But one characteristic is often overlooked: geographic location. Geography places significant constraints on the choices women can make about work.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the state where I live and teach: West Virginia. Last month, the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) issued a report that estimated a separate wage gap for each state. West Virginia is not only one of the poorest states, ranking 49th of 50 in median income, it also ranked last in terms of women’s employment and earnings. The average wage gap between men and women is larger in West Virginia than in any other state — 67 percent rather than 78 percent. This means that many West Virginia women are among the poorest of the nation’s poor.