By: Yuqing Pan
Like it or not (and we’ll gladly assume the former), women’s issues are finally pushing to the forefront of the American conversation. How could they not in this historic campaign season where one presumptive major party candidate is female and the other is accusing her of “playing the woman’s card”? Two questions are rapidly becoming ubiquitous topics of debate:
- Where do you get those cool Woman’s Cards, anyhow?
- Can women in the workplace really and truly have it all?
Because, after all, a great career, a happy family, and some occasional “me time” in between have long been cherished and quintessentially American goals. But for many women, they haven’t always been so easy to achieve.
The widely quoted statistic that women make 79 cents to every dollar earned by men only tells part of the tale. A Pew Research Center survey found that, among parents with at least some work experience, mothers were about three times as likely as fathers to say that having children made it harder for them to advance in their job or career.
Clearly, when it comes to HIA (having it all), not all cities are the same. As Mother’s Day fast approaches (Don’t panic, you still have a few days to order flowers! Do it now. We’ll wait.), we set out to find where in the U.S. a working mom can thrive in her career, find good opportunities for her kids, get ample help with child care, and afford to put down roots in her community.
We ranked the 100 largest U.S. cities based on the following criteria:
- Career opportunity: Employment rate of women who have children; median women’s salary; women’s earnings as a percentage of men’s; ratio of female to male top executives; flexibility of work schedule, measured by the average length of women’s workday and the percentage of women working at home.
- Care for children: Number of day care facilities for every child under age 5; number of good schools (receiving a rating of 8 to 10 from GreatSchools.org) for every child under age 18; number of pediatric specialists for every child under age 18; average baby sitter rates.
- Affordability: Median home price on realtor.com®.
So let’s check out the results. This one’s for you, Mom!
Median salary of full-time female workers: $35,518
Percentage of men’s salary: 95%
Median home price: $211,000
Forget that famous 79% figure—women in this city are just 5% shy of full earnings parity with men, according to American Community Survey. Often tagged as a vacation destination (and, less charitably, oppressor of orcas), Orlando is home to a thriving and diverse business scene, and many companies here proudly tout their focus on female employees’ well-being.
The region’s largest employer, Walt Disney Co., offers free theme park admission, plus discounts on hotels and merchandise, so employees and their families can enjoy the “Happiest Place on Earth” as much as visitors do.The local branch of global consulting firm Protiviti, has an iGrowth initiative that homes in on the recruiting, retention, development, and promotion of women.
Median salary of full-time female workers: $45,198
Percentage of men’s salary: 91%
Median home price: $255,000
For those old enough to remember “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” (or young enough to have binged on it late at night on basic cable), Minneapolis was the place where the spunky, career-minded Mary Richards was “gonna make it after all.” And she didn’t even have kids! It’s still the place where career women make it—there are 1.4 female top execs to every male.
For women seeking work-life balance, some global companies here have amazing perks. Target implements a progressive maternity support program, plus gift cards upon completion of the program to help defray costs of those self-heating baby bottles and fancy strollers. You say you want some coolness in this chilly city? Creative agency Carmichael Lynch has a 17,000-square-foot roof deck with an organic garden and company-hosted yoga classes—perfect for working moms to relieve some stress.
Median salary of full-time female workers: $37,592
Percentage of men’s salary: 84%
Median home price: $164,900
Pittsburgh is a bargain for families with kids. It isn’t just the median home price that’s low—the average baby sitter costs just $11 an hour, and the city imposes no sales tax on diapers, baby clothes, or food, saving parents thousands a year. The Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC is ranked the eighth best children’s hospital by U.S. News. Here, 700 board-certified pediatric experts provide expert care for infants, children, and adolescents who make more than 1 million visits a year.
Median salary of full-time female workers: $43,241
Percentage of men’s salary: 86%
Median home price: $244,900
Moms in this Midwestern city take pride in returning to work after having kids. Of women aged 20 to 64 with children, 78% are employed, much higher than the national average of 67%. With top employers like the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the state government, women can have stable jobs that don’t require the hellish hours of, say, a financial analyst on Wall Street.
Located near two Great Lakes and more than 15,000 smaller ones, Madison has plenty of white sand beaches and waterfront bike trails for family quality time. Your brood have a short attention span? No problem! There are plenty of excellent options for mommy-child outings, including Madison Children’s Museum, Olbrich Botanical Garden’s Bolz Conservatory, UW-Madison Geology Museum, and Henry Vilas Zoo.
Median salary of full-time female workers: $40,531
Percentage of men’s salary: 79%
Median home price: $418,000
In the world of Fort Collins businesses, women hold more power than men: The ratio of female to male top executives is 1.35 to 1. One local legend is Pat Stryker, an orthopedic surgeon who founded Stryker Corp., a Fortune 500 medical technologies firm, which had $9.9 billion in sales last year, according to Forbes.
The local after-school program B.A.S.E Camps serve more than 3,000 students, providing homework help, snacks, and arts, sports, science, and music activities. The program has a sliding fee based on a family’s ability to pay, ensuring that children with limited resources have equal opportunities.