Idaho

Women face more hurdles in Idaho than in almost any other U.S. state, study says

Thousands gather for Women’s March on Idaho

As many as 5,000 women and human-rights supporters gather at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse for the Women's March through Downtown Boise on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
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As many as 5,000 women and human-rights supporters gather at the steps of the Idaho Statehouse for the Women's March through Downtown Boise on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

If you’re a woman, Idaho is just about the worst place to be, according to a new study by finance website WalletHub. Well, except Utah.

The website’s analysis, which looked at 16 metrics related to workplace environment, political empowerment and education and health, ranked Idaho 49th in the country for women’s equality.

The study pointed out discrepancies affecting both genders — though women were most often at a disadvantage. Idaho was among the top states for disparities between hours worked by male and female employees. (Men tend to work longer hours, the study found.) Additionally, Idaho had one of the largest gaps for educational attainment, meaning men are far more likely to have advanced degrees than women.

Idaho women fared best in WalletHub’s “workplace environment” metric, where our state ranked 38th. That segment measured disparities between men and women in income, entrepreneurship, job security, unemployment and poverty rate, as well as the share of each gender in executive positions and minimum-wage jobs. It’s not clear exactly where Idaho ranked in each metric, though another study released Tuesday by American Express ranked Idaho the 18th fastest-growing state for women-owned businesses, when comparing progress since 2007.

Our state fared poorly in WalletHub’s “political empowerment” assessment, coming in 41st for metrics measuring the number of women elected to Congress, state legislature and statewide executive positions. Those stats may improve, as 2018 has been a big year for female candidates in Idaho.

But where Idaho ranked worst was in education and health, according to WalletHub. Idaho earned a 49th-place ranking for that metric, which looked at the percentage of the population with advanced degrees, as well as disparities in math test scores and the percentage of adults who couldn’t afford a doctor’s visit.

“The report’s metrics were chosen in conjunction with academics and experts in the field of women’s and gender studies,” a WalletHub spokeswoman told the Statesman. “We selected the metrics based on their insight, as well as availability of data.”

Virginia, Arizona, Texas and Utah joined Idaho as the five worst states for gender equality. On the other side of the rankings, New York, Minnesota, Maine, Nevada and Hawaii rounded out the top five. Find the full ranking and an explanation of methodology here.

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