By Noelle Salerno, Consultant

Here at Avalanche, we like to keep a pulse on gender equality – whether it’s quantifying wage differences, identifying the role economic developers play in narrowing the gap, or tracking educational attainment of men and women. (As of this year, women are officially better educated than men, by the way!)

We’re inspired to revisit the topic again this month. The US recently witnessed the historic nomination of our first female presidential nominee of a major political party. And who doesn’t feel empowered by all of the women rocking it at the Olympics this year, am I right? In fact, 45% of athletes that competed at the Rio Olympics are women, as you can see from this visualization tracking the progression of gender equality at the Summer Games.

This month, our sister company, Headlight Data, identified the best and worst job markets for women based on the difference between unemployment rates between women and men across large US metros.

In this article, we examine US Census data for the largest 53 metros (1+ million population) to find the best job markets for women. Even today, women in the US are more likely to be unemployed than men in most communities – meaning, more women can’t find work when they want to work.

About 40% of large metros have a lower unemployment rate for women than men. This unemployment disparity was the lowest in Buffalo NY, where the female unemployment rate was 1.4 percentage points lower than that of men in 2014 (latest data available). Pittsburgh PA, Philadelphia PA, Cleveland OH and Hartford CT rounded out the top five metros for women workers.

Gender employment equity is worst in Jacksonville FL where the unemployment rate was more than 2% higher for women than men. Portland OR, Riverside CA and Birmingham AL followed.

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There’s still much economic developers can do to narrow the gap. Get the numbers on how your community stacks up. If your community is a good job market for women, market it. If you’re trailing behind, look for the reasons why. Raise awareness among employers that gender equality is a challenge (and that they should look to unemployed women as a source of talent). Is more outreach needed to women to inform them of training programs that will give them the skills demanded by businesses in your region? Can you better empower girls and young women to pursue high-demand occupations such as those in STEM fields?

We’ll continue to keep track of gender equality indicators and keep you informed as new data is released.