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Gender gaps in pay: Worst and best states

Women are paid less than men nationwide

By Rich_Maloof Dec 13, 2012 5:02PM

When it comes to pay equality between genders, America has come a long way but still has far to go.

Women’s annual earnings currently run at a national median of 77 percent of men’s earnings for full-time, year-round workers. That’s a nice bump up from the 60 percent gap of the early 1970s, when “women’s lib” was gaining steam, but progress has slowed in recent years. In fact, it’s barely budged in a decade.

Photo: Silvia Jansen/Getty ImagesAll of these gender gap stats and more come courtesy of a census-based report by the American Association of University Women. AAUW notes that in typical married households, women’s incomes account for 36 percent of total family income (as of 2008). About one third of employed mothers provide the sole source of income for their families.

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While that’s a point of pride for female breadwinners, the gender pay gap can hurt these families the most, impacting living conditions, nutrition, and opportunities for children.

Bing: Jobs that pay $100 an hour.

What can you do to make a difference? Pursuing a college education, if that’s an option, and learning how to negotiate a starting salary will help a young woman start strong out of the gate. The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act showed that when women’s voices are heard — by petitioning legislators, contacting local press, and garnering support through social media — the gap can be narrowed.

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Below are the report’s five best and five worst states for gender gaps in pay (and yes, we know Washington, D.C., is not actually a state). Median salaries are shown by gender, and the women:men pay ratio is shown as a percentage. Note that the dominant industries in a state have a big impact on ratios. In California, the significant number of women in leisure and hospitality services amounts to more female-friendly pay opportunities, whereas in the coal-mining state of West Virginia, men dominate the workforce.

To learn more, you can download The Simple Truth About the Gender Pay Gap in its entirety from the AAUW website. It’s free, too, which is helpful if the gap has you on a tight budget.

 5 Smallest Gender Pay Gaps







     As percentage

1. Washington, D.C.




2. Vermont




3. Maryland




4. Nevada




5. California





5 Biggest Gender Pay Gaps







     As percentage

47. North Dakota




48. West Virginia




49. Utah




50. Louisiana




51. Wyoming





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