Best Cities for Working Women in the U.S.

A new report from NerdWallet uses census data to rank the best cities, big and small, for women in the workforce

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Washington, D.C., Durham, N.C., and Napa, Calif. are the best cities for working women in the U.S., according to a new study by NerdWallet, a personal finance and credit card information service. Using data from the U.S. Census, the study examined 366 metro areas and ranked them on four key criteria: highest pay, smallest gender gap in salaries, prevalence of women in highest-paying industries, and population growth from 2010 to 2012.

(MORE: 10 Best Countries for Moms)

Among large cities, Washington placed highest with women benefiting from high population growth, political opportunity and a healthy tourism industry. San Francisco ranked second as the best city for women with a high median salary and steady population growth, while San Jose’s Silicon Valley companies like Adobe, Hewlett-Packard and IBM helped the tech hub come in third. Austin also made the list at no. 4 as a rapidly growing city ripe with opportunity for women in the tech industry or at the University of Texas.

The study created separate rankings for small and medium-sized cities. “We parsed the results because some people aren’t looking for jobs in big cities,” NerdWallet analyst Divya Raghavan tells TIME. “While many working women want to move to places like New York City, others want to live in smaller cities where they can raise families and send their children to quality public schools. We wanted to make sure we had results that catered to all women, not exclusively young, mobile women who are drawn to big cities.”

When it comes to salary differentials, Raghavan says some jobs, such as those held by engineers and police officers, have smaller gender pay gaps than industries such as financial services. Not surprisingly, college and university towns ranked high on the list of best smaller cities for women to live, supplying females with teaching and research jobs.

Here are NerdWallet’s 10 best big cities for working women:

  1. Washington, D.C.
  2. San Francisco, Calif.
  3. San Jose, Calif.
  4. Austin, Texas
  5. Dallas / Fort Worth, Texas
  6. Los Angeles, Calif.
  7. Denver, Colo.
  8. Raleigh, N.C.
  9. New York, N.Y.
  10. Sacramento, Calif.

The ten best medium-sized cities for working women are:

  1. Durham / Chapel Hill, N.C.
  2. Oxnard, Calif.
  3. Bridgeport, Conn.
  4. Stockton, Calif.
  5. Madison, Wisc.
  6. Fresno, Calif.
  7. El Paso, Texas
  8. New Haven / Milford, Conn.
  9. Worcester, Mass.
  10. North Port / Bradenton / Sarasota, Fla.

And the top 10 small cities for working women are:

  1. Napa, Calif.
  2. Hinesville / Fort Stewart, Georgia
  3. Auburn / Opelika, Ala.
  4. Charlottesville, Va.
  5. Santa Rosa, Calif.
  6. Olympia, Wash.
  7. Vallejo / Fairfield, Calif
  8. Salinas, Calif.
  9. Madera / Chowchilla, Calif.
  10. Trenton / Ewing, N.J.

MORE: Where is The Best Place to Be Born in 2013?

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