ANNAPOLIS, MD—U.S. News and World Report has named Maryland as the number one state for gender equality. The first-ever analysis of its kind cites K-12 education as a leading factor in achieving the nation’s top ranking.
“Every child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education, regardless of what neighborhood they happen to grow up in,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “We are proud that Maryland leads the nation in expanding opportunities for women and girls. While there is always more work to do, it is especially gratifying that this study recognizes our commitment to closing the gender gap in the computer science and STEM fields, where we have made great strides. This is another example of how we are truly changing Maryland for the better.”
According to the U.S. News report, “Maryland took the top spot in the ranking’s education category, placing first among its peers for lower gender disparities in math and reading scores for eighth graders, and third among them for four-year public college graduation rates. Experts say Maryland, under the last two governors – a Democrat and a Republican – has prioritized K-12 education even as other states have scaled back funding.”
Governor Hogan has record-funded K-12 education each of his eight years in his office—totaling $55 billion—going above and beyond statutory K-12 mandates. The governor has also established the P-TECH program to improve career pathways for high school students, and the BOOST program to help students in need attend nonpublic schools. In addition to record K-12 investments, the governor has record-funded community colleges and HBCUs.
The report also emphasizes the state’s efforts to promote gender equality in STEM and computer science. In 2018, the governor enacted the ACCESS Act to help close the gender gap in computer science education, and partnered with Girls Who Code to hold the first-ever Governor’s Coding Challenge. Since the 2014-15 school year, the state has experienced a 776% increase in the number of women who took a high-quality computer science class in a Maryland public high school. To build on this trend, earlier this year, the governor announced funding to provide universal access to Advanced Placement (AP) Computer Science in every Maryland high school.
According to U.S. Census data, Maryland ranks among the top five states for the share of women-owned firms. In 2021, CNBC named Maryland as the most improved state for business due to the state’s forward-thinking infrastructure policies, including universal broadband.
The report notes, “The Old Line State’s high scores in representation and power are due in part to the representation of women in managerial roles.” Governor Hogan’s appointments across state government have included a greater percentage of women than each of his three predecessors.
Overall, the Best States for Gender Equality rankings are calculated using 13 metrics from five categories: education; economy; health; family planning and care; and representation and power.