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Last week I wrote about why people leave New York State, so it is only fair that I write about a good reason to come to the state.  The famous 1948 Seneca Falls women's rights convention in Seneca Falls, NY established the state as a leader in women's rights advocates.  Decades later,  the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified.  That amendment, ratified 98 years ago last Saturday, gave women the right to vote.  Almost a century later, as it turns out, New York is still a leader in women's rights, garnering the best overall score among all 50 states in a new Wallethub analysis.

On average our local governments/taxing authorities do pretty well, too.  The Village of Lansing and Fire District skew toward males.  The library board favors women.  The Town of Lansing and Tompkins County are pretty much even.  So maybe the criticism I have heard whenever the fire district buys a new fire engine is partially right -- 'boys with their toys' -- the numbers do favor the 'boys' part, but I would hardly call a fire truck a toy!

According to the analysis, New York is the best state in the nation for women's rights.  The financial Web site took 16 factors into consideration in determining which states had the larger and smaller gaps between the genders.

The study scored 16 metrics spanning three key areas including workplace environment, education and health, and political empowerment.  New York ranked 8th for the male/female earnings gap, 11th in work hours, 1st in educational attainment gap (women with advanced degrees) , 2nd in the minimum-wage workers gap, 2st in the unemployment gap.  New York  2nd in the political representation gap, with only Nevada having better representation by women.

Minnesota, Maine, Nevada, and Hawaii rounded out the top 5 best states for women, and Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Idaho, and -- in last place -- Utah scored the widest gender gaps (insert tasteless polygamy jokes here).

On the local level, the Lansing Town Board has two councilwomen and two councilmen, plus a male supervisor.  The Village of Lansing Board has one female Trustee, with the other three plus the mayor male.  The Tompkins County Legislature has seven women and seven men.  The Lansing Board of Education has 5 women and two men.  All five Lansing fire commissioners are men.  The Lansing Community Library Board of Directors has 8 women and one man.

The federal government scores abysmally in female representatives.  Last year only 21% of US senators were women, 19.1% of congress was women, and 21.1% of cabinet members.  California scored highest in female members of Congress, with Nancy Pelosi holding the record for highest ranking woman.

25.4% of state legislators across the nation were women this year, up from 24.9% in 2017.  The National Conference of State Legislators reports that New York fell in the 25% to 35% category of female representation in a state legislature, with 60 women serving (28.2% of assembly and senate representatives).  The majority of Assemblywomen are Democrats (42 D, 3 R).  Female senators are more evenly spread among the parties, with 8 Democrats and 7 Republicans.

Arizona and Wyoming have the highest percentage, 40% of female state legislators.  Oklahoma has the lowest at 14.1%

So New York scores pretty well.  That is not to say there isn't still room for improvement.  Wallethub scored New York 49th -- second to worst -- in the gap between male and female executives.  Wyoming, which received a below average overall score actually had the best score for the male to female executive gap.  And our state didn't do so well in entrepreneurship rates.

Speaking of the 19th Amendment, why did they call women's right to vote 'sufferage'?  It seems like you suffer less when you get to vote.  Well, maybe not -- I won't claim that recent federal elections have relieved suffering for a lot of people.  Yeah, it comes from a Latin word, 'suffragium' which means 'right to vote' or just 'vote'.  Latin, a dead language by the way, is used as an excuse for a lot of words that don't seem to make sense.  And whose harebrained idea was it to call that building at the airport a 'terminal'?  Aren't people scared enough of flying that they don't want to worry about it being their 'final destination'?  Cue the guy in the black robe holding a scythe in the baggage claim area.

Well, whatever they call it, it's a good thing that half the population was granted the right to vote in a country founded on the premise that all men (where 'men' means 'mankind', which includes both genders are created equal.  Hey, it only took 144 years to let half of US citizens vote.

That brings to mind a joke I heard in graduate school.  He told me you can't say 'women' any more, because it has 'men' in it.  And you can't change it to 'woperson' because it has 'son' in it.  So the new term has to be 'woperdaughter'.  Which sounds to me like the last name of a woman from Iceland, but you would have to spell it 'Woperdottir'.

Joking aside, it is great to be able to feel that women are, overall, tangibly valued in our state.  A low gender gap is a good reason to live in this state.  Now if they would just do something about the taxes...

Bottom line: ranking number 1 with the smallest gender gap is a pretty great statistic when celebrating the anniversary of the 19th amendment.  Or at any time.

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