How Sexist is Your State? A New Study Breaks Down the Data

A new study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago breaks down sexism state by state.

Just how sexist is the state you live in? As it turns out, we live in a relatively low-sexism state, Rhode Island, whereas states like Utah, Arkansas, and Alabama have some of the highest rates of “mean overall sexism,” as reported in a new study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago.

The title of the paper is “The Effects of Sexism on American Women: The Role of Norms vs. Discrimination,” which boils down to these findings:

  • The paper explains that sexist beliefs, especially those embedded early in life, have a significant impact on a woman’s ability to earn and to move  up the social class ladder.
  • Both sexism in your birth state and in the state you live currently impact your wages and likelihood of having a job if you are a woman. Background sexism, the type of sexism a woman experiences as a girl, impact a woman’s outcomes “even after she is an adult living in another place through the influence of norms that she internalized during her formative years.”
  • Residential sexism, the sexism a woman experiences where she currently lives, impacts wages and job opportunities, due to male-dominated markets practicing discrimination.
  • Prejudice-based discrimination, founded on prevailing sexist beliefs and cultural norms that vary across states, drive lower wages and less job opportunities for women.

This study is helpful to have handy in case anyone tries to make the argument that the playing field is level for women in the United States.  In fact, the playing field is full of major pits and grooves and is still giving men a decided advantage in the job markets. We have a long way to go before we are anywhere near leveling the playing field for women.

Who is funding the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago and helpful research like this? According to the 2016-2017 Annual report for the Institute, their funders include individual donors as well as family and private foundations. Here are some of the funding heavy-hitters to the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics:

 $1 million + Donors:

CME Group Foundation

The Education Endowment Foundation

Mr. Andrew M. Rosenfield and Mrs. Betsy B. Rosenfield

Mr. Donald R. Wilson, Jr.

$500,000 + Donors:

Mr. David Booth

Fidelity Investments

Mr. Belton M. Fleisher & Ms. Elizabeth S. Fleisher

Charles Koch Foundation

Mr. Jeremy J. Siegel & Mrs. Ellen Schwartz

Mr. Rex A. Sinquefield & Dr. Jeanne C. Sinquefield

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation

$100,000 + Donors: 

Dr. Edward R. Allen and Dr. Chinhui Juhn

Mr. Bernard J. DelGiorno

Mr. Philip M. Friedmann & Ms. Regan Rohde

Mr. Claudio L. S. Haddad & Mrs. Rosalie Rahal Haddad

Mr. Roy Kapani & Mrs. Manisha D. Kapani

The Kilts Family Foundation

Mr. Stephen R. & Ms. Lisa S. Rigsbee

Mr. Richard O. Ryan

Thomas W. Smith Foundation

Mrs. Marr Gwen Chapman Townsend & Mr. Stuart B. Townsend

Full List of donors is here. 


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Author: Kiersten Marek

Kiersten Marek, LICSW, is the founder of Philanthropy Women. She practices clinical social work and writes about how women donors and their allies are advancing social change.

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