The Best and Worst States for Gender Equality


Gender inequality is a lot like pollution. It’s human-made, harmful for everyone, and ubiquitous—although some places are worse off than others. A new study released today by the McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) identifies the best and worst states for gender equality in the workplace, and explains how leveling the playing field will improve not only our culture but also our economy. 

MGI is not a social justice organization; rather, it’s a think tank with a mission to educate world leaders about the factors that influence economics. Last year, the Institute published a report on the effects of gender disparities on the global economy [PDF]. They followed that up with another report focused solely on the gender-economy connection in India; and now they’ve turned their attention to the United States. “We chose to focus on the United States,” the authors wrote, “because, among developed economies, it can secure the largest economic advantage from addressing gender inequality.” In other words, we’ve got an awful lot to gain if we can just get our act together.

How much can we gain? About $4.3 trillion per year. That’s the amount America could add to our gross domestic product (GDP) by correcting gender disparities in our nation’s workforce by 2025, and it represents a 19 percent increase over what the GDP will be if we just keep on doing what we’re doing. And even if we can’t manage total equality, we could still add $2.1 trillion a year by bringing all states up to the level of gender equality seen in the most-equal state.

To calculate the level of equality (or lack thereof) in each state, MGI analysts considered ten factors: women's participation in the workforce, the types of jobs held by women, the number of women in leadership positions, unpaid work done by women, the number of single mothers, maternal mortality, higher education for women, teen pregnancy rates, women's political representation, and violence against women. 

As a whole, the U.S. scored poorly or extremely poorly on six out of ten items: leadership and managerial positions, unpaid care work, single mothers, teenage pregnancy, political representation, and violence against women.    

“To give an idea of the considerable challenges that the United States faces,” the authors wrote, “there are just 66 women for every 100 men in business leadership and managerial positions, women do almost double the unpaid care work that men do, and there is one incident of sexual violence for every two women in the United States.” 

All ten factors were considered at the state level and compiled into what MGI calls a state parity score between 0 and 1. Higher scores indicated more equal conditions, although “high” is relative, since all 50 states did pretty badly.

The 12 worst states, from worst to not-as-bad (remember, a high score is better):

Alaska (0.58)
Arkansas and Louisiana (0.59) 
Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, Georgia, and Missouri (0.60) 
Utah and Nebraska (0.61) 
Kentucky (0.62) 

And the 12 best:

Maine (0.74)
New Hampshire, Connecticut, and Minnesota (0.70)
Hawaii, Arizona, and Massachusetts (0.69)
Montana (0.68)
Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina, and New York (0.67)

There are several points worth calling out here. First, there’s a fairly slim margin between the highest-ranked state (Maine, 0.74) and the lowest (Alaska, 0.58). Second, several of the highest-scoring states are in the Northeast, which is one of the most affluent parts of the country, while many of the low-scoring states are in the poorer Southeast—places that could benefit the most from the economic boost gender equality would bring.

The report noted that making these changes won’t be quick, and it won’t be cheap, but the long-term effects will be well worth the effort.

2017 Ig Nobel Prizes Celebrate Research on How Crocodiles Affect Gambling and Other Odd Studies

The Ig Nobel Prizes are back, and this year's winning selection of odd scientific research topics is as weird as ever. As The Guardian reports, the 27th annual awards of highly improbable studies "that first make people laugh, then make them think" were handed out on September 14 at a theater at Harvard University. The awards, sponsored by the Annals of Improbable Research, honor research you never would have thought someone would take the time (or the funding) to study, much less would be published.

The 2017 highlights include a study on whether cats can be both a liquid and a solid at the same time and one on whether the presence of a live crocodile can impact the behavior of gamblers. Below, we present the winners from each of the 10 categories, each weirder and more delightful than the last.


"For using fluid dynamics to probe the question 'Can a Cat Be Both a Solid and a Liquid?'"

Winner: Marc-Antoine Fardin

Study: "On the Rheology of Cats," published in Rheology Bulletin [PDF]


"For their experiments to see how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble."

Winners: Matthew J. Rockloff and Nancy Greer

Study: "Never Smile at a Crocodile: Betting on Electronic Gaming Machines is Intensified by Reptile-Induced Arousal," published in the Journal of Gambling Studies


"For his medical research study 'Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?'"

Winner: James A. Heathcote

Study: "Why Do Old Men Have Big Ears?" published in the BMJ


"For their discovery of a female penis, and a male vagina, in a cave insect."

Winners: Kazunori Yoshizawa, Rodrigo L. Ferreira, Yoshitaka Kamimura, and Charles Lienhard (who delivered their acceptance speech via video from inside a cave)

Study: "Female Penis, Male Vagina and Their Correlated Evolution in a Cave Insect," published in Current Biology


"For studying the dynamics of liquid-sloshing, to learn what happens when a person walks backwards while carrying a cup of coffee."

Winner: Jiwon Han

Study: "A Study on the Coffee Spilling Phenomena in the Low Impulse Regime," published in Achievements in the Life Sciences


"For the first scientific report of human blood in the diet of the hairy-legged vampire bat."

Winners: Fernanda Ito, Enrico Bernard, and Rodrigo A. Torres

Study: "What is for Dinner? First Report of Human Blood in the Diet of the Hairy-Legged Vampire Bat Diphylla ecaudata," published in Acta Chiropterologica


"For using advanced brain-scanning technology to measure the extent to which some people are disgusted by cheese."

Winners: Jean-Pierre Royet, David Meunier, Nicolas Torquet, Anne-Marie Mouly, and Tao Jiang

Study: "The Neural Bases of Disgust for Cheese: An fMRI Study," published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience


"For demonstrating that many identical twins cannot tell themselves apart visually."

Winners: Matteo Martini, Ilaria Bufalari, Maria Antonietta Stazi, and Salvatore Maria Aglioti

Study: "Is That Me or My Twin? Lack of Self-Face Recognition Advantage in Identical Twins," published in PLOS One


"For showing that a developing human fetus responds more strongly to music that is played electromechanically inside the mother's vagina than to music that is played electromechanically on the mother's belly."

Winners: Marisa López-Teijón, Álex García-Faura, Alberto Prats-Galino, and Luis Pallarés Aniorte

Study: "Fetal Facial Expression in Response to Intravaginal Music Emission,” published in Ultrasound


"For demonstrating that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring."

Winners: Milo A. Puhan, Alex Suarez, Christian Lo Cascio, Alfred Zahn, Markus Heitz, and Otto Braendli

Study: "Didgeridoo Playing as Alternative Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea Syndrome: Randomised Controlled Trial," published by the BMJ

Congratulations, all.

[h/t The Guardian]

Live Smarter
This Tool Knows If Robots Are Coming for Your Job

If you work as a cashier, you may want to polish your resume. According to the online tool “Will Robots Take My Job?” there’s a 97 percent chance your position will be replaced with technology in the not-too-distant future. Pharmacists, on the other hand, can breathe easier—they face a 1.2 percent risk level of unemployment by automation.

As reports, the website, developed by Mubashar Iqbal and designed by Dimitar Raykov, can calculate the stability of 702 jobs. It pulls its data from a 2013 report titled "The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation?” The original study projects that 47 percent of U.S. jobs risk becoming obsolete as technology advances.

To see which side of the workforce your occupation falls on, type your title into the search bar on the main page. The tool brings up your automation risk level (ranging from “Totally safe” to "You are doomed”), the job’s projected growth, and median salary and employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

With some positions, like bank tellers (risk level of 98 percent) and telemarketers (99 percent), apps and automations are already starting to phase out human beings. Fortunately, there are still plenty of tasks a robot can’t be programmed to execute. So people with creative jobs, like writing songs or naming paint colors, are safe for now.

[h/t Geek]


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