these cities ranked on specific factors.
Tennessee lags in female representation.
Tennessee has one of the lowest percentage of state legislative offices filled by women, at 15.2% âÂ affecting Memphisâ rank among the 10 worst cities. New Orleans and Birmingham also had low rates of female representation in their state legislatures. One bright spot for Birmingham: Â Of all 50 cities surveyed, the lowest child care costs relative to womenâs median earnings were in Birmingham, Ala.
Houston has the lowest percentage of women in management positions of all 50 cities surveyed, at just 35.9%. Itâs followed closely by Salt Lake City, where just 36.2% of managers are women, and Oklahoma City at 38.1%.
Women are least likely to own business in Buffalo, N.Y. Itâs not among the 10 worst cities for working women, but in Buffalo just 23.7% of business have female owners. Birmingham is a bottom 10 city thatâs nearly as bad on this measure, with just 23.9% of businesses owned by women.
Unemployment rates soar in southern California.
Riverside, Calif., near Los Angeles, had the highest unemployment rate among female workers, at 9.5%. Of the 10 bottom-ranked cities, Memphis and Detroit are close behind with respective unemployment rates of 7.9% and 7.5% among women.
Wage gaps span the map.
New Orleans has the widest gap in earnings between men and women of all 50 cities (tied with San Jose). In both cities, womenâs median earnings are 26.6% lower than menâs earnings, but the Big Easy is also weighed down by low rates of female representation in the state legislature and parental protections. Salt Lake City nearly matches New Orleans and San Jose with a pay gap of 26.5% between men and women working there. Detroit also has wide gender pay gap that means female workers earn 25.9% less than their male peers.
Women working in Miami are the least likely to receive health coverage through their employers. Less than half (49%) of Miamiâs women have employer-based health insurance.
Charlotte drops three spots.
Already in the No. 47 spot last year, Charlotte, N.C. drops to last place in this yearâs rankings. Women have nearly nonexistent parental protections here and among the 10 worst cities, Charlotte women pay the most in child care. They see 26.5% of their paychecks eaten up by child care costs, on average.
The map and list above provides a full overview of where each of the 50 largest U.S. cities rank. Check to see if your city is among the place friendly for working women, or a spot where theyâll have the hardest time getting ahead.
The results of our rankings show that while working women are doing better in some places than others, theyâre still far from achieving parity with working men.
While itâs more difficult for women to change the working conditions and equality in their cities (or lack of it), they can still take steps to make sure theyâre getting ahead at the office. Hereâs how women can stand out at work and advance their careerÂ â and pay âÂ more quickly.
Building a career and financial foundation that works for you wonât happen overnight. But following these tips, working on your professional skills, and developing solid money habits can go a long way.
Each of the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas (âMSAsâ) was ranked against each other, on a 100-point scale, based on eight factors relevant to womenâs ability to achieve financial and professional success. The final score for each MSA is the average of points assigned for each metric, and those points are assigned based on where the metro falls between the highest and lowest values for all metros.
The eight factors are:
For the sake of clarity, each metro name is the first city and state listed in the MSA title, which we understand to be the most populous component of each MSA. The Care Index (child care costs) refers to Norfolk, Va., which we associate with the Virginia Beach MSA.