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The Best Cities for Women in Business

Are you a woman looking to start a small business, expand your business or move your business to another city? Then you’ll want to know about a new study of the best cities for women conducted by BizWomen.

The study assessed the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas and used a 16-part formula that measured areas such as education level, average earnings and the percentage of women in management and leadership positions to assess where women have made the most progress, both as entrepreneurs and as employees.

Women in the top-ranking metro areas typically had four characteristics:

  1. Education: In the top 10 metro areas, 39 percent of all women have bachelor’s degrees, compared to 29 percent in the other areas.
  2. Higher pay: Typically correlated with higher education, higher-than-average pay (over $30,000) was found in 15 of the markets.
  3. Managerial experience: In the 10 top-ranked metro areas, almost 10 percent of women in the workforce have managerial jobs, compared to 8 percent in the other markets.
  4. Entrepreneurial spirit: In the 10 highest-rated metro areas, there are 314 women-owned businesses per 10,000 residents–17 percent better than the rest of the metro areas.

So what’s the best metro area for women? Drum roll, please: Washington, DC. Forty-six percent of all women there have bachelor’s degrees, and 21 percent have advanced degrees as well. The typical female worker earns $39,824 and one out of nine female employees has a management position. Washington was the only area that got five stars in all four categories above.

The rest of the top 10 best cities for women in order:

  1. San Francisco-Oakland (this city got five stars in every category but entrepreneurship)
  2. San Jose
  3. Baltimore
  4. Denver
  5. New York
  6. Boston
  7. Minneapolis-St. Paul
  8. Madison, WI
  9. Raleigh

Where don’t you want to be? Two Utah metro areas—Provo and Ogden—came in number 100 and 99 on the list, respectively. Women earn about half what men do in both regions. Finishing out the bottom five are Augusta, GA; Bakersfield, CA; and El Paso, TX.

Check out the full ranking of the 100 metro areas in the study here.

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Author information

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and, and visit her website,, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.