Yale Daily News, April 3, 2012
By Monica Desare
According to an April 2 report, Connecticut is the best state in the country for women to live and work.
iVillage, a website dedicated to women’s issues, recently released an analysis of each of the 50 states in terms of living and working conditions for women. The study was based on six categories: health and wellness, economic well-being, what helps and hinders working mothers, the number of women in elected office, reproductive rights and education. Connecticut won first place, followed by Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and California rounding out the top five.
“In a dismal time for gender equality, marked by constant and relentless attacks on rights of women, Connecticut leads by impressive example,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73 said in an April 2 press release.
Connecticut posted strong numbers in several categories. Under health and wellness, the report found that more than 81 percent of women received regular pap smears and mammograms and 46.8 percent of women were at a healthy weight. Connecticut was a leader in economic well-being as well — only 10.4 percent of the female population is below the poverty line, 34.8 percent of women in the state had 4 or more years of college and 28.1 percent of businesses are owned by women.
After it was published by iVillage, the report has been circulated in press releases by Connecticut women’s advocacy organizations like the Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW). Teresa Younger, executive director of PCSW, attributed Connecticut’s first place finish to a variety of factors including advocacy groups like her own, state legislative action and congressional leadership in Washington D.C., among others.
The gap between Connecticut and the lowest-ranking state, Mississippi, was substantial. In Mississippi, 22 percent of women are below the poverty line, the median woman earns an annual $28,879 — compared with $46,004 in Connecticut — and 68 percent of women are overweight or obese, according to the iVillage website. Additionally, Mississippi, along with Delaware, Iowa and Vermont, has never elected a woman to the U.S. House of Representatives.
Diane Whitney, a partner at the Connecticut-based law firm Pullman, said the poor conditions in some of the lowest-ranked states surprised her. She said it is easy for women living in states like Connecticut to take for granted their educational and career opportunities, calling the status of women in some of the other states “bleak.”
Still, there remains room for improvement in Connecticut, according to Younger, Whitney and U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Democrat who represents New Haven in Congress.
“[W]e still have a long way to go when even in a state like ours women still make 77 cents for every dollar made by their male counterparts in the same job,” said DeLauro, in PCSW’s April 2 press release.
Younger said the report comes at a time when women’s rights are in the national spotlight.
“This study is 100 percent relevant because there is an attack on women’s issues,” Younger said. She added that this “attack” includes setbacks to reproductive health and a women’s ability to make her own reproductive decisions.
“I think women are going to play a significant role in the election coming up and the attacks on women are letting [them] understand that their voice and role are needed now more than ever.”
According to the report, only 10.36 percent of Connecticut women lack health insurance.