“We separated the list into large, medium and small metro areas to find places that appeal to all.”

By Divya Raghavan (Contributing Writer, NerdWallet.com.)

As of 2012, women make up 49.3% of all U.S. workers, and 41.4% of mothers (including working wives as well as single mothers) are the main breadwinners of their household. With the current economic state, many households are finding that they need two incomes to support their families. NerdWallet took a closer look at metro areas with characteristics that support working women, including a growing economy, a small gender pay gap and robust salaries.

NerdWallet calculated the best cities for women in the workforce by answering the following questions:

1. Do women earn high salaries? Cities with a higher median salary for full-time, year-round female employees received a higher overall score.

2. Do women earn as much as men? We included women’s pay as a percentage of men’s pay to assess the size of the gender pay gap as well as the presence of women in high-paying industries.

3. Is the city growing? Population growth was included in this analysis to assess the long-term growth potential of the city—people want to work in growing cities where there will be increased job potential in the future.

We separated the list into large, medium and small metro areas to find places that appeal to all.

Best small cities for women in the workforce:

1. Napa, CA

Known for its wine, Napa also boasts a low gender pay gap and a high median salary for women. This growing city is great for those who work in tourism and healthcare.

2. Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA

Hinesville and Fort Stewart’s coastal streams and lush woods make it a great citiy for nature lovers, and the metro area’s rapid growth means working residents have a bright future in the city.

3. Auburn-Opelika, AL

A college town, Auburn has an abundance of educated, academically-minded residents, and the small gender pay gap and high population growth make this an exceptionally good city for working women. Known as “The Loveliest Village on the Plains,” the city is known for its manufacturing and research firms.

4. Charlottesville, VA

The hometown of two U.S. Presidents (Jefferson and Monroe) as well as the University of Virginia, Charlottesville is known for its excellent research facilities affiliated with the university. The city is near to Shenandoah National Park, and residents enjoy a high median salary for women as well as proximity to nature reserves.

5. Santa Rosa, CA

The Santa Rose-Petaluma metro area offers wildlife corridors of the Santa Rosa Creek as well as a high median salary for women and low gender pay gap. Top employers in the area include Kaiser Permanente and the St. Joseph Health System, and both companies employ many in the burgeoning healthcare industry.

Best medium-sized cities for women in the workforce:

1. Durham-Chapel Hill, NC

Home to Duke University and the University of North Carolina, the Durham-Chapel Hill metro area is rich in research opportunities and university-related jobs. Women earn 93.5% of what men earn, and the city’s steadily growing population promises a great future for those living there.

2. Oxnard, CA

Many Oxnard residents work at Oxnard College and the other nearby universities, and this beachfront town also boasts a high median salary for women and steady population growth.

3. Bridgeport, CT

The Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area is home to many large companies, including WWE, UBS and Tasty Bite. Female residents earn a relatively high median salary, and the area is home to several universities.

4. Stockton, CA

Although Stockton has had bad press recently, the city remains a great place for working women. With jobs in the telecommunications and manufacturing industries, residents here benefit from Stockton’s low cost of living compared to nearby San Francisco and Sacramento.

5. Madison, WI

A college town, Madison offers jobs in the Wisconsin state government as well as through the University of Wisconsin-Madison. An emerging tech hub, Madison is making great strides in healthcare and biotechnology.

Best big cities for women in the workforce:

1. Washington, DC

DC women benefit from a high median salary and high population growth. Politically-minded women will find job opportunities on Capitol Hill, and the tourism industry is booming as well. Home to several universities, DC offers plenty of research resources as well.

2. San Francisco, CA

Known for its tech jobs, San Franciscans benefit from a high median salary and steady population growth. Muir Woods and Yosemite National Park are nearby, making nature easily accessible.

3. San Jose, CA

Nestled in Silicon Valley, San Jose is home to many tech companies, including Adobe, Hewlett-Packard and IBM. Sports fans will enjoy the Bay Area’s many teams, including the San Jose Sharks, and residents earn a high median salary as well.

4. Austin, TX

Austin’s rapid growth makes it a great city for job seekers and women in the workforce. An emerging tech hub, Austin has plenty of jobs in the tech industry or at the University of Texas.

5. Dallas-Forth Worth, TX

The Silicon Prairie is home to many telecommunications and information technology firms, and the area’s low cost of living and rapid population growth give the area great future prospects.

The overall score for women in the workforce was calculated from the following factors:

Median salary for full-time, year-round female employees
Women’s pay as a percentage of men’s pay for full-time, year-round workers
Population growth from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2012
366 metro areas were included in this analysis. Data was obtained from the U.S. Census

Women 2.0 readers: Tell us about your favorite women-friendly cities.

This post was originally published at Nerdwallet.com