Maryland leads nation in economic opportunities for women
Much has changed since Isabella Firth became president of LifeSpan Network, the largest senior care provider association in the mid-Atlantic, based in Columbia, Maryland.
“When I started here 21 years ago, it was mostly men in leadership positions. Today, a significant number, if not a majority, of people in the upper echelons of senior care are women. It’s been a complete transformation, though it doesn’t surprise me at all,” Firth said.
“I’ve been very pleased to see this happen, and I know this is possible in all fields. Women should not feel limited in whatever field or business sector they pursue,” she added.
Firth’s observations are echoed by a recent Status of Women in the States report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, which found that women in Maryland are among the most economically stable in the nation.
According to the study, Maryland is the top ranking state, second only to Washington, D.C., in the percentage of women-owned businesses, at 32.6 percent. This number has grown significantly in recent years. Maryland ranks among the top 10 states with the fastest estimated growth in women-owned businesses between 1997 and 2014, at 74.7 percent, the report shows.
In an overall measure of economic stability, the study deemed Maryland the top ranking state, second only to Washington, D.C. This prompted the Washington Post to report, “Congratulations Maryland, your women are economically better off than their counterparts in any other state.”
Maryland women ranked highly in terms of income, education and healthcare: Third in the nation for the percentage of women over age 18 living above poverty, at 89.6 percent; third in the nation for the percentage of women over age 25 with a bachelor’s degree or higher, at 38.1 percent; and ninth in the nation for the percentage of women, ages 18-64, with health insurance, at 88 percent.
Millennial women, ages 16-34—who are especially vulnerable to challenges related to supporting young children and paying off student loan debt—also benefit from living in Maryland. Out of every state in the nation, Maryland’s female millennials are least likely to be poor, according to the study.
While the report does not seek to explain discrepancies between states, Firth said it’s obvious to her why Maryland women are outperforming their counterparts.
“We live in a financially strong state. There is a lot of disposable income here and a lot of intelligent people choosing how to spend it. Who wouldn’t want to do business in that kind of environment?” she said.
“There is no better time for women to take advantage of the economic circumstances, the culture and the policies that have made Maryland a great place to work,” Firth added.
Find information on the State’s unique business resources, including the Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Fund, through the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.