By Matt Roy, Independent Newsmedia
In a state often cited at the bottom of national rankings in areas such as education and health care spending, some Arizonans may find relief in one study, which ranks the state near the middle for women’s rights.
In publishing the results of a study last week, Security.org ranked Arizona 27th out of 51 on its list of The Best and Worst State of Women’s Rights.
Security.org said they considered a variety of factors to create their national ranking, which compared 50 states and the District of Columbia.
“We wanted to examine where women’s rights are strongest in the U.S., so we looked at things like income levels, educational achievement, reproductive rights and political representation to create a best-to-worst ranking of each state and the District of Columbia,” the group stated at its website.
Their analysis considered a wide variety of quality-of-life factors, including income, employment, business ownership, educational attainment, lifespan, reproductive freedom, maternal mortality, voting and political representation.
“While some states certainly performed better than others, the truth is that no state stood out as being the far-and-away leader in women’s rights and every state has ample room for improvement,” they stated.
The 10 best states for women’s rights overall were: D.C., Maine, New Hampshire, Oregon, Iowa, Washington, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada and Colorado.
While the 10 worst states were: Louisiana, Arkansas, Utah, Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee and Georgia.
In the area of economic freedom, the Security.org study looked at employment, earnings and business ownership to rank Arizona 12th nationally. Topping the list was D.C. with Utah ranked dead last.
For health and reproductive freedom, the state ranked 31st taking into account mortality rates, lifespans and abortion rights. New Jersey took the top spot and South Dakota was listed at the bottom.
Regarding political participation, analysts looked at voter turnout, females in congress and state-level female representation to rank Arizona 15th, while D.C. topped the list with Arkansas listed at the bottom.
And to compare educational achievement among women, the study looked at rates of high school, college and graduate school graduation to place Arizona nearer the bottom at number 37. Topping the list again was D.C. with West Virginia coming in last.
But despite the gloomy assessment of educational attainment for Arizona women in the highlighted in the Security.org report, local officials recently offered a bright note in this area.
John Arnold, executive director of the Arizona Board of Regents, revealed a study conducted by his agency at May 14 breakfast event at Arizona State University West in Glendale.
He said while higher education in Arizona continues to struggle compared to other states, the state has made some gains in achievement for women.
Nationally, 31% of people over age 25 have attained a four-year degree; In Arizona, only 28% in that age group are graduates, which ranks the state 32nd, according to the ABOR study.
And while Arizona trails the national average significantly in achievement among both men and women – lagging six points behind the national average at 24% for men and eight points behind at 31% for women – four-year college graduation rates in the state are 50% higher for women than men, Mr. Arnold said.
“Our females are doing much, much better than our males,” he said. “Fully 60% of all Arizona students to earn a four-year degree or higher are female. 60-40. And it’s almost 50-50 graduating from high school. But it is 60-40 four-year degree production among females.”
Despite improvements noted in some areas, another study published earlier this spring highlighted concerns about the status of women in Arizona, ranking the state closer to the bottom at number 41.
The Wallethub.com study published in March looked at 24 key indicators to compare the status of women in the 50 states and the District of Columbia in two broad areas.
“Our data set ranges from median earnings for female workers to women’s preventive health care to female homicide rate,” Wallethub.com stated at their website.
The study measured economic and social well-being as well as health and safety based on a diverse set of criteria and data compiled from the U.S. Census Bureau and 10 other national sources.
Among indicators of economic and social success are median earnings, unemployment rate, job security, poverty rates, affordability of medical care, rates of women-owned businesses, rankings of women-owned firms and graduation rates, as well as political participation and prevailing views on women’s issues.
To measure health and safety, the study considered access to quality medical facilities, rates of insurance, health outcomes, preventative care, physical activity, obesity rates, birth weights, prevalence of clinical depression and incidence of suicide, life expectancy and homicide rates, incidence of sexual assault and prevalence of stalking.
“In 2019, women in some parts of America still get the short end of the stick — even as they outnumber men in most states,” the Wallethub.com report states. “For instance, women represent nearly two-thirds of all minimum-wage workers in the U.S. Their political representation also suffers, as women make up 51% of the U.S. population but only 25% of the Senate and 23.4% of the House of Representatives. And the prevalence of sexual harassment remains a prominent issue in 2019’s political landscape.”
The top 5 states for women cited in their study were, in descending order, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Dakota, D.C. and New York. The bottom 5 were Alabama, Arkansas, South Carolina, Mississippi and Louisiana in last place.
While Arizona failed to reach the top 5 in any of the study’s categories, it did appear in the bottom five in one, unemployment rate, ranking 48th out of 51 with 4th worst unemployment rate among women.