New Grad? Here Are the 5 Best Cities for Working Women
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- Based on studies, research, and analyses, these are the best cities for working women.
- Economic opportunities and other factors put Raleigh, North Carolina, at top, study says.
- Other cities with strengths include women in leadership roles, among other factors.
If you've just graduated from college and have the flexibility to choose which city to start your career, how do you decide?
Maybe you want to work in a fast-growing industry like tech and live in a city where women tech workers make the most money in the United States. Or maybe move to a city where more women hold leadership roles than anywhere else in the country.
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The gender pay gap could also be a factor for you. While women continue to earn less than men in the U.S., you could live in a city where young women outearn young men on average.
Based on studies, research, and analyses, the best five cities for working women fall into one of the five categories:
Apartment List and Fishbowl's 2022 ranking report named Raleigh, North Carolina, the best city for working women.
The ranking is based on four categories:
- Economic Opportunity: How well women succeed in the workplace, including employment rate, college graduation rate, median earnings, and the earnings gap between women and men.
- Community Satisfaction: How well women (and their families) thrive within their broader community, including violent crime rates, racial and ethnic diversity, and female satisfaction with social and dating opportunities.
- Business Representation: How much women are represented in key societal functions, including the number of local businesses owned by women and the share of local government positions held by women.
- Housing and Affordability: How much women are burdened by increasing costs of living expenses, including homes owned by women living alone and the median rent for a one-bedroom apartment.
Raleigh scored high in three categories: seventh in economic opportunity, fifth in community satisfaction, and fifth in business representation. Raleigh also finished sixth in Apartment List's best cities for Black professionals rankings, using a similar metric.
But Raleigh ranked 52nd in housing and affordability — though low scores in this category were also common for other high-ranking cities.
The tech industry is one of the fastest-growing industries, offering higher than average salaries and ample job opportunities. But it's notorious for not having many women in its ranks, especially women of color.
But things are improving for women in some cities. According to a 2021 study by SmartAsset, Arlington, Virginia, is one of the best cities for women working in tech, followed by Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, Maryland.
Women fill 33.5% of Arlington's tech jobs, higher than the national average of 26.1%. From 2018-2021, Arlington saw a 27% increase in tech employment.
Arlington's women tech workers also make a median income of $64,620 after housing costs. According to SmartAsset, these women have one of the lowest pay gaps — earning 91 cents for every dollar that men make.
Want to work for women in leadership or have a better chance of becoming a leader? Consider Washington, D.C.
A 2022 study by MagnifyMoney ranked the district as the best place for working women for several reasons, including the highest percentage of women in management positions (44.5%) across the 50 cities studied.
Women also own 24% of businesses in Washington, D.C. And more than half of its district legislators are women — 53.8% — far above the average of 32.2% from the 50 cities studied.
A Pew Research Center analysis from 2015-2019 found that young women are outearning young men in 16 cities, including San Diego, California; Flagstaff, Arizona; and Richmond, Virginia.
At the top of the list is Wenatchee, Washington, where young women earn the most relative to men. The gender earnings gap is 120% in favor of women.
Pew senior researcher Richard Fry told Forbes that he isn't sure why Wenatchee is at the top of the list. But he did note that other high-ranking cities are college towns with higher education-related jobs. These jobs may lead to a pay advantage for more qualified women.
Other potential factors include young women with a better education than men, more research by women workers into companies that pay women well and pay equity audits.
Expecting to be a mother soon or in the future? Orange, California, might be the best place to raise a family while starting your career.
A 2022 study by LawnStarter analyzed 180 of the biggest U.S. cities to find the best for new moms. LawnStarter accounted for more than 40 "mom-friendliness" factors, such as pediatrician access, the strength of breastfeeding laws, childcare costs, and new-mom support groups.
Orange ranked first in maternity care, 17th in childcare, 16th in "mom protections,'' and 11th in socioeconomics.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cities for Working Women
What is the best city for working women?
Raleigh, North Carolina, is the best city for working women, according to Apartment List and Fishbowl's 2022 ranking report. Raleigh ranked high in economic opportunity, community satisfaction, and business representation.
Which city has the best maternity care for women?
Orange, California, ranked first in maternity care services, according to a 2022 study by LawnStarter.
Which city do the most women in leadership positions work in?
Washington, D.C., has the most women in management positions, according to a 2022 study by MagnifyMoney. Women also own 24% of businesses in Washington, D.C., while 53.8% of the district legislators are women.