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By Thomas C. Frohlich
March 17, 2015

Sunday was International Women’s Day, meant to celebrate achievements among women, and promote greater equality around the world. The United States is doing well in some areas, but continues to struggle to close the gender wage gap. In 2013, the median annual earnings of men were $48,520. Women earned just 78.8% of men’s pay, or about $10,000 less. This difference has remained basically unchanged over at least the last seven years in the U.S.

Women earn less than men in every part of the United States, although the gender pay gap varies considerably across the country. Women’s median pay in Fresno, California was slightly lower than the typical pay of men, while in Provo-Orem, Utah women earned less than 60% of what men earned, the worst pay gap nationwide. Women in the 10 areas with the worst gender pay gaps earned less than three-quarters of the median earnings of men. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed America’s 100 most populous metropolitan areas to find the regions with the smallest and widest gender wage gaps.

Click here to see the best paying cities for women

Click here to see the worst paying cities for women

A small pay gap does not mean women are well paid, just as a large difference between men and women’s earnings does not necessarily mean women have low earnings. In fact, only three of the metro areas with the smallest pay gaps had overall median earnings that exceeded the national median of $42,498, meaning both men and women were not particularly well paid.

In half of the 10 areas where women earned the least compared to men, residents had relatively high wages overall. This may actually have exacerbated the pay gap, because women in these areas were not necessarily paid more than women in other cities. Women workers in nine of the 10 metro areas with the largest pay gaps had median earnings lower than women across the nation. The median earnings of women in the one exception — the Bridgeport metro area — were relatively high at $51,837, but this figure was far lower than the median earnings of Bridgeport men.

In an interview with 24/7 Wall St., Ariane Hegewisch, study director at the Institute For Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), explained there is simply less room for wage discrimination when earnings are so low overall. “If you are a high earner, your earnings are very high,” Hegewisch said. Since women are underrepresented among top earners, areas with high median earnings are often more vulnerable to pay discrimination, she added.

Nationwide, women did not have higher median earnings than men in any of the occupations reviewed by the Census. However, different jobs tend to have different gender pay gaps. Among community and social service workers in three of the 10 metro areas with the lowest pay gaps, female workers earned more than their male counterparts.

Female scientists in five of the 10 areas with the smallest pay gaps also had higher median earnings than men, compared with the national pay gap of 86.1% in the science professions. On the other hand, women working in legal occupations — the occupation with the worst pay gap — were paid roughly half of what men were in 2013. And the pay gap among such professionals was even more pronounced in all but two of the metro areas with the worst gender wage gap.

How well-represented women are in a particular occupation is also a factor. If women are better represented they tend to be better paid relative to men, and the opposite is also true.Women working in transportation and construction jobs, for example, made up a small fraction of the workforce and were also paid far less than men. On the other hand, women made up a majority of community and social service workers nationwide, and were paid nearly the same as men.

Hegewisch explained that while making up a minority of the workforce in a particular occupation is frequently a disadvantage for women, it can actually be an advantage for men in the same situation. According to Hegewisch, male nurses, for instance, are often favored for advancements and job openings due in large part to the rarity of men in the profession.

There might be some rationale for paying women less than men In areas where women are less educated than men. However, women and men had approximately the same levels of education in all of the best and worst paying metros for women. In some cases, women had far lower median earnings despite being better educated than men. Women in the Baton Rouge metro area, for example, were more likely than men to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Yet, women in the area had lower median earnings than men, even in occupations requiring high levels of education.

To identify the worst-paying metropolitan statistical areas for women, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed women’s median earnings as a percent of men’s median earnings in the 100 largest metropolitan areas. Median earnings by metro area and by sex came from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS). A high percentage reflects a small gender pay gap, while a low percentage reflects a large pay discrepancy. We also considered median earnings for specific sectors, sub-sectors, and occupations, as well as median household income. We also reviewed data on the percentage of women and men in specific sectors. Educational attainment rates by gender also came from the American Community Survey.

These are the best (and worst) paying cities for women.


10. Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, AR

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 85.6%
> Median earnings for men: $42,039
> Median earnings for women: $35,987

Women are paid less than men in every U.S. metro area. In the Little Rock region, however, women’s median earnings equalled 85.6% of male median earnings, the 10th smallest gender pay gap. In some occupations, such as building and grounds cleaning and maintenance, women and men were paid roughly the same in 2013. Female health technologists in Little Rock actually had higher median earnings than men in similar jobs. Unlike many other metro areas with relatively small gender pay gaps, however, male health practitioners, including workers in other technical health occupations, earned approximately double what women did, despite making up a minority of the occupation’s workforce.

ALSO READ: The Worst Paying Jobs for Women


9. Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 86.0%
> Median earnings for men: $41,369
> Median earnings for women: $35,562

Women’s median earnings working in building and grounds cleaning and maintenance jobs in the Las Vegas metro area were roughly equal to men’s earnings. The metro was the only large area in the country where there was no pay gap in this occupation. Unlike most areas, women and men also made up roughly equal shares of the occupation’s workforce. In computer and mathematical occupations, women’s median earnings in 2013 was 119.2% of men’s earnings, the third highest such share compared to large metro areas. Women in the region were also paid more than men in health practitioner occupations, jobs with especially wide gender pay gaps nationwide. In addition, women working in art and entertainment jobs, a dominant sector in the Las Vegas area, were also paid more than men for similar jobs.


8. Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura, CA Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 86.4%
> Median earnings for men: $52,279
> Median earnings for women: $45,177

Women working in law enforcement earned nearly 79% of what men earned across the country. In the Oxnard-Thousand Oaks metro area, however, the median earnings of female law enforcement workers were equal to just over half of what men earned in similar jobs, nearly the worst such occupational gender pay gap among large metro areas. Women also earned just half of what men earned in personal care and service occupations — the worst gap among such jobs even though women make up the majority of the occupation’s workforce. The gender wage gap was narrower in other occupations, driving the area’s relatively small gender pay gap. In sales and related occupations, for example, women’s median earnings were 79.6% of men’s earnings, nearly the best such occupational wage gap in large metro areas.


7. Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 86.4%
> Median earnings for men: $51,903
> Median earnings for women: $44,853

Albany metro area residents were relatively well educated, with more than a third of both men and women having at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013, higher than the respective national rates. However, women in the area were paid more fairly in relatively low-paying occupations requiring low levels of education than in higher paying, higher-skilled jobs. The median earnings of female food preparation and serving related workers, for example, were $22,235, only slightly lower than the median earnings of their male counterparts. Women in education jobs, which require higher levels of education, had median earnings 73.7% of what men earned, one of the lowest such shares among large metro areas. Women also made up a majority of education occupations in the area.


6. Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 86.4%
> Median earnings for men: $40,079
> Median earnings for women: $34,644

Women represented just 5.2% of fire fighting and prevention workers in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area. They had median earnings of $31,009, however, in line with the median earnings of men working similar jobs. Women working in art-related jobs were also paid on par with men in the occupation, although median earnings for both sexes were lower than the comparable national figures. In community and social service occupations, women made up a majority of the workforce, and also had higher median earnings than men in similar jobs. This helped narrow the overall pay gap in the area.

ALSO READ: 10 Disappearing Middle Class Jobs


5. Tucson, AZ Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 86.8%
> Median earnings for men: $41,994
> Median earnings for women: $36,467

In computer and mathematical occupations, architectural and engineering jobs, and science fields, women comprised a minority of workers, and they were also paid far less fairly than women working in those fields across the country. Relatively equal pay in other occupations made up for those disparities, contributing to the metro’s fifth-best overall gender pay ratio of 86.8%. The median pay for women in buildings and grounds occupations, for example, was $21,226, 95.7% of what men earned in similar jobs, one of the highest such shares. Additionally, women in legal professions had median earnings of $48,104, lower than the national median earnings for women in the field but also 77.3% what men earned. While this figure is not especially high compared to ratios in other occupations, it was substantially better than the comparable national ratio of 52.6% in legal professions.


4. McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 87.5%
> Median earnings for men: $32,187
> Median earnings for women: $28,152

The median earnings of McAllen metro area residents were $31,065 in 2013, the lowest among the 100 largest metro areas. Both sexes also had some of the lowest educational attainment rates, at 15.3% for men, and 17.0% for women, both roughly half the percentage of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree. As Hegewisch explained in an interview with 24/7 Wall St., there may be less opportunity and less room for discrimination in areas with such low incomes. The gender pay gap was small overall in McAllen, and women were paid especially well compared to men in several jobs, such as community and social service occupations. However, women were paid much less fairly in other higher paying jobs. Median earnings for women working in business and financial jobs, for instance, were $36,419 — 70.5% of male median earnings, one of the worst such gaps.

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3. Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, CA Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 88.4%
> Median earnings for men: $51,634
> Median earnings for women: $45,634

The Sacramento metro area is one of four California metro areas on the list of 10 areas with the smallest gender pay gaps. Women fared especially well in architecture and engineering occupations and in science professions — both male-dominated fields — with median earnings equal to or greater than the earnings of male workers. The median earnings of female personal care providers were $23,657, higher than the comparable national income and greater than the median earnings of men. Men earned less than the respective national income for the occupation.


2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 88.7%
> Median earnings for men: $45,916
> Median earnings for women: $40,749

Professional female scientists working in the Los Angeles metro area made up a majority of the science-related workforce and had higher median earnings than their male counterparts. Similarly, in office and administrative support occupations, women made up more than two-thirds of workers, although this was less than the national average composition. The median earnings of female office and administrative support workers were $37,256, higher than both the median male earnings and the comparable female median earnings nationwide. LA women also fared well in transportation jobs, a male-dominated occupation. While women in the area comprised just 11.2% of the transportation workforce, their median earnings were nearly $36,000 in 2013, considerably higher than the national figure and 105.4% of the men’s median earnings, the eighth highest percentage compared to other large metro areas.

ALSO READ: The States Where the Rich are Getting Richer


1. Fresno, CA Metro Area

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 89.6%
> Median earnings for men: $39,697
> Median earnings for women: $35,557

Women working in Fresno made nearly ninety cents for every dollar a man made, the smallest gender pay gap among the 100 largest U.S. metro areas. Overall, earnings were not especially high, with a typical resident earning $37,424 in 2013, versus the national median of $42,498. And while women tended to have higher college attainment rates than men in the area, all residents were far less likely than most Americans to have completed at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013. While women made up a minority of workers in computer and mathematical occupations, as well as in the architecture and engineering professions, their median earnings were higher than their male counterparts. However, in both fields, women in Fresno did not earn more than men in similar jobs nationwide. The gender pay gap would have been even smaller if median earnings for women in legal occupations were higher. Women in such jobs earned less than 40% of what men did, an exceptionally wide gap compared to other areas with the lowest pay gaps.

Click here to see the worst paying cities for women


10. Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 73.2%
> Median earnings for men: $49,726
> Median earnings for women: $36,386

The median earnings of women working in the Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News metro area were $36,386 in 2013, 73.2% of the earnings of men working in the area, the 10th worst gender pay gap among large metro areas. By contrast, women across the country earned 78.8% of what men earned. The area’s women were slightly more likely than the men to have at least a bachelor’s degree, although this was clearly not an advantage. The severity of the area’s pay gap varied widely by occupation. Women working in the installation, maintenance, and repair occupations had earnings on par with their male peers. On the other hand, in the legal professions and architecture and engineering positions women earned 44.4% and 59.1% of the male earnings, respectively. These pay gaps were the widest compared to other occupations in the area, and were also among the worst versus comparable figures in other metro areas.

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9. Colorado Springs, CO

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 72.7%
> Median earnings for men: $50,614
> Median earnings for women: $36,800

Women in Colorado Springs held 72.3% of education positions, and yet, their earnings equalled just 70.1% of the comparable male earnings in the field. Female health practitioners in the area were paid even more unfairly. The median earnings of men working in the profession were $130,659 in 2013, well more than double the comparable figure for women. The 43.8% wage gap in the field was nearly the worst among the 100 largest metro areas. Worse yet, the median earnings of women working in science occupations were less than 42% of their male peers’ earnings. This was nearly the worst such occupational pay gap among large metro areas, despite the fact that more than two-thirds of the area science positions were held by women.


8. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 71.9%
> Median earnings for men: $72,097
> Median earnings for women: $51,837

While the median earnings of women in Bridgeport were equal to less than 72% of the median for men, they were still relatively well-off financially. The median earnings of women were $51,837 in 2013, considerably higher than the median for all Americans of $42,498. Still, the pay gap in several occupations was especially wide in Bridgeport. Women working in management positions, for example, earned 53.1% of what their male peers earned, nearly the widest gap among large metros. No large metro area had a worse pay gap among business and financial sector occupations, in which Bridgeport women earned less than 58% of what men made in the profession. Men and women in the area both had exceptionally high college attainment rates, at 46.3% and 44.7%, respectively. As Hegewisch explained, pay discrepancies are often higher among highly educated populations.


7. Tulsa, OK

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 71.6%
> Median earnings for men: $45,316
> Median earnings for women: $32,468

Median earnings in the Tulsa metro area were $39,615, one of the lower figures among large metro areas. While gender pay gaps tended to be smaller in areas with low overall earnings, discrepancies between male and female earnings in most Tulsa occupations were exceptionally bad. In business and financial occupations, where women outnumbered men, female median earnings equalled 68.4% of the male median earnings, nearly the worst such gap for this occupation. In art-related jobs, women tended to earn less than 70% of what their male counterparts earned. By contrast, nationally, women in similar occupations earned 90% of what men earned.


6. Baton Rouge, LA

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 71.4%
> Median earnings for men: $51,821
> Median earnings for women: $36,994

While people working in community and social service occupations across the country were paid relatively equally regardless of sex, women working these jobs in Baton Rouge had median earnings nearly $25,000 less than the comparable figure for men. Only the Provo-Orem metro area had a wider gender pay gap among workers in these occupations. And while female dominated occupations tended to have relatively smaller pay gaps, women outnumbered men in Baton Rouge’s community and social service jobs, as well as health technologists and technicians, and still earned far less than men in both fields. In addition, median earnings for women in sales and related occupations were less than 49% of male earnings, nearly the widest such gap. Median earnings for women working in education jobs were 97.9% of male median earnings, the second highest such share in large metro areas. Female median earnings were even higher than men’s earnings in the art professions in the area, at 117.2%, the fourth highest such figure reviewed.

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5. Bakersfield, CA

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 71.3%
> Median earnings for men: $44,704
> Median earnings for women: $31,853

Despite making up a minority of the workforces in computer and mathematical occupations, as well as in architecture and engineering jobs, the median earnings of female professionals in Bakersfield working in these fields were roughly equal to or greater than their male peers’ earnings. Also, while metro areas with overall low median earnings tended to have smaller gender wage gaps, Bakersfield’s workforce had median earnings of $39,615 in 2013, one of the lower income figures. Still, women earned 71.3% of what their male peers earned, the fifth widest wage gap. Discrepancies between men and women’s pay were most severe in art-related occupations, where the median earnings of men were $75,720, more than $50,000 greater than the comparable figure for women. Women earned 33% what men earned doing the same job, the lowest percentage among female workers in the arts compared to all large metro areas.


4. Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, OH-PA

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 71.0%
> Median earnings for men: $45,081
> Median earnings for women: $32,017

In community and social service occupations, as well as in education jobs, where women made up the majority of the Youngstown area workforces, the median earnings of female workers were greater than or close to equal the male earnings. In architecture and engineering, on the other hand, median earnings for women workers were half of the median earnings of males, nearly the worst occupational wage gap in the field among large metro areas. While women in the area had slightly better educational attainment rates than men, all area residents were far less likely than most Americans to have attained at least a bachelor’s degree as of 2013.

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3. Dayton, OH

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 70.6%
> Median earnings for men: $49,729
> Median earnings for women: $35,097

Unlike other large metro areas with the widest gender pay gaps, female managers working in Dayton earned closer to what men did than women working such jobs nationwide. And for area women working in computer and mathematical jobs, median earnings actually exceeded male earnings. However, female workers in other occupations were not so fortunate. In health diagnosing and practitioner occupations, where women made up more than three-quarters of the workforce in Dayton, median earnings for women were equal to 37.2% of male median earnings, nearly the lowest such pay share in large metro areas.


2. Ogden-Clearfield, UT

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 68.6%
> Median earnings for men: $51,689
> Median earnings for women: $35,445

Women in the Ogden metro area were paid especially unfairly in art-related fields and protective service occupations, such as firefighters. Median earnings among women in the two occupations were 55.9% and 42.8% of male earnings, respectively, some of the worst occupational pay gaps in large metro areas. Women in the area had more than 80% of health care support jobs and had median earnings of $25,148. While this was lower than earnings nationally for the same jobs, women working in these fields earned considerably more than men in similar jobs. This was exceptional, however, as area women fared worse than women nationally in nearly every other occupation in the metro. The pay gap among workers in building and ground cleaning and maintenance occupations, for example, was worse than in every other large metro area, with women’s median earnings equal to just 36.3% of male earnings in 2013.

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1. Provo-Orem, UT

> Women’s pay as a pct. of men’s: 59.8%
> Median earnings for men: $52,170
> Median earnings for women: $31,209

The median earnings of working women in the Provo metro area were $31,209 in 2013, less than 60% of median earnings for men, by far the worst pay gap among large metro areas. Unlike other metro areas with large gender pay gaps, men had a far higher educational attainment rate than women, with 41.6% of men holding at least a bachelor’s degree, versus less than 34% of women. Women who had better education still were not guaranteed fair pay. For example, women in legal occupations, which generally require relatively high levels of education, earned roughly one-third of what men did in the same jobs, nearly the worst such pay gap in large metro areas. Median earnings of women working in education fields were equal to less than 62% of median male earnings, the worst pay gap among the 100 largest metro areas. The majority of Utah residents are members of the Mormon Church. Some women’s rights groups have observed that the disparate treatment of men and women in Utah metro areas may be due in part to views held by the Church.

Click here to see the best paying cities for women

For the original list, please go to 24/7WallStreet.com.

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