Is North Dakota Really One Of The Worst Place For Women?


According to this article from 24/7 Wall Street, North Dakota is one of the 10 worst states for women. In fact, it’s number five of ten thanks to a large gender wage gap and few women in the state Legislature.

But are these really valid metrics?

Recently SAB’s resident liberal wrote a column about the gender wage gap in North Dakota as well, noting that women were making significantly less than males in the state. But my problem with these comparisons is how the gender wage gap is calculated.

I don’t think it’s fair to just compare all men to all women.

Here in North Dakota, for instance, the industries that have seen booming income growth of late are male-dominated professions. Truck drivers. Construction workers. Roughnecks working on oil rigs. For better or worse, women don’t have a lot of interest in these professions. Which isn’t to say that there aren’t women working in these positions. A more sound analysis would compare women to men with the same levels of education and work experience working in same jobs.

If there’s a gap in that comparsion, then it might be fair to attribute it to some sort of an anti-female bias. But simply comparing all men to all women, knowing that men often have very different priorities and expectations when it comes to careers, tells us nothing.

The same goes for comparing rates of female service in the Legislature. Comparing percentages from state to state tells us nothing about how many women have actually chosen to run. Perhaps it is a smaller number in North Dakota than elsewhere. Perhaps a better analysis would compare the victory rate for female canidates, though I don’t think that diversity merely for diversity’s sake is all that noble a goal.

Voters cast their ballots for a lot of reasons, but one thing they shouldn’t care about is the gender or skin color of the candidates. Things like policy and experience should what matters.