Wallethub, a personal finance website, has been ranking states on how they supportive they are of working mothers with regards to child care, professional opportunities and work-life balance, since 2014. The company's recent research is critical to the health of our workforce because women account for half of all employees, and more than 70 pcernt of them have young children.
In the states that rank the highest, the benefits create healthy environments in which working mothers can thrive.
"The categories are very much intertwined," Jill Gonzalez, an analyst at Wallethub, has said, according to Today. "These states tend to have very strong parental-leave policies. Professional opportunities are better when moms don’t have to be stressed (about missing work) and we also see that child care tends to do better, too."
Vermont is the best state for working moms, following by Minnesota, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia and Connecticut. The states that have been doing well continue to do well, fine-tuning their policies, Gonzalez added. The states that haven't done so well, however, haven't done much to improve.
The worst 10 states, Texas, Wyoming, Georgia, West Virginia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Nevada, Alabama, Louisiana and Idaho, provide the least access to child care and professional opportunities, so working mothers may struggle the most with attaining a healthy work-life balance.
Here's a list of what the worst 10 states have in common, which all have potential to be improved.
1. Limited Child Care
The worst 10 states all ranked 29th or worse when it comes to child care. Texas ranked 29th, Georgia 32nd, Wyoming 37th and South Carolina 38th, but the others all ranked well into the 40s and 50s of 50 states and the Distrcit of Columbia.
Many of these states are actually considered child cadare deserts — any census tract with more than 50 children under age five that contains either no child care providers or so few options that there are more than three times as many children as licensed child care slots, according to ChildCareDeserts.org. For example, 48 percent of people in Texas live in a child care desert, as do 45 percent of people living in Georgie, 47 percent of people in South Carolina and 41 percent in Mississippi.
As for maternity leave policies, many of the lowest-ranking states for working moms don't do too well. A state-by-state analysis gives 27 states a “D” or “F” for failing to pass laws that help new and expectant parents in the workplace, and Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Mississippi, Nevada, South Carolina and Wyoming all got Fs. Texas scored a D-. West Virginia was graded a D+ and Louisiana, which did the best, still only got a C. With poor maternity leave policies and limited or no child care options, these states aren't at all accommodating to new and young mothers.
2. Slow Professional Growth
Georgia ranked 18th when it comes to professional opportunities, so there are states worse off, but the others in the lowest-ranking 10 states for working moms didn't do nearly as decent in this category. Alabama, for example, ranked 50th, Louisiana ranked 49th and Idaho ranked 48th.
The wage gap is indicative of women's slow professional growth across the country, and it tends to vary by state. The National Women's Law Center shared an interactive wage gap map that suggests that women in the some of lowest-ranking 10 states for working moms don't fare too well financially when compared to their male counterparts. For example, women in Louisiana earn less than 70 cents for every male dollar (69.5 cents). The other worst 10 places for working moms are as follows: Texas (79.4), Wyoming (76.8), Georgia (81.9), West Virginia (72.2), Mississippi (75.3), South Carolina (77.8), Nevada (80.9), Alabama (74.4), Louisiana (69.5) and Idaho (75.9). This list means that, of the worst states for working moms, only women in Georgia and Nevada earn more than 80 cents for every male dollar — and that's still a hefty wage gap.
3. Unhealthy Work-Life Balance
While a few of the lowest-ranking 10 states for working moms places in the 20s for work-life balance, most ranked dismally. Georgia, for example, ranked the worst at 51st, and Texas and Nevada weren't far behind at 49th and 48th respectively. The aforementioned complications with child care and professional growth opportunities contribute to their poor rankings when it comes to the work-life balance category.
Gonzalez remains hopeful that Wallethub's data can incite improvement by demonstrating what’s possible by showing what's being done in other states across the country. There can be change, she's said, and women who live in the lowest-ranking states can bring this to the attention of their local authorities and business leaders. She's said that the rankings can motivate women to advocate for themselves at their companies, in their cities and statewide, where policy change may not even be talked about.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist and an adventure aficionado with a keen cultural curiosity and an affinity for solo travel. She's an editor by day and a travel blogger at HerReport.org by night.