By James Duffy, deputy sports editor
Massachusetts was ranked the fifth-best state in the US for women according to a study done by WalletHub, showing that the state is a leader in the nation, but there is still room to grow.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, WalletHub analyzed each state on 15 metrics including life expectancy and median earnings. The results were then given scores between one and 100 – a higher score meaning a better grade – and broken down into categories of women’s economic and social well-being and women’s health care and safety. The Bay State ranked 10th and fifth in these areas, respectively.
“I think one thing you’ll find is that there’s a relationship between doing well for women and doing well for other things,” Dr. Suzanna Danuta Walters, director of the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program at Northeastern, said. “One of the most important things here is the connection between women’s rights and all rights.”
Massachusetts was one of four New England states to place in the top five, as Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont claimed high marks as well. Minnesota was found to be the best state in the country.
The study also showed that states considered more liberal tend to rank higher compared to conservative ones. Blue states were ranked at an average of 19.96, while their red counterparts held a 32.79 average rank.
“That’s not a coincidence at all,” Walters said. “I think you’d find similar results if you ask questions about race or equity.”
Rachel Tenenbaum, a third-year psychology major with a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, mostly agreed with Walters but thought more could be done to address underlying aspects of feminism.
“I think being a more liberal state certainly helps in terms of women’s rights, but I don’t think there’s a perfect correlation,” Tanenbaum said in an email to The News. “There’s a lot more to the women’s rights movement than gender – race, sexuality, class, etc. are all other huge factors that make womanhood different for every woman-identified person, and many people who identify as liberal don’t grasp that, and may hold views that seem feminist at first glance but […] have problematic views on issues like race.”
The Bay State fared well in most categories and was the state with the lowest female uninsured rate, something Walters sees as incredibly important.
“One thing we know is that if you protect women’s health […] they are better able to live productive lives,” she said.
There is still obvious room for improvement, however, nationwide and in Massachusetts.
“I believe the biggest financial issue facing women today [is] the gender pay gap,” said Margaret Brooks, the director of the office of financial literature at Bridgewater State University, who was quoted in the study. “It’s critically important that we move toward an economic system in which women are paid on an equal basis with men for comparable work.”
Currently in the United States, the average white woman makes 78.3 percent of what the average white man makes, while the average black womans makes just 64 percent, according to InfoPlease.com, which is the gender pay gap Brooks referred to in the study.
“I think one of the next things [Massachusetts can improve upon] has to do with minimum wage,” Walters said. “Women will be helped disproportionately because women are disproportionately underpaid.”
Walters did see a state moving in the right direction, and saw Massachusetts’ successes in other areas of reform such as health care tie into its positive treatment of women.
“When you look at what else [the state] is doing well in, it’s not surprising to me […] that Massachusetts is doing well for women,” Walters said.
Photo courtesy Mathew Simoneau, Creative Commons