Work & Career
States with the Highest Gender Pay Gaps in America—And the Lowest
All is (not) fair in wages and salary, depending on where you live. Here are the states with the highest and lowest gender pay gap, according to a recent Zippia study.
Highest gender pay gap: Alabama
Alabama’s gender pay gap, which is the difference between how much men and women make, is 25.4 percent, according to the Zippia study. That could be attributed to the fact that the southern state is one of only two states (along with Mississippi) that haven’t passed any of the gender equality laws recommended by the American Association of University Women. If you’re a working woman looking for a raise, here’s how to ask for one the right way.
Highest gender pay gap: Idaho
While the current gender pay gap in Idaho (25.5 percent) has been decreasing since 2010, it’s still higher than the national average of 21 percent. Chris Kolmar of Zippia explains that even “when you control for the same job at the same level at the same company, there really shouldn’t be any gap at that level of comparison, so that’s all gender bias playing a role.”
Highest gender pay gap: Oklahoma
In 2017, the median salary for a full-time working man in Oklahoma was $46,114, compared to $35,488 for full-time working women. And two years later, the state’s gender pay gap is now up to 25.5 percent and unfortunately is even larger for women of color.
Highest gender pay gap: Montana
At 25.5 percent, Montana has the same gender pay gap as Idaho and Oklahoma. But the state, like many others, has found that that inequity varies based on the type of job. For instance, in Montana, government workers face the narrowest gap of 15 percent, while private for-profit workers face the largest of 32 percent.
Highest gender pay gap: Indiana
It isn’t just the state of Indiana as a whole that ranks low for equal pay with a gap of 26 percent—the central Indiana region also came in sixth of the 25 major metropolitan areas across the United States with the worst gender pay gaps. Only Seattle, Pittsburgh, Chicago, St. Louis, and Detroit had a higher disparity in wages between men and women.
Highest gender pay gap: North Dakota
A gender pay gap of 26.9 percent may not seem all that bad…until you look at it big picture. In North Dakota, for instance, full-time working women lose a total of more than $3 billion dollars a year due to income inequity, which amounts to 19 additional months of rent or nearly two additional years of child care.
Highest gender pay gap: Wyoming
Wyoming may have the fourth-worst gender pay gap, at 29 percent, but it isn’t all bad news for the seemingly ironically named Equality State. Of all 50 states, Wyoming has seen the biggest increase in wages for women, jumping nearly 7 percent since 2010. Here are 16 more ways women still aren’t equal to men in the United States.
Highest gender pay gap: West Virginia
“Wild and Wonderful” may be West Virginia’s motto but the state isn’t so wonderful when it comes to equal pay. With a pay gap of 29.1 percent, female full-timers aren’t making nearly as much as their male colleagues.
Highest gender pay gap: Utah
Despite research that’s shown that women make the best bosses, Utah’s working women still aren’t making as much as their male counterparts. The state has the second-highest gender pay gap in the United States at 29.8 percent, meaning that women earn 70 cents to every dollar earned by men.
Highest gender pay gap: Louisiana
“A big driver in the variation between states has to do with additional state-level gender discrimination and equal pay laws that go above and beyond the federal Equal Pay Law of 1963,” Kolmar explains, adding that Louisiana’s highest gender wage gap “coincides with the lack of any additional gender pay laws apart from the Federal Equal Pay Law.” At 31.1 percent, Louisiana has the highest gender pay gap in the United States.
Lowest gender pay gap: Colorado
Colorado may have one of the top ten narrowest pay gaps in the United States already (17.7 percent) but that could improve even further thanks to a new equal pay law that goes into effect on January 1, 2021. The legislation would allow anyone who believes they are being paid less due to their gender to sue their employer.
Lowest gender pay gap: North Carolina
On average, North Carolina working women make 82.7 cents to the dollar compared to men. And while the gender pay gap is slowly but surely lessening in the Tarheel State, there are other ways that women can boost their wages—like by negotiating your salary, which can add an extra $5,000 per year.
Lowest gender pay gap: Rhode Island
Rhode Island may be poised to see its current gender pay gap of 16.7 percent narrow over the coming years as the state finds itself with the most women elected to its General Assembly in history. Many hope that the “Women’s Economic Justice Platform” will find new solutions to income inequity.
Lowest gender pay gap: Vermont
While the average salary varies across the United States (here’s the state where people get paid the most), it also varies across genders in Vermont, where the pay gap is 16.5 percent. That’s down nearly 7 percent from the higher-than-the-national-average 23.1 percent the state faced in 2005.
Lowest gender pay gap: Arizona
Like most states, Arizona’s 15.9 percent pay gap could be due to both gender bias and the fact that many women take time off from their careers during pregnancy or early motherhood, Kolmar notes. “Any misstep along the career ladder can lead to future pay problems, so if you miss that promotion because of bias or you were home taking care of a family member, it now sets you back on the ladder and can have exaggerated consequences further along in your career.”
Lowest gender pay gap: Maryland
Not only does Maryland have one of the lowest gender pay gaps in the country at 15.4 percent, but it was also recently dubbed the best state for female business owners and entrepreneurs, with 17.5 women-owned businesses per 100,000 residents.
Lowest gender pay gap: Delaware
Delaware may be a great place for working women—and it isn’t just because of its low gender pay gap of 14.9 percent. The state also has the second-highest median earnings for its female full-time workers (even after being adjusted for cost of living), according to a recent WalletHub study.
Lowest gender pay gap: Florida
The median salary of men in Florida compared to women is $42,261 to $36,746. And while any gender bias in wages isn’t acceptable, its pay gap of just 14.6 percent (well below the national average of 20 percent) makes the Sunshine State the third-best state for income equality.
Lowest gender pay gap: New York
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New York’s narrow gender pay gap of 12.9 percent could be attributed to its Paycheck Fairness Act, which prohibits employers from asking people to disclose their salary history and protects workers who discuss their pay with colleagues. More importantly, the legislation also ensures equal pay for equal work.
Lowest gender pay gap: California
“California has the lowest gender wage gap because it has one of the strictest set of laws against gender discrimination in the workplace,” Kolmar says, referencing California’s Fair Pay Act which was passed in 2016. Currently, California women, who make up about 41 percent of the state’s workforce, earn around 87.9 cents to every dollar that men earn. Get inspired by reading this top career advice from female CEOs.