Bloomberg: Vermont, Maryland Are No. 1 in Bloomberg Equality Rankings

March 8, 2017

Bloomberg // Vincent Del Giudice, Wei Lu, and Karen Moskow

Vermont moved past Maryland to rank first in the annual Bloomberg News U.S. Gender-Equality Ranking, reflecting a significant decline among women in poverty, while Maryland held onto its No. 1 spot in the Bloomberg News U.S. Gender-Equality Leadership Ranking.

The two measures are related: Less financial hardship and greater gender parity contribute to women’s advancement in the workplace. The first ranking scored states on male-female median pay ratios, female labor-force participation, education, health coverage and poverty. Leadership rankings reflect women on corporate boards and in state legislatures, advanced degrees, six-figure salaries and business ownership.

“The gender gap is highest among people with children,” said David Harding, associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Berkeley. “Men with children are rewarded in the labor market; women with children are penalized.”

Bloomberg News U.S. Gender-Equality Ranking by State

The change for Vermont—No. 2 last year, the first time the rankings were calculated—reflects a reduction to 11.1 percent from 13.5 percent in women living below the poverty line; the percentage-point change was the largest of any state. The share of women with college degrees also rose, along with the gender pay ratio.

In 2013, the state amended its nondiscrimination laws to address male-female compensation inequity, workplace retaliation, consistent legal protections and family/work balance.

Mississippi and Louisiana, with the worst poverty scores, remained at the bottom of the gender-equality ranking.

Bloomberg News U.S. Gender-Equality Leadership Ranking by State

In the leadership ranking, Maryland continued to benefit from being close to three other state capitals and the federal government. It had the highest corporate-governance score based on female directors at large companies and percentage of top women executives.

Massachusetts moved up five spots to No. 2, mainly because General Electric Co. relocated its corporate headquarters to Boston from Fairfield, Connecticut, boosting the state’s corporate-governance score. The share of women business owners also rose. Rhode Island jumped 14 spots to No. 3 on higher percentages of women directors and business owners.

Mississippi and North Dakota stayed at the bottom as No. 49 and No. 50.

Diversity “leads to better problem solving, better outcomes and in some cases better financial performance,” said Brande Stellings, vice president of corporate-board services at Catalyst, a nonprofit organization that promotes women in the workplace.