The Working Woman: 15 Worst Cities for Women To Live and Work

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As women's rights and gender equality are at the forefront of societal discussions, it's only natural to consider the pros and cons of crucial elements of everyday life. Have you ever wondered where women might face the most challenges regarding living and working conditions? 

In this eye-opening exploration, we review the cities that have emerged as the most challenging places for women to thrive. Several factors emerged as significant contributors to the relatively low rankings of these cities, such as below-average median earnings for female workers, adjusted to account for the cost of living. Additionally, a high percentage of women living in poverty, a limited presence of women-owned businesses, and a concerning rate of female uninsurance were noted.

1. Jackson, MS

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Image Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.

In Jackson, MS, women may confront significant challenges, including low earnings on average, making just $28,507, a striking 34.6% below the national average, and a high poverty rate, affecting 28.7% of women. 

The city also presents concerning issues in healthcare and safety, boasting the nation's highest female uninsured rate at 19.4%, the lowest quality of women's hospitals among major U.S. cities. Furthermore, there's a scarcity of women-owned businesses and restrictive abortion policies that curtail women's reproductive rights.

2. Gulfport, MS

Image Credit: Alex North / Coastal Mississippi.

The landscape can be challenging for women in Gulfport, MS, with a median income of only $29,470, 32.8% below the national average. On top of that, the city's healthcare and safety conditions are a concern, as Gulfport has the second-lowest quality of women's hospitals among major U.S. cities. Women face the same unemployment issues as in Jackson, as well as low female high school graduation rates.

3. Brownsville, TX

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In Brownsville, TX, the median income for women is $24,960, a stark 40.5% below the national average. The town also presents problems regarding healthcare and safety, with low-quality women's hospitals and a high national female uninsured rate. Another big problem is the reduced access to quality education and professional development opportunities for women, further reducing incentives for them to work and live in Brownsville.

4. Huntington, WV

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Image Credit: City of Huntington.

In Huntington, WV, women earn just $30,434, 30.8% lower than the national average. This financial strain is exacerbated by the fact that 24.9% of women in Huntington are in poverty. Additionally, women might find it discouraging that Huntington offers limited access to affordable childcare services, making it harder for working mothers to balance their careers and family responsibilities.

5. Shreveport, LA

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Image Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.

For women in Shreveport, LA, there are notable challenges to contend with, beginning with the median annual income for women standing at $31,156. Also, there is limited access to professional networking opportunities and mentorship programs for women. A lack of such resources can hinder career growth and development, making it less attractive for women seeking to advance in their careers or start businesses in the city.

6. Augusta, GA

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Image Credit: Kevin Ruck / Shutterstock.

In Augusta, GA, women's average yearly income is just $31,571. This economic disparity is compounded by 23.8% of women in Augusta living below the poverty line. Also, another notable factor that might discourage women from working and living in Augusta is the limited availability of affordable housing options, which can further strain their financial well-being and make it challenging to secure suitable living arrangements.

7. Charleston, WV

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Image Credit: Shutterstock.

In Charleston, WV, women only make $32,063 on average. Charleston also suffers from low health insurance rates among women, poor hospitals, and questionable reproductive rights. Furthermore, there's low access to affordable and high-quality educational opportunities, which can hinder personal and professional development, making it less attractive for women seeking to advance their careers in the city.

8. Laredo, TX

Image Credit: Carol M. Highsmith / Library of Congress.

A woman working in Laredo, TX, earns $25,885 every year. Moreover, the city's high poverty rate compounds these issues, as many women in Laredo struggle to make ends meet. Additionally, women face the hurdle of a predominantly male-dominated workforce. The city has a higher-than-average concentration of industries traditionally dominated by men, which can create a less inclusive and supportive work environment for women. 

9. Mobile, AL

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Image Credit: George Dodd III / Shutterstock.

Women working in Mobile, AL, typically make around $32,447 annually. Mobile also presents a particular challenge due to limited access to reliable public transportation. This lack of accessible transportation options can make it difficult for women to commute to work, especially if they don't have access to a personal vehicle, potentially limiting their employment opportunities.

10. New Orleans, LA

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Image Credit: Nicolas Henderson – CC BY 2.0 / Wiki Commons.

New Orleans has a unique cultural barrier for women in the form of gender bias in specific sectors, particularly the hospitality and entertainment industries. The city's strong tourism focus can sometimes perpetuate traditional gender roles, making it challenging for women to pursue certain career paths and advance in their chosen fields. The average annual wages are also pretty low, at $33,091. 

11. Detroit, MI

Detroit, Michigan
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Women working in Detroit, MI, will be faced with possibly making a low annual average of $25,980, severely below the national average (39.4%). There's also a unique challenge regarding the weather extremes, with harsh winters that can create additional hardships for working women, including longer commutes and potential safety concerns during the cold months.

12. Memphis, TN

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In Memphis, TN, women face economic difficulties, with an average yearly income of $34,002. Memphis is also particularly susceptible to natural disasters, particularly flooding along the Mississippi River. This can disrupt daily life, including work, and potentially lead to property damage, adding an extra layer of concern for women living in the area.

13. San Bernardino, CA

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Image Credit: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.

Women in San Bernardino, CA, earn around $30,379 annually. Not only is that on the low end of the spectrum, but California is generally an expensive state to live in. The city also needs help with its transportation infrastructure, with limited public transit options and heavy traffic congestion. This can make daily commutes more stressful and time-consuming for women, impacting their work-life balance.

14. Newark, NJ

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Image Credit: Sean Pavone / Shutterstock.

Women working in Newark, NJ, have to come to terms with a low median income of $35,472 a year. You can add that to the similar issues that all these cities share in terms of inadequate access to quality healthcare, professional opportunities, and more. One specific problem in Newark is the high cost of living, including housing expenses, which can strain the budgets of women living in the city, making it less attractive for them, despite potential job opportunities.

15. Cleveland, OH

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For women in Cleveland, OH, the high poverty rates, high violent crime rates against women, and low employment opportunities make it a difficult location to thrive. Additionally, the median annual income of $28,507 is very low compared to other prominent cities nationwide. Also, as a Cleveland native myself, I can speak to the city's topsy-turvy climate as another deterrent. The winters are harsh, and there's heavy snowfall, which can create additional hardships for working women. 

Entertainment Writer at Wealth of Geeks | + posts

Creshonda Smith is a creative writer that thrives on learning something new everyday and sharing that knowledge in a way that captivates others. She has 15 years of experience as a freelance writer for various companies, but she was previously a Clinical Social Worker, having obtained her Bachelor's and Master's degrees from The Ohio State University. After nearly 10 years in the field, she decided it was time to return to one of her childhood passions—writing that inspires. Creshonda will tackle any topic, but she prefers lifestyle articles centered around Health & Wellness, Parenting & Family Advice, Food + Drinks, Personal Growth, and Traveling. She has four beautiful children and has been married for a decade. Her favorite hobbies include traveling to anywhere there's a beach, reading, writing, and playing UNO! Creshonda has been a contributing writer for Wealth of Geeks since June 2023.