WalletHub, a "personal financial social network website" based in Washington, D.C., has just released a study headlined "2017: Best and Worst States for Women's Equality."
It could be a worthwhile topic, but it makes me skeptical at the outset that the findings are introduced with quotes the usual suspects (Obama-think tank the Center for American Progress and the highly ideological National Women's Law Center).
The introduction invokes the glass ceiling and sets forth the premise of the putative findings:
Unfortunately, the gender gap in 21st century America has only expanded. In 2016, the U.S. failed to place in the top 10 — or even the top 40 — of the World Economic Forum’s ranking of 144 countries based on gender equality. In fact, the U.S. plummeted to 45th position from its previous rank of No. 28.
Despite their advances toward social equality, women continue to be disproportionately underrepresented in leadership positions. According to the Center for American Progress, women make up the majority of the population and 49 percent of the college-educated labor force. Yet they constitute “only 25 percent of executive- and senior-level officials and managers, hold only 20 percent of board seats, and are only 6 percent of CEOs.” The gaps are even worse for women of color.
Speaking of data, I'd just like to highlight another data point that is pertinent in evaluating these findings: five of the fourteen "experts" associated with the WalletHub report are professors in women's and gender studies.
Keep in mind, as you peruse the WalletHub findings, that women's and gender studies departments would have to fold their tents and go out of business if women were found not to be held back by gender discrimination. So the experts have a vested interest in the outcome of this report: keeping their jobs.
The main problem with the study is that it doesn't factor in, or even consider, the choices that women make. For example, Utah has the largest gap in the number of women in executive jobs compared to men in executive jobs.
Utah is a conservative state and, whether others like it or not, women in conservative states, it might be hypothesized, could be more likely to focus on family rather than climbing the corporate ladder. Should we evict them from being full- or part-time housewives because women's studies professors believe that this executive gender gap harms women?
Must all women make choices that gender studies experts prefer for them and thus yield "good" scores?
We encourage qualified women to run for political office at IWF, but we also recognize that not all women want to be candidates. Are women less equal in a state because it has a smaller percentage of women office holders?
Incidentally, the largest gender gap in political office holding was Georgia. I bet the gender studies women aren't celebrating election to the U.S. House of Representatives of Republican Karen Handler, who defeated male Democrat Joel Ossof, though.
The report notes that the U.S. "currently ranks 73rd globally when it comes to the gender gap in political empowerment," and asks,"Are there strategies the U.S. can learn from other countries to help close this gap?" Many other states have gender quotas for elected office. I think that is the "lesson" we are supposed to learn from other countries.
One of the "experts," Sharon L. Sullivan, Professor of Theater and Chairperson of the Women's Gender Studies Program at Washburn University offers up this gem:
Women are highly represented in government in Rwanda.
Like to note that economy there is based on subsistence agriculture. So Ms. Sullivan, move to Rwanda and run for office, is that your advice?
Studies like these convince women that the deck is stacked against them, which really can hold somebody back, and inevitably have as their underlying theme the need for more government.