ST. PAUL (AP) -- The wage gap between men and women in Minnesota is slightly wider than the national average, but overall the state is ranked as one of the seven best for women to live in, according to a study released Wednesday.
"When payday rolls around, it's not a question of whether women get shortchanged. It's how badly they get shortchanged," said Jane Ransom, executive director of the Minnesota Women's Foundation. "And Minnesota women get shortchanged pretty badly."
The study was done by the nonprofit Institute for Women's Policy Research and co-sponsored by the Minnesota Women's Foundation. The report gives ratings to the 50 states and the District of Columbia according to women's rights and equality, based on various economic and social indicators.
The average American woman makes about 74 cents for every dollar a man earns. Minnesota women earn a bit less -- about 73 cents on the dollar. Across the state line in Iowa, women earn 76 cents for every dollar men make.
"Of course, what it should be is dollar for dollar, equal pay for equal work," Ransom said.
The wage gap varies widely across the country. In Washington, D.C., for instance, women make about 86 cents per dollar that men make. Conversely, women in Wyoming make only 63 cents on the dollar.
In other areas, however, the report ranks Minnesota among the best places for women to live, based on health, economics, politics, education and reproductive rights.
Minnesota ranks 13th for electing women to top government jobs. The state has had women lieutenant governors, secretaries of state, treasurers and auditors. Minnesota also had more women in the state Legislature than the national average, holding 28 percent of the seats, compared with 22 percent for other states.
In political participation, Minnesota ranked fourth because Minnesota women register to vote more heavily than women in any other state aside from North Dakota and Maine. They vote more heavily than women anywhere except Montana.
Minnesota received a "B" grade for women's health due to low death rates from heart disease and lung cancer, relatively low suicide rates and average rates for breast cancer deaths, diabetes and AIDS.
The state got a "C" for protecting women's reproductive rights, putting it in the top half of the states. Minnesota allows public funding for abortions and does not require a waiting period. But the state does not require schools to provide sex education, minors must notify parents before having an abortion and a majority of women live in counties without a single abortion provider.
State policies on education, the minimum wage, welfare and unemployment insurance earned Minnesota high marks, as well. Fewer than 10 percent of women lack health insurance here, compared with 25 percent in Texas and New Mexico.
On the Net:
Institute for Women's Policy Research: http://www.iwpr.org/
Feminist Majority Foundation: http://www.feminist.org/
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.