The pay gap remains a very real struggle for women around the U.S. The latest number from the American Association of University Women estimates that, on average, women earn around 80% of what their male counterparts earn in the workforce. This, in turn, significantly hurts their ability to save enough to meet their financial goals. There are some cities, though, where that gender pay gap is less than in others – and some where it may have started wide but is rapidly narrowing.
SmartAsset analyzed data across 150 cities to find the best cities in the country for women’s pay. Specifically, we considered median earnings for women, growth in women’s earnings, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s and the change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s. For details on data sources and how we put all the information together to create our final rankings, see the Data and Methodology section below.
- California and Texas dominate the top 10 and 25. Within the top 10, there are three California cities and three Texas cities. Within the top 25, there are six California cities and also six Texas cities.
- Pay equity still needs more progress. While many cities have seen the women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings go up, more than half of the cities in our study have seen it go down. According to our data, 89 of the 150 cities we considered saw women’s earnings decrease as a percentage of men’s. There are only two cities in our entire study – Oakland, California and Dallas, Texas – where women’s earnings are at least equal to men’s. Dallas, though, does not crack the top 10 in our overall study on the best cities for women’s pay, because average women’s earnings and growth in women’s earnings there are not as high as in the top cities on our list.
1. San Francisco, CA
The No. 1 city in our study is San Francisco, California. Women’s earnings there grew 14.3% from 2015 to 2017. The median salary for a woman in San Francisco in 2017 was $76,568, the highest amount for this metric in the study. The change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s has increased by 8.1% from 2015 to 2017. As of 2017, women in San Francisco earn 90.9% of what men make.
2. Oakland, CA
Across the Bay is the No. 2 city in our top 10, Oakland, California, where the median salary for women has gone up by 14.0% since 2015 to $57,157 in 2017. That is actually 103% of the median earnings for men, meaning women in Oakland earn more than men on average. Having increased 3.3% since 2015, women’s earnings as a percent of men’s in Oakland is the highest of any city in our study.
3. Richmond, VA
Richmond, the capital of Virginia, ranks No. 3 in our study on the best cities for women’s pay. Median earnings for women in Richmond are $44,359. Though that ranks 38th overall, the 16.4% growth in women’s earnings between 2015 and 2017 is the fourth-fastest in rate in the study. With an increase of nearly seven percentage points between 2015 and 2017, Richmond also places fourth in terms of women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s earnings in 2017, at 98.5%.
4. Glendale, CA
It’s back to the Pacific Coast next with our No. 4 city, Glendale, California, one of six California cities in our top 25. Women’s earnings in Glendale increased nearly 11% between 2015 and 2017, and median earnings for women there in 2017 were $52,684, the 12th-highest rate for this metric in our study. Women’s earnings as a percentage of men increased by 8.8% from 2015 to 2017 to arrive at 92.8%. That is the seventh-highest percentage change in the study.
5. Austin, TX
Austin, Texas takes the fifth on our list of the top 10 cities for women’s pay. Median earnings for women have grown more than 16% between from 2015 to 2017 – the sixth-largest increase in the study – reaching $48,971. Furthermore, women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s increased by 5.4% from 2015 to 2017 and reached 93.2%.
6. Madison, WI
Madison, Wisconsin is in sixth place. Median earnings for Madison women increased 19.8% from 2015 to 2017, a top-three rate, and reached $48,472 in 2017. Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s increased more than 10% in Madison from 2015 to 2017, and though that’s the third-highest change for this metric in the study, women still earn almost 14% less than men do.
7. Boston, MA
The No. 7 city in our study of the best cities for women’s pay is Boston, Massachusetts. Women’s earnings grew almost 7% from 2015 to 2017, reaching $55,002, the 10th-highest amount overall. The change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s was an increase of 5.2% between 2015 and 2017, a top-25 rate. Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s in Boston is 93.4%.
8. Arlington, TX
Arlington, located just west of Dallas, is the second of three Texas cities in our top 10 and of six Texas cities in our top 25. Women’s earnings in Arlington experienced growth of more than 14% from 2015 to 2017, the ninth-highest rate for this metric overall. The 2017 median earnings for women were $40,835. Women’s salaries are 92.1% of men’s, a figure that increased 7.6% between 2015 and 2017.
9. Houston, TX
Houston, Texas ranks ninth in our study. The 2017 median salary for women there is $40,825, almost the same as in our No. 8 city, another Texas city, Arlington. Growth in women’s earnings from 2015 to 2017 was 11.5%, a top-20 rate. The change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s during that time period was more than 6%. In 2017, women’s earnings were 95.8% of men’s.
10. Chandler, AZ
The last city in our top 10 cities for women’s pay is Chandler, Arizona. The growth in women’s earnings from 2015 to 2017 was 20.7%, the largest growth across all 150 cities in the study. Women in Chandler had median earnings of $51,227 in 2017. Chandler also had the highest rate in the study for change in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s, at a more than 15% increase from 2015 to 2017 and reaching a ratio of 83.7%. That is still, however, the lowest ratio among the top 25 cities for women’s pay.
Data and Methodology
To find the best cities for women’s pay, we analyzed data from the 150 largest cities across the following four metrics:
- Median earnings for women in 2017. This is the estimated median earnings for all women 16 years or older who were employed in full-time positions.
- Growth in women’s earnings between 2015 and 2017.
- Women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s in 2017.
- Growth in women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s between 2015 and 2017.
All data comes from the Census Bureau’s 1-year American Community Surveys for 2015 and 2017.
First, we ranked each city in each category. Then we found the average ranking and used that to determine the final score. The city with the highest average ranking received a score of 100 and the city with the lowest average ranking received a score of 0.
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