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Santa Barbara tops US cities for women's salaries as compared to men's

Flickr member Ryosuke Yagi
Downtown Santa Barbara as seen from the Courthouse

A new survey shows Santa Barbara is one of only two U.S. cities where women earn over ten percent more than men on average.

Financial advisory firm NerdWallet used the most-recent statistics from 529 cities nationwide to come up with its rankings of best places for women to work. 

Salaries for women in Santa Barbara came in at 115.4 percent of men's salaries, on average, making it the number one place in the nation for that specific category. Gaithersburg, Maryland—the only other U.S. city to have a pay gap larger than ten percent, came in at 111.2 percent.

The company says one key finding is that women tend to earn more in cities with large concentrations of education and healthcare jobs.

Marsha Bailey is the founder of a Santa Barbara organization that helps women succeed in starting their own companies, called Women's Economic Ventures. 

She said the NerdWallet findings match Santa Barbara's employment picture.

"We have universities, community college, Westmont College and we have a pretty extensive healthcare infrastructure with the hospitals and the clinics," she said.

In order for women to be successful, Bailey said the community needs to have the right culture. She said Santa Barbara does not have a diverse economy, which leads to fewer opportunities for women.

"So that kind of opens the door for entrepreneurship as a way for I think women to create more income for themselves than they may if they were in traditional women's field," Bailey said. 

Santa Barbara didn't do well in the overall survey, because it fell short in areas like housing costs and the percentage of women participating in the local workforce.

Bailey said she likes what she sees, but the data analyzed was only taken over the course of a year.

"Until you have several years that are indicating the same kind of results I'm not sure how much credence I would give it but at the same time it is great news and I hope that it is a trend that will continue," she said.

NerdWallet told KCBX, they are seeing some trends from previous years and will start working on 2015's data when it's released in September.

NOTE: This story was updated to reflect that Santa Barbara was not one of ONLY two cities where women earn more than men, but one of two top cities in this category. The other city is Gaithersburg, Maryland.