The worst states for gender equality

Published: Tuesday, Sept. 2 2014 10:48 p.m. MDT


Utah was ranked as the second worst state in the country for economic equality among the sexes in a recent study by personal finance research website Wallet Hub.

According to the survey, the only state that performed worse on the various indicators used to determine economic equality was Wyoming.

Ten different indicators were used to gauge equality in this sense, everything from median pay to life expectancy were considered for the metric.

"It doesn’t take a feminist to convince anyone that the gender gap in 21st-century America remains disgracefully wide," Wallet Hub's Richie Bernardo wrote in the study's introduction. "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."

Here we've compiled the 25 worst states for gender equality according to Wallet Hub's report. Starting with #25, the worst state on the list is listed as #1.
  • Oldest first
  • Newest first
  • Most recommended
seattle, WA

No surprises here. Let us all face the facts. We don't believe in equality of the sexes. If we did, this would shock us to action.

Religious drivel aside, woman are co-equal with men as members of the human race. That a woman earns less, is less likely to be elected to political office and has worse outcomes for health is intolerable in the 21st century. We are barely better than the Islamic states. At least women in this part of the world can drive a car by themselves. However, we are in no position to judge the rest of the world when it comes to the rights of women in society.

We should be ashamed and afraid for our daughters and granddaughters.

LOU Montana
Pueblo, CO

"Utah was ranked as the second worst state in the country for economic equality" and only Wyoming was worse. The only reason Wyoming was worse is because there is only three women in the whole state.

I am very glad to see Desert News have the guts and honesty to present the story.

Minneapolis, MN

This list doesn't provide enough information as to why Utah is 2nd to last to come to a conclusion if this a good thing or a bad thing. If Utah is 2nd to last as the result of more women choosing to stay at home with their families or forsaking job advancement opportunities because of family needs then congratulations to Utah.
Personally, these gender equality issues appear to neglect the more important aspect of family life, where women traditionally play an extremely necessary and amplified role. However, that role does not come with many of the short term accolades that are available in social organizations outside the family structure. Also, the traditional mother role does not afford easy comparison with social structures that exist outside the family or even comparison between different families.
Many times, we think inequality is a bad thing. And in some situations it may be, but also in some situations it isn't.

Provo, UT

Studies can be great tools for discovering disparities and discrimination in many areas. Before I can make any judgments on to how to approach a remedy I need to know the cause for the differences.

For instance, in politics is the disparity between men women who participate because women just aren't interested or is it because of discrimination? Each state could have a different answer. Some states may have women who prefer to stay home with their children or who don't want the scrutiny that comes from political life. Maybe they prefer, or even need to work to provide for their families. Most men don't go into politics for many of those same reasons.

It doesn't matter the position that a state ends up on this list, or any list, what matters is why these differences occur.

Bluffdale, UT

Making Hawaii number one and New York number two in the best places for women to work seems a little strange versus Wyoming and Utah the worst states for women to work. I would think those states put different priorities on work versus home life and urban versus rural lifestyles. Sometimes grading apples versus oranges isn't easy to do.
Go Wyoming --for allowing the first woman to vote.


I wasn't surprised to see my home state of Louisiana as number 11. I expected to see it closer tot the top of the list. Mississippi at 16 was surprising, only because I thought it would make the top 5. The sad thing is I don't see any of it changing in my lifetime. I have four daughters. I hope they live to make change and see that change happen.

Sandy, UT

Of course the average doctor makes more than the average nurse, of course the average lawyer makes more than the average paralegal, etc., etc. . . . and the misuse of statistics goes on and on. Women typically work at lower-paid careers, work fewer hours, work fewer years, etc. It doesn't take a mental giant to figure out that a lot of the statistical conclusions are meaningless.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

I might give rusby's take on this some credibility, if it weren't for the fact that so many individuals who supposedly value the mother at home give zero value to the same woman when she chooses to re-enter the job market.

As a mother of 6 who made the sacrifice, I can testify that although society says that it wants strong families that there are no rewards that business gives to that sacrifice.

Also many women work because they must. Trickle down never really arrived for most families.

The fact that the business world does not value the work of raising children highlights the point, which may be why Utah received such a low rating. Essentially, if you have the most stay-at-home mothers, but you don't see their worth, then by definition you have gender inequality.

Nofolk, MA

The religious drivel/Islamic state comment seems extreme. Religion is of supernal importance to many people, and the drivel epithet is distasteful. It is also an extreme stretch to compare the States of Utah and Wyoming to Islamic states based on one study that does not delve into the reasons for the results.

Stalwart Sentinel
San Jose, CA

JayTee - Of course, all doctors are male and nurses are female; and all lawyers are male while paralegals are female. AmIriiiiight? Who could ever imagine gender inequality exists with such sound reasoning.

Apparently it does take a "mental giant" to figure out that many studies which found gender inequality in the workplace have already factored in and controlled for every single point you bring up. In other words, they analyzed males/females with the same job description, similar experience, similar workloads, etc... and they found that women are still paid far less on the whole. Indeed, it is not the misuse of statistics that should frustrate you, rather your misunderstanding of said statistics.

Allen, TX

Did any of you commentators read the study, or check out the parameters?

Two of the reasons Utah scored so badly:
1) Number of women VS men with college degrees. This is cultural / religious within the LDS, as it is most common that women will either drop out to raise the young family and / or work to support the husband while he completes his degree. With a dominant church which encourages stay-at-home moms, this is not surprising.
2) Life expectancy gap. Women live much longer than men in Utah. This would seem to be a positive, but in this study, the bigger the gap, the worse the score, even though it favors women.

Since 15 of the panel of "experts" are women in academia or business, it is to be expected that the criteria would be selected so as to affirm their original hypothesis that traditional gender roles are bad. To be balanced, shouldn't they have a few women who CHOOSE not to work, who stay at home with the kids, on the panel?

Salt Lake City, UT

seattle, WA--
"We are barely better than the Islamic states.
We should be ... afraid for our daughters and granddaughters."

Wow. Isn't hyperbole the best thing ever?

One opinion
west jordan, UT

As a woman who stayed home and raised a family, then brushed up on education I feel I was treated with extreme fairness and respect. My wages and benefits were wonderful and have blessed me in my retirement years. Some types of businesses pay better than others because of the nature of their services. I made as much as anyone at my level in my employment - men or women. I was treated with respect and felt my opinions and work benefited my employer and was given excellent references. I personally didn't want to climb the ladder of the corporate world because I had other interests outside of work that were very satisfying to me. I am grateful for the great companies I worked with and for the respect I received during my work years. I feel my contribution helped the companies I worked for be tops in the business.


These types of studies are akin to when our twins were infants. We had a boy and a girl. When we told people they were twins, many would ask, "Are they identical?" Well, except for the fact that one is female and the other male - ?

Equality demands are getting tiring. When are we, as a people going to stop crying about equality?

I also agree that the statement by ordinaryfolks about religious "drivel" is offensive. Should keep your mouth out of offense and you might actually be able to influence people's beliefs.

Indianapolis, IN

Ask yourself this. Have you ever personally seen an example of sex discrimination in your workplace? I have never seen a woman turned down for a job, a raise, a promotion, or acceptance into a school based on gender. Neither have my 4 co-workers (2 of whom are women). I don't remember ever hearing about an example from my family or friends either. I only hear about it from the media. I'm not saying it never happens, but if it really was a pandemic situation where our male dominated society is conspiring to keep women down, don't you think you would have seen one example for yourself by now?

Also, beware of statistical studies. Here's how they work these days. A professor will write a grant proposal based on a theory that sounds appealing to powers that be who have $. Then, instead of collecting data to see if their theory was correct, they will design experiments and collect data until they can prove that their theory was correct. The conclusion is written before the observations.

Granite Observer
American Fork, UT

They must have glossed over the fact that 100% of Wyoming's US Representatives are women.

Midwest Mom
Soldiers Grove, WI

"The conclusion is written before the observations."

The same might be said for people who dislike studies and use assumption or anecdotal certainties to explain the facts away.

"The ear that heareth the reproof of life abideth among the wise." (Proverbs 15:31)

And a note to "One opinion." I'm glad that you had a positive experience, but just because you prospered does not mean that others do not suffer. I, for one, am trying to re-enter the job market. I recently finished my education with a 4.0 GPA. I have vast experience and leadership in community volunteer work (both in and out of my church), in which I grew successful programs. I have glowing references from prominent figures in the community. I have been trying to get a job since May. I've had only one interview. It would appear that my long absence in raising children is working against me. The world may appreciate my 6 wonderful children, but it does not value the labor that raised them.

indianapolis, IN

I'm not sure why people are bringing stay-at-home moms into this discussion. The study is about people who work outside the home. It has nothing to do with whether or not you choose to stay home. That's not part of the equation. It simply says if you choose to work, Wyoming and Utah are the worst states in terms of getting equal pay and benefits to a man who does the same job.

Indianapolis, IN

Midwest Mom

Welcome to the new economy. I know guys with advanced degrees from Harvard who can't get a wiff of a job either. It's not a women thing, it's a recession thing.

Broaden your job search and keep looking. Good luck!

Deep Space 9, Ut

If you read the methodology used for the study, there is no way that Utah and its culture could ever do very well. One category was the number of male executives vs. female. Since Utah leads the nation in mothers that stay home with their kids rather than seeking employment. That factor alone shows you how the study isn't so much about gender inequality as it is a propaganda piece to encourage more women to seek careers outside the home.

Who cares if there is 1 woman executive for ever 10,000 men. What matters more is, are the children in Utah being raised by their mothers or by daycare workers?


Well, men should complain here a little. Cause a white man can easily be overlooked for a job because they aren't a women or a minority.....I know several examples where the woman was hired for a variety of reasons. Sex, beauty, appeal....things like that. Everyone seems to be fighting for the women, and the minorities these days....No one is standing up for the regular white man, middle class anymore. And you can't cause then you would be a racist. Just crazy!!!

Wyoming Jake
Casper, WY

The reason Wyoming is first is because of the type of jobs we have. Fewer women than men want to work long hours as rough-necks, miners, construction workers and in agriculture. If all we had was white collar business and medical related business Wyoming wouldn't be first.

Allen, TX

indianapolis, IN
"I'm not sure why people are bringing stay-at-home moms into this discussion. The study is about people who work outside the home."

Sorry, sshoaf. You obviously didn't read the study, only this article.

The criteria by which the 'study' was done slanted the result to say what they wanted it to say. In what way is the size of the gap in life expectancy difference an issue in fairness of employment? And they didn't care who lived longer, women or men, just the size of the gap.

Necessarily, in states like Wyoming, with many outdoor, physical jobs, and in Utah, where many women stay at home instead of entering the work force, women live considerably longer. And the size of the gap is used as a determinant of employment fairness? Why?

West Jordan, UT

Utah is also one of the top for families, and single income house holds because there are a lot of stay at home moms who value the family (childs welfare) rather than career. And where there are 2 income households, because of the focus on the family, the mother usually only works part time for obvious reasons.

I do not think all of the variables were weighed on this survey to gain an accurate statistical analysis.

Pleasanton, CA

Equality doesn't have to mean sameness. I suspect Utah ranked so low because it has more full-time homemakers than other states.

Central Point, OR

This type of survey does should be titled "political correctness by state". It really measures issues in terms of politically correct analysis, not taking into account the contributions of women to society outside the world of outside the home employment, political office, or salary levels. Women offer so much more than is categorized in these limited examinations. I don't give this type of survey any credibility.

NotInMiami, FL

These types of analyses are always flawed or incomplete and are sometimes used dishonestly. The only way to get closest to understanding if there is a gender inequality in pay is if a woman is compared to a man with the same education, the same age, the same job at the same institution/company, the same years of experience, the same personality, the same drive for advancement, the same number of kids at home (or not), and so forth. Then repeat this for a wide range of careers. You'd have to match very rigorously to make solid conclusions. You cannot form solid conclusions from analyses like this.

Further, within a short span of time, these data will be flipped. More women go to college than men. In 2006, 42% of college students were men; that gap has widened since then. Women have been the majority of students in professional and graduate schools for at least 8 years. This does not mean men and women choose the same majors and careers (and will have the same incomes) but in aggregate within the next 10-15 years, women will make a lot more money than men.

Provo, UT

Wow! Is there this much misogyny in Utah?

Billy Bob
Salt Lake City, UT

Utah is ranked that low mainly because of the large amount of women who choose to stay at home and/or delay finishing their degree. It is a choice that many make in Utah that far less make elsewhere due to religion. Any reasonable person would realize that a woman should be able to choose what she does with her time. And that her choice should be respected by others equally, whether she chooses to continue working after having children or if she chooses to stay home. And it should not matter if her choice is based on religion or other factors. Her choice should be respected. This study is biased against states where more women choose to stay at home after having children and in effect is disrespectful to the women who choose to stay at home. To truly respect women and their equality and right to choose, both choices need to be respected. This study, and feminists in general, tend to only respect those who choose to work.

Happy Valley Heretic
Orem, UT

A close friend of mine was told more than once, by her boss who was also a former legislator, that he couldn't pay her anymore than the least paid male he employed. The position she took over paid a "man" literally twice as much as she was earning doing the same job plus. When she inquired again to the discrepancy she was told that men have families to support, women work because they want to, or like money. This is a sad fact that many, I fear believe round here, but would never be so arrogant or foolish to admit it.

Cedar Hills, UT

I am happy to say that my family contributes to the "inequality." My wife has a degree but spends most of her time being a mother. It is tragic that rather than being the ideal, our situation is now looked down upon.

One opinion
west jordan, UT

Midwest Mom - Your story sounds like mine - raise a family, look for work. I started out taking any job I could find and just kept building a resume of working again. Wages weren't number 1 when I started (experience working on a job was plus enjoying my job). I went from working in a bank to a very nice job. One thing, I also went through Kelly Temporary for a while to see what I really wanted to settle in. I certainly wish you the best in your job search - don't give up! Perhaps your area does not have as low of unemployment as mine did and it will take a bit of time which is a good time to shine in a lower paying job and get good references. One thing, I didn't start back into the work field until I was about 50. I enjoyed it so much, I didn't retire until I was 75!

Provo, ut

Interesting that Wyoming and Utah were the first states to give women the vote. Look carefully how the data is measured because it doesn't take into account that more women in these states have families and chose to spend more time at home than at a job.

I know it. I Live it. I Love it.
Provo, UT

How do you measure the equality of Apples and Oranges?

If there are less women physicists because less women choose that field, then while there is an inequality, it is not undesirable. Equality for the sake of equality is arbitrary. The real question is whether we are doing the right thing.

Counter Intelligence
Salt Lake City, UT

If you begin with the premise that a squirrel is equal to a rabbit, then write only Orwellian political correct parameters designed to quantify that irrational beginning assumption, the process will inherently demean those who are not willfully blind to reality.

However, when comparing things that are actually equal: such as equal education, equal experience, equal job description; men and women are at near parity, but that would not support the desired conclusion that the world is comprised of two genders, men and victims, and that those who make traditional choices are obviously diseased and demented creatures who must be cured with social programs, affirmative action and intense sensitivity training.

"Save the women and children first" is merely passive/aggressive double speak that actually means "kill the men"; which is why I pretty much discount all stories that begin with the premise that women are inherently a class of victims (and men are evil pigs), and pick only those facts that will guarantee that conclusion, with a train load of salt.

Stafford, VA

Well spoken Counter Intelligence!!

to comment

DeseretNews.com encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.
About comments