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The Best U.S. Cities For Working Women

Find out where women are making the most progress in terms of salary and making as much as their male counterparts.

Somehow, equal pay for women is still an issue; legislation is being passed as I write this to ease the gender pay gap. But the problem isn’t equal. For the 49.3% of U.S. workers that are women, certain cities and metro areas are far more likely than others to yield a fair work environment.

Financial information company NerdWallet has rounded up a list of the best small, medium, and large U.S. cities for women in the workforce, based on the population growth rate, whether women earn high overall salaries, and whether they earn as much as men. "We used population growth to weed out [shrinking] cities like Detroit. That isn’t specific to women, but workers in general," explains Divya Raghavan, a NerdWallet analyst.

In all of the rankings—small, medium, and large cities—California gets at least two spots in the top five. In the small cities list, Napa takes first place, with a median income for full-time female workers of $46,949, women earning 91.60% of men’s salaries, and a 0.90% population growth. Rounding out the top five are Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA; Auburn-Opelika, AL; Charlottesville, VA; and Santa Rosa, CA.

The best medium-sized city for female workers is Durham-Chapel Hill, NC, which has a medium income for women of $41,736, 1.4% population growth, and women earning 93.50% as percentage of men’s earnings. The rest of the top five: Oxnard, CA; Bridgeport, CT; Stockton, CA; and Madison, WI.

Washington D.C. is the best large city for women employees—it has a median salary of $55,688, women earn 81.90% as much as men, and it has a growth rate of 1.70%. After D.C. comes San Francisco, CA; San Jose, CA; Austin, TX; and Dallas-Forth Worth, TX.

Raghavan doesn’t list every every metro area in her blog post on the analysis, but she tells me that all of them were analyzed based on census data. The worst-performing areas are mostly small cities. They include Wheeling, WV, Steubenville, OH, Jackson, TN, and Casper, WY. Casper is particularly bad; women make just 55% of what men earn in the city.

Many of the top cities on the list have strong health care and technology sectors. That’s not a coincidence. In a previous analysis, Raghavan found that computer support specialists and medical scientists have some of the highest rates of fair pay in any profession. The lowest? Pretty much anything in the notoriously sexist financial industry.

Check out Raghavan’s full list of the top metro areas here.

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