Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Women fare better in N.J. and Del. than in Pa., a new report says

Overall, Maryland got the top score in "The State of Women in America" from the Center for American Progress.

A map with the report, "The State of Women in America," shows Pennsylvania bordered by four states that outranked it. Maryland was No. 1 overall, Pennsylvania No. 28.
A map with the report, "The State of Women in America," shows Pennsylvania bordered by four states that outranked it. Maryland was No. 1 overall, Pennsylvania No. 28.

Northeastern states rank high in a new report on how women are faring in America -- except in Pennsylvania.

Maryland was ranked No. 1 overall, with Vermont (No. 3) and Delaware (5) also getting a grade of A, while Connecticut (6), New York (8) and New Jersey (9) each got an A-.

Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine also made the Top 20, while Virginia landed at No. 23.

Pennsylvania was No. 28, with a C-.

Ten states got F's, with Louisiana landing at No. 50, just behind Utah and Oklahoma.

"The State of Women in America," compiled by the Center for American Progress, weighed a variety of factors in three main categories: economics, leadership and health.

Maryland topped the list for "economic security," with New Jersey, third, and New York, fifth, also getting A's. Delaware, Connecticut, Virginia and Vermont, all with A-'s, also made the Top 10.

Pennsylvania was No. 31, with a D+.

Although Pennsylvania trailed New Jersey, for example, on such issues as the gender gap in wages, minimum wage protection, and poverty, the biggest differences came in percentage of children in pre-kindergarten programs (14 percent in Pennsylvania vs. 28 percent in New Jersey) and state programs for family leave insurance (Pennsylvania no, New Jersey yes) and temporary disability insurance (Pennsylvania no, New Jersey yes).

In the category of leadership, which looked at women elected to public office and women holding managerial jobs, the rankings of Northeastern states were generally lower than their overall marks, although Maryland was again No. 1.

In leadership, New York was tied for No. 11, Delaware was tied for No. 15, and New Jersey was tied for No. 21, with a C+. Pennsylvania, tied for No. 37, got a D.

Although the Keystone State lagged somewhat in business, the gender gap was greater in politics, especially in the percentage of minority women in Congress, the state legislature or elected statewide office.

In terms of the report's selected health issues, Vermont was No. 1, with Delaware No. 3, New Jersey No. 15, and Pennsylvania No. 26.

Criteria included access to reproductive health services, reproductive rights, Affordable Care Act protections, infant and maternal mortality, and number of female residents per ob-gyn.

Pennsylvania women are more likely to have health insurance and less likely to die in childbirth in than New Jersey, but Pennsylvania has a higher infant mortality rate and has far fewer ob-gyns per woman. Pennsylvania is listed as imposing four "mandatory waiting-period and counseling restrictions" on women seeking an abortion, while New Jersey has none.

The Center for American Progress describes itself as "an independent nonpartisan educational institute dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through progressive ideas and action" in such areas as "energy, national security, economic growth and opportunity, immigration, education, and health care."

Go to the center's website to see the report, a discussion of the report, and related materials.

Contact staff writer Peter Mucha at 215-854-4342 or pmucha@phillynews.com.



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