How much money a woman earns in her lifetime depends partially on how sexist people are in the state where she’s born

Sexism in one's home state has lasting effects.

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Sexism in one’s home state has lasting effects.
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Mikhail Goldenkov/Strelka Institute/Flickr

  • If a woman is born in a state with more sexist views, she’s more likely to have a higher gender pay gap throughout adulthood.
  • She may also be more likely to get married and have her first child earlier in life.
  • That’s according to a new study by a group of researchers from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and National University of Singapore.

Take two women. Both live in New York City.

One is from Arkansas. The other one’s from New Hampshire.

They live in the same city – but because of the different levels of sexism in their respective birth places, the woman from the south is more likely to face a larger gender pay gap than the woman from the east coast.

That’s according to a new study by a group of researchers from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and National University of Singapore. First reported by The New York Times, the study reveals how a woman’s birth place and where she lives as an adult influence her salary, promotions, and how early she marries or has a baby.

One important note when examining this study: it only studies white men and women. This is, in their words, “to avoid conflating issues concerning gender with the potentially different set of considerations having to do with race,” but researchers told the Times that they expect these differences to apply to other demographics.

The most sexist states in America

First, the research establishes where sexist views around a woman’s work prevail the most – attitudes like “women’s capacities are inferior to men” and “families are hurt when women work.”

Levels of sexism were highest in the Southeast, Utah, and Appalachia and lowest in New England, the West Coast, and the Upper Midwest. In more sexist regions, the authors wrote, “a girl may grow up within a culture that prizes stay-at-home mothers over working moms, as well as early marriages and large families.”

How those beliefs affect a woman’s personal and professional life

Then, the study suggests how sexism in one’s birthplace or adult home influenced how men and women act.

“Sexism affects women through two channels: one is their own preferences that are shaped by where they grow up, and the other is the sexism they experience in the place they choose to live as adults,” according to the research brief.

Women who were born in states with higher levels of sexism experienced larger gaps in wages and employment. They’re also more likely to get married or have a child earlier, the study suggests.

Living in a more sexist state as an adult is also likely to exacerbate those life decisions, according to the study.

As Business Insider previously reported, certain states have higher gender pay gaps than others – and it seems to follow where the researchers noted sexism was highest. Places like New York, California, and Minnesota have relatively low gaps, while it’s higher in the deep south.

And across the US, mothers earn less than women without children. Meanwhile, in 2016, fathers actually made more money than men without children; their weekly take-home pay was on average $152 higher.