I am So Moved: Do The "Best Places" Lists For Women In The Workplace Matter?

Not everyone can live and work in Hawaii, but different lists claim different cities are the best for women to succeed.

Not everyone can live and work in Hawaii, but different lists claim different cities are the best for women to succeed.

Of course Hawaii is the top of the list for best states for women to live and succeed, but it is not just about the sunshine, the amazing ocean views, the macadamia nuts and the fresh fruit.It’s about equality.A new MoveHub study “investigated the status of women in all 50 states by cross-referencing data for the gender pay gap, political representation in the state legislature, equality in education, accessibility to health insurance, reproductive rights and the number of incidents of violence against women at the hands of men.“The MoveHub report continues, “Individual rankings from each factor were combined to give an overall score of which states performed best when it comes to protecting and promoting the welfare of their female citizens.”So Hawaii wins as the best place while Oklahoma loses as the worst of 50 states for women to live, work and play. The top five also include Vermont, Minnesota, Illinois and Maryland. The bottom five include Louisiana, Utah, Mississippi and South Carolina.[bctt tweet=“Hawaii wins as the best for women to succeed while Oklahoma loses #Equality” username=“takeleadwomen”]There is some overlap with results from a 2015 Fortune report studying the best places for women to work and succeed, measuring gender pay gap, women’s participation at different levels and more.  Maryland was on that list, too, with District of Columbia (not really a state) coming in at No. 1. Massachusetts, New Jersey and Connecticut made that list.Where a woman chooses to work or open a business matters, with many different organizations weighing in on the best cities, states and regions. Depending on what the poll measures, different cities and regions make the best lists.[bctt tweet=“Where #womenleaders choose to work or open a business matters “ username=“takeleadwomen”]According to the 2016 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express OPEN, “between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms rose by 42 percent with women starting 1,072 (net) new businesses per day. Additionally, the report indicates that women-owned firms now number 11.3 million, employ nearly 9 million people and are generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenue.”American Express research shows the five states home to the greatest number of women-owned firms as of 2016 are: California, Texas, Florida, New York and Georgia. The top metropolitan areas by number of women-owned firms as of 2016 are: New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago and Atlanta.It can all seem quite confusing.Karen Quintos, executive vice president and chief customer officer at Dell, has a different list of top cities for women entrepreneurs, admittedly with some overlap. “We’ve done extensive research into this through our Dell Women Entrepreneur Cities Index (#WECities), and found that the top-ranking cities (in the U.S.) are New York and the San Francisco Bay Area. Those cities have better access to capital, tremendous amounts of talent, a supportive culture and accessible technology – all foundations for what women need to succeed.”Quintos was part of the #WhatWeNeedToSucceed campaign and submitted policy recommendations to ensure that more cities are friendly to women business owners and all professional women.“Some of the specific recommendations included modernizing and expanding existing government certification, grant and loan programs that help women-owned businesses compete to reflect changing investment models; supporting trade agreements that further liberalize trade and open new markets for businesses of all sizes; and emphasizing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and digital literacy in education and early training programs,” Quintos writes in LinkedIn.A new Zippia study found that there is indeed a gender gap, but it is about geography, starting right after college graduation. Men will move farther and more often for a new job than women will.“We used data from more than 115,000 resumes — 54,000 women and 61,000 men — and found that on average women move 318 miles from their college for their first jobs, while men move 370 miles,” Zippia found.“It indicates a slightly higher average distance traveled by males for their first jobs, across most majors. The distance isn’t being skewed by outlier majors. Also, we found that this trend holds more or less steady across the 160 academic majors we tested — men travel more for their first jobs across most majors, even for traditionally female-dominated majors like nursing and teaching.“And if you are a woman in the tech industry, where you live and work makes a complete difference in how much you earn and how far you climb in your career.[bctt tweet=“For #womenintech, where you live and work makes a huge difference” username=“takeleadwomen”]Karsten Strauss writes in Forbes that a new report from SmartAsset.com “weighs factors such as pay gap, tech jobs held by women, income and tech jobs growth.Topping the list in this year’s ranking is Washington, D.C.—for the third year in a row. According to the numbers, women in that city earn 94.8 percent of what men earn on average and 41 percent of the tech jobs there are held by women.”Other top cities for women in tech, according to the report, are St. Paul, Albuquerque, Philadelphia, Denver, Detroit, New York and New Orleans.The National Women’s Business Council developed an elaborate Entrepreneurial Ecosytem Model based on measurements of innovation, industry associations, investment sources, community building, government support, resources and human capital including universities and experts. The policy influencing group suggested regions were more important to consider than specific cities.

“There are opportunities for growth across many regional economies— even those assessed to be strong, overall —through the expansion of women’s entrepreneurship,” according to the report.

There are contradictions in the data.

“The Atlanta region ranks a modest 15th place for both ecosystem metrics but has the highest rankings for women-owned businesses share of firms with ownership that can be classified by gender (41.83 percent) and women-owned employer firms’ share of revenue (13.46 percent). This finding suggests the importance of considering both a region’s overall entrepreneurial ecosystem and the status of women entrepreneurs as interrelated but distinct aspects of a region’s economy also matters.”

So, yes, it makes a difference where you live and work and available infrastructures and networks can increase your chances of success if you live and work in a community with high success rates for women and a narrow pay gap. But really, some argue, is it really all location, location, location when it comes to success for women? With the rise of telecommuting, flex time and the possibility of virtual mentorship available from firms like Glassbreakers, partnering with Take The Lead, does your GPS location really determine your success? “Cities and towns will no longer have the company town effect, both for good and for ill; the idea of luring a single employer for such purpose will become less tempting. Essentially, this shift moderates the large up- and down-swings of economies into a more stable middle,” writes Maureen Murtha in HeroX.“Traditional techniques for organizing workers won’t work when workers are spread around the world, but new ones likely will. Succeeding in jobs will likely require somewhat different skillsets as well — e.g., ones around organization and communication. These aren’t highly specialized, but they will impose a cultural penalty on people who don’t have them. Generational shift will almost certainly play a role,” Murtha writes.Looking far into the future over the next century, Murtha continues, “A likely impact is that Generation A (the one just being born now, entering the workforce en masse late in the economic shift phase) is going to be far less concerned with moving to places for work, and far more concerned with where they live for other reasons. In the developed world, this could reverse the trend of nuclear families; staying close to your extended family suddenly makes a lot more sense.”