Women’s Well-being: Ranking America’s Top 25 Metro Areas
Since the women’s rights movement began in the 1960s, women have secured many professional and personal rights, from more equitable treatment in the workplace to the legalization of abortion. However, inequities remain: Women still earn less than men and make up a higher percentage of the working poor despite higher rates of college attendance.
A 2012 study by Measure of America, a division of the Social Science Research Council, “Women’s Well-Being: Ranking America’s Top 25 Metro Areas” (PDF), compared the experiences of women in the most populous metropolitan areas of the United States. The researchers used the American Human Development Index, a summary measure that synthesizes government data into three primary categories: a long and healthy life, access to knowledge and a decent standard of living.
Key findings include:
- The top-scoring metropolitan areas were Washington, D.C., San Francisco, Boston, Minneapolis-St. Paul and New York; the lowest scores were Riverside-San Bernardino, San Antonio, Houston, Tampa-St. Petersburg and Pittsburgh.
- Women in Washington, D.C. ($37,657), San Francisco ($35,380) and Boston ($31,503) earned significantly more annually than their counterparts in Riverside-San Bernardino ($22,306), Pittsburgh ($23,557) and San Antonio ($24,961). The 2012 poverty guideline for a family of four in the continental United States is $23,050. Women tended to earn more in areas where a higher percentage of women were unmarried.
- Educational attainment and enrollment accounts for much of the differences in wages. Close to 20% of women in Washington, D.C., hold an advanced degree compared to only 6.9% of those in San Bernardino. “In Pittsburgh, Boston and Minneapolis-St. Paul, only about 6% of young women ages 25 to 34 did not complete high school, the best outcome on this indicator among the 25 cities. In contrast, in Riverside-San Bernardino, Los Angeles and Houston, that rate is almost 17%, nearly three times the rate among the top three.”
- “African American women face disproportionate health challenges. For instance, they are more than 15 times as likely to be diagnosed with HIV/AIDS as white women, and three times as likely as Latina women.” Close to 44% of African American women are obese, compared to 27% of all women, and they are more likely to be poor and live in distressed areas.
- Asian-American women are better educated and live longer and are less likely to be obese (7.9% vs. 27%) or smoke (3.6% vs. 15%) than other women.
The researchers noted that “understanding differences among women is critical to crafting policy and making public investments that meet their needs and expand their choices and opportunities.”
Tags: women and work
Read the study-related UPI.com article titled "Top U.S. Cities for Women's Well-Being Ranked."
- What key insights from the article and the report should reporters be aware of as they cover issues related to the status of women in the United States?
Read the study titled “Women’s Well-being: Ranking America’s Top 25 Metro Areas” (PDF).
- What are the study's key technical term(s)? Which ones need to be put into language a lay audience can understand?
- Do the study’s authors put the research into context and show how they are advancing the state of knowledge about the subject? If so, what did the previous research indicate?
- What is the study’s research method? If there are statistical results, how did the scholars arrive at them?
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example, are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
- How could the findings be misreported or misinterpreted by a reporter? In other words, what are the difficulties in conveying the data accurately? Give an example of a faulty headline or story lead.
Newswriting and digital reporting assignments
- Write a lead, headline or nut graph based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Compose two Twitter messages of 140 characters or fewer accurately conveying the study’s findings to a general audience. Make sure to use appropriate hashtags.
- Choose several key quotations from the study and show how they would be set up and used in a brief blog post.
- Map out the structure for a 60-second video segment about the study. What combination of study findings and visual aids could be used?
- Find pictures and graphics that might run with a story about the study. If appropriate, also find two related videos to embed in an online posting. Be sure to evaluate the credibility and appropriateness of any materials you would aggregate and repurpose.
Class discussion questions
- What is the study’s most important finding?
- Would members of the public intuitively understand the study’s findings? If not, what would be the most effective way to relate them?
- What kinds of knowledgeable sources you would interview to report the study in context?
- How could the study be “localized” and shown to have community implications?
- How might the study be explained through the stories of representative individuals? What kinds of people might a reporter feature to make such a story about the study come alive?
- What sorts of stories might be generated out of secondary information or ideas discussed in the study?