Analysis cites prioritization of funding for K-12 education as key driver
Annapolis, MD— On Women’s Equality Day, Governor Larry Hogan announced that US News and World Report had named Maryland the number one state for gender equality. The first-ever analysis of its kind cites K-12 education as a determining factor in achieving the highest ranking in the country.
“Every child in Maryland deserves access to a world-class education, no matter what neighborhood they grow up in,” Governor Hogan said. “We are proud that Maryland leads the nation in expanding opportunities for women and girls. While there is always more work to be done, it is particularly gratifying that this study recognizes our commitment to closing the gender gap in computing and STEM fields, where we have made great strides. This is another example of how we are truly changing Maryland for the better.
Education. According to the report, “Maryland took first place in the education category of the ranking, ranking first among its peers for the lowest gender disparities in math and reading 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 cut funding.”
Governor Hogan has provided record funding for K-12 education each of his eight years in office — totaling $55 billion — going beyond statutory K-12 terms. The governor also established the P-TECH program to improve career paths for high school students and the BOOST program to help needy students attend non-public schools. In addition to record K-12 investments, the Governor has funded community colleges and record HBCUs.
The report also highlights state efforts to promote gender equality in STEM and IT. In 2018, the Governor signed into law the ACCESS Act to help close the gender gap in computer science education and partnered with Girls Who Code to host the first-ever Governor’s Coding Challenge. Since the 2014-2015 school year, the state has seen a 776% increase in the number of women who have taken a high-quality computer science course at a public high school in Maryland. To build on this trend, earlier this year the governor announced funding to provide universal access to advanced-level (AP) computing in every high school in Maryland.
Economy. According to US Census data, Maryland ranks among the top five states for the share of women-owned businesses. In 2021, CNBC named Maryland the Most Improved State for Business due to the state’s forward-thinking infrastructure policies, including universal broadband.
Representation. The report notes that “the Old Line State’s high representation and power scores are due in part to the representation of women in leadership positions.” Governor Hogan’s appointments throughout state government have included a greater percentage of women than each of his three predecessors.
Overall, the rankings of the best states for gender equality are calculated using 13 measures from five categories: education; economy; health; family planning and care; and representation and power.