W.Va. Doing Well In Gender Equality

Folks across most of the rest of the country would likely be reluctant to point to West Virginia as a hub of progressive employment and gender policy. Of course, here at home, we know one of the reasons for that impression is that we do things because they are the right things to do and best way to get things done, not because there is a law in place telling us we must do them.

However, one statistic is catching national attention — women have it better off in the Mountain State than in most of the rest of the country, at least in terms of a few focus areas studied by WalletHub. To mark Women’s Equality Day Friday, the research group looked at the most “gender egalitarian states,” based on 15 metrics that fell into three main categories.

West Virginia ranked 14th overall in the study that looked at data ranging from “the gap between female and male executives to the disparity between women’s and men’s unemployment rates.” For perspective, Hawaii ranked first overall and Utah ranked last; Ohio ranked 40th.

Better still, the Mountain State did not fall into the bottom half of rankings in any of the three major categories, ranking 13th in workplace environment, 22nd in political empowerment, and an impressive 10th in education. Diving deeper into the numbers, WalletHub notes there are only three states performing better than West Virginia in terms of gender disparity for executive positions.

As the rest of the country falls farther behind when it comes to truly closing the gender gap — the U.S. has slipped eight spots on a similar list compiled by the World Economic Forum; and two-thirds of minimum wage workers in the U.S. are women — West Virginia continues to give everyone a fair shot.

For many reasons, women and men will never be treated the same by employers — some men are not going to take time off when spouses give birth to children; and a woman might not be the best person for manual labor that requires unusual physical strength. But despite those kinds of factors, West Virginia should get credit for quietly being a place where women are closer to achieving what WalletHub calls “social and economic equality” than most other states.