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Top 20 ranking for California in ‘Women-Friendly’ study
Women friendly

With Women’s History Month observed in March, the personal-finance website WalletHub recently released its report on the Best and Worst States for Women in 2024, as well as expert commentary, to highlight the areas that provide an ideal living environment for women and the places that are in need of improvement.

According to the report, women in some parts of America still get the short end of the stick – even as they outnumber men in most states. For instance, women represent more than two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in the U.S. Their political representation also suffers, as women make up nearly 51 percent of the U.S. population but only 25 percent of the Senate and 29 percent of the House of Representatives.

To identify the most women-friendly states, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 25 key metrics. The data set ranges from median earnings for female workers to women’s health care to the female homicide rate.

Massachusetts came out on top, as the highest rated ‘women friendly’ state, followed by Washington, DC; Minnesota, Vermont and Maine rounding out the top five. California came in at number 16 overall. In the bottom five were Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Oklahoma.


Woman-Friendliness of California (1=Best, 25=Avg.)

Overall Rank: 16th

50th – Median Earnings for Female Workers (Adjusted for Cost of Living)

46th – Unemployment Rate for Women

28th – Share of Women in Poverty

8th – Share of Women-Owned Businesses

17th – High School Graduation Rate for Women

34th – Share of Women Who Voted in 2020 Presidential Election

23rd – Female Uninsured Rate

2nd – Women’s Life Expectancy at Birth

11th – Quality of Women’s Hospitals

20th – Women’s Preventive Health Care

“Women in the U.S. still face a lot of adversity, so living in the right state can greatly impact their quality of life. The best states for women provide equitable economic conditions, encourage robust political participation, have quality health care, and ensure safety for the women who reside there,” said Cassandra Happe, WalletHub Analyst. “Massachusetts is the best state for women in 2024, in part because it has one of the lowest unemployment rates for women and the lowest share of women who don’t have health insurance. Massachusetts hospitals rank third in the nation for women’s health care, and the state has the third-highest life expectancy for women, too.”

For the full report, visit:


Expert Commentary

With more than 56 percent of women saying mental health is a concern, and just 37 percent saying they can switch off from work (down from 45 percent in 2022), how should employers address this issue?

“Employers can take several steps to promote a positive work environment and support the mental health of their employees. This includes fostering a culture where employees can truly disconnect from work outside of designated hours, such as by scheduling emails to be sent during business hours only. Additionally, employers should prioritize work-life balance and acknowledge that employees have lives and families beyond the workplace, starting from leadership down to create a supportive culture.”

Miriam Liss – Professor, University of Mary Washington


What should a state-level public policy agenda for women include?

“Sufficient support for foster care programs; subsidies to make high-quality infant and childcare accessible and affordable, similar to what many European nations do; laws or programs that mandate or encourage paid parental leave of six months to a year; programs to address wage inequalities based on race and gender—which are related to a state’s record on worker protections and the rights to organize. A minimum wage higher than the paltry and hugely insufficient federal one. The best states for women will have in place a system of progressive taxation to raise money to fund the social programs mentioned above. Corporations should be taxed fairly, just as individuals should be, meaning those with more resources pay more in taxes. The burden of taxation should not fall hardest on poor and struggling families. Regressive tax systems keep a state poverty-stricken and lacking in social services as well as decent school systems.”

Janet Allured, Ph.D. – Adjunct Professor, University of Arkansas (retired from McNeese State University)


“State policies should prioritize ensuring adequate income and support during challenging times, providing accessible and affordable healthcare, supporting childcare, granting access to a variety of reproductive services, and safeguarding against workplace harassment and assault.”

Jo Reger – Professor and Department Chair in Sociology; WGS affiliate faculty, Oakland University


According to a recent study, working women are experiencing worse effects when it comes to burnout and are leaving the workforce at a higher rate than men. What can companies do to decrease the high turnover rates among working women?

“Companies can commit to…paid family leave, paid sick leave, and support for childcare and other caring labor obligations that contribute to burnout. To support women in the workplace, companies also need to focus on fixing the broken rung, the crucial first step up in organizations that are the leakiest part of the pipeline for career advancement, especially for women of color. Policies that have been shown to work include pay transparency, banning prior salary history questions when hiring, training managers, dealing directly with microaggressions, and supporting flexible work options. In order to improve women’s experience at work, employers need to track outcomes and commit to organizational change.”

Jessie B. Ramey, Ph.D. – Director, Women’s Institute; Associate Professor, Chatham University