The Safest Cities for Women in America: A Study

Discussions about women’s safety and comfort in the streets are becoming more and more common in the blogosphere nowadays. The jury is still out on the relative prevalence of sexual harassment in different American cities, and examples of best practices to eradicate this problem are still being developed. The team of analysts at ValuePenguin wanted to provide a resource to measure relative violence against women across the United States. The team looked at 285 cities to determine which cities are the safest and most dangerous for women based on available data documenting incidences of rape, murder, and stalking. Use the links below to navigate by section.

Safest and Most Dangerous Cities For Women

Our team reviewed crime data for 285 cities with at least 100,000 residents. We found that the twenty safest and least safe cities are all relatively small, with populations averaging 175,000. The largest city on our list of the most dangerous is Colorado Springs, CO with a population slightly above 400,000.

Safest Cities for Women

The ten safest cities are all relatively small cities, with crime scores ranging about 7 points total. On average, the top ten cities scored 90% better than the average city on our list.

Rank

CityPopulation% WomenWeighted Crime Score
1Naperville, IL142,84051.23.9
2Woodbridge Township, NJ100,61249.78.3
3Glendale, CA194,90251.78.6
4Irvine, CA217,52850.49.1
5Oxnard, CA201,79749.39.6
6Alexandria, VA145,89251.910.4
7Simi Valley, CA126,68651.210.6
8McAllen, TX135,74551.211.3
9Waterbury, CT110,48652.811.5
10Orange, CA139,69249.511.6

Most Dangerous Cities for Women

The ten most dangerous cities are geographically diverse and generally pretty small, with crime scores ranging from 160.2 to 148.2.

RankCityPopulation% WomenWeighted Crime Score
1Anchorage, AK299,14349.3160.2
2Tulsa, OK398,90451.7156.1
3Flint, MI101,63252.5153.4
4Springfield, MO160,96251.1151.9
5Jackson, MS175,93953.9151.6
6Oklahoma City, OK196,05552.7150.6
7Lansing, MI114,68851.9148.9
7Knoxville, TN182,25451.9148.9
8Lincoln, NE264,17549.9148.3
9Colorado Springs, CO432,28750.8148.2
10Bridgeport, CT146,03052.1148.0

Safest and Most Dangerous Large Cities (Pop. Greater Than 500k)

Contrary to popular belief, bigger cities are not necessarily more dangerous for women. Our team reviewed data for the largest cities, which had populations greater than 500,000, and actually found that some of the more typically dangerous cities had lower than expected rates of violence against women. Here is the breakdown of the safest and most dangerous large cities for women.

Safest Cities for Women (Pop. Greater Than 500k)

The two largest cities in the United States (New York, NY and Los Angeles, CA) are both included in the list of the ten safest large cities. The average weighted crime score for these ten cities is 72.5.

RankOverall RankCityPopulation% WomenWeighted Crime Score
129Fresno, CA506,01150.623.1
244San Francisco, CA820,36349.330.1
347New York, NY8,289,41552.531.8
479Seattle, WA626,86550.447.9

5

96San Diego, CA1,338,47749.556.6

6

107Los Angeles, CA 3,855,12250.462.1

7

117Austin, TX 832,90149.367.3

8

127El Paso, TX675,53652.175.3

9

129Louisville, KY666,20052.775.6

10

136San Jose, CA976,45949.877.6

Most Dangerous Cities for Women (Pop. Greater Than 500k)

The most dangerous large cities all have populations below one million, with the exception of Philadelphia, PA. The cities are far-flung, spanning the country.

Rank

Overall RankCityPopulation% WomenWeighted Crime Score

1

280Oklahoma City, OK595,60750.7150.6

2

273Memphis, TN657,43652.3147.4

3

255Detroit, MI707,09652.9137.4

4

246Denver, CO628,54550132.7

5

243Nashville, TN620,88651.5130.4

6

241Albuquerque, NM553,68451.4130.1

7

239Philadelphia, PA1,538,95752.9129.8

8

230Indianapolis, IN838,65051.8126.0

9

228Fort Worth, TX770,10151.4124.8

10

227Baltimore, MD 625,47452.9124.6

Overall Crime vs. Crime Against Women

The ValuePenguin team of analysts also conducted a study of crime, using information about violent and property crimes from 2012 FBI crime statistics to rank cities in the United States with populations greater than 100,000.

Interestingly, many of the more crime-ridden cities have lower relative rates of violence against women. Conversely, many of the cities that fare better in general crime rankings have abysmal rankings for crime against women. This difference is reflected in the “Rank Difference from Total Crime” column. Negative numbers mean that the city is safer for women relative to the city's overall crime ranking for the general population. Positive numbers reflect the opposite. We also found that larger cities aren’t necessarily more dangerous for women. For example, Detroit, MI typically ranks as one of the least safe places in the United States. However, it did not make our ten most dangerous cities for women list out of the 285 cities we surveyed. Only when we filtered for cities with populations greater than 500,000 did it make the cut. This might have to do with the fact that the most notoriously dangerous cities like Detroit and Chicago have higher incidences of gang and street violence, which likely disproportionately affects men.

Safer Cities for Women Relative to Total Crime

The safest cities for women relative to total crime ended up being significantly larger on average than the most dangerous cities in comparison to total crime.

City

Population% WomenWomen’s Safety RankingTotal Crime Ranking

Miami, FL

414,32750.560267

Richmond, VA

207,79952.570255

Hartford, CT

125,20351.985268

Paterson, NJ

147,1485250229

Lafayette, LA

122,85251.435213

Newark, NJ

278,90650.281247

San Francisco, CA

820,36349.344211

Miami Gardens, FL

111,17749.852219

Worcester, MA

183,24752.859221

Fresno, CA

506,01150.628186

Atlanta, GA

437,04150.3125277

More Dangerous Cities for Women Relative to Total Crime

The most dangerous cities for women relative to total crime are all relatively small with higher rates of forcible rape, murder perpetrated against women by men, and stalking than rates of property and gender-neutral violence.

City

Population% WomenWomen’s Safety RankingTotal Crime Ranking

Denton, TX

118,94251.326878

Norman, OK

113,96949.723342

Elgin, IL

109,15550.422938

Aurora, CO

336,95250.723252

Centennial, CO

104,02250.619212

McKinney, TX

138,1055119425

Sioux Falls, SD

158,35450.2272110

Fargo, ND

109,81350.224886

Lincoln, NE

264,17549.9277127

Broken Arrow, OK

100,68850.717829

Best Cities for Women Relative to Total Crime - All Cities

Each point on the scatter plot below represents one of the 285 cities included in our two studies. The horizontal axis is the city's ranking (1-285) for women's safety and the vertical axis is the city's ranking (1-285) for overall crime. The general assumption would be that there is a correlation between crime against women and total crime overall, but the chart illustrates that there's very little correlation between the two. For instance, Miami has one of the highest rates of crime overall (ranking 267 out of 285 for total safety), but has a relatively low incidence of violence against women (ranking 60 out 285 for women's safety). Check out some of the other outliers below:

line graph

Additional Findings:

Three cities, Los Angeles, CA, Anaheim, CA, and Chula Vista, CA have the same ranking for crime against women and total crime. Most of our larger cities were on average safer for women than they were for general crime, which is most probably due to the gender breakdown of other more frequent types of crime.

  • Los Angeles, CA – pop. 3,855,122, 50.4% women, Women’s Safety Ranking & Total Crime Ranking = 107
  • Anaheim, CA – pop. 344,526, 49.8% women, Women’s Safety Ranking & Total Crime Ranking = 101
  • Chula Vista, CA – pop. 249,830, 51.7% women, Women’s Safety Ranking & Total Crime Ranking = 45

Bridgeport, CT has the highest forcible rape per capita in the country by a very wide margin (240 per 100k), ahead of Flint, MI (95.64 per 100k) and Minneapolis, MN (92.94 per 100k).

In case you couldn't find your city on the graph above, we've created a table sorted in alphabetical order of all the cities included in our study with their corresponding crime scores against women. To arrive at our rankings, we pulled data from three sources: {#full}

RankCityCrime Score

159

Abilene, TX89.3

267

Akron, OH145.1

241

Albuquerque, NM130.1

6

Alexandria, VA10.4

214

Allentown, PA116.3

242

Amarillo, TX130.3

11

Amherst Town, NY12.8

101

Anaheim, CA59.1

284

Anchorage, AK160.2

154

Ann Arbor, MI86.4

126

Antioch, CA74.1

177

Arlington, TX98.8

89

Arvada, CO52.7

209

Athens / Clarke County, GA114.2

125

Atlanta, GA72.7

232

Aurora, CO126.7

144

Aurora, IL80.4

117

Austin, TX67.3

58

Bakersfield, CA38.6

227

Baltimore, MD124.6

146

Baton Rouge, LA81.8

258

Beaumont, TX138.8

88

Bellevue, WA52.4

164

Berkeley, CA91.6

170

Billings, MT94.4

271

Birmingham, AL146.6

190

Boise, ID104.3

180

Boston, MA100.3

158

Boulder, CO88.7

275

Bridgeport, CT148

178

Broken Arrow, OK99.1

95

Brownsville, TX55.8

225

Buffalo, NY123.3

97

Burbank, CA57.1

65

Cambridge, MA40.8

31

Cape Coral, FL24.3

104

Carlsbad, CA60.1

13

Carrollton, TX14.8

23

Cary, NC20.3

152

Cedar Rapids, IA85.3

192

Centennial, CO104.7

137

Chandler, AZ77.7

77

Charleston, SC47.8

139

Charlotte / Mecklenburg, NC78.3

54

Chesapeake, VA35.4

217

Chicago, IL118.4

45

Chula Vista, CA30.6

251

Cincinnati, OH135.1

179

Clarksville, TN99.9

234

Clearwater, FL127.3

270

Cleveland, OH146.6

276

Colorado Springs, CO148.2

187

Columbia, MO102.9

71

Columbus, GA43.7

53

Concord, CA35.1

18

Coral Springs, FL18.3

29

Corona, CA23.6

247

Corpus Christi, TX132.8

134

Costa Mesa, CA77.1

195

Dallas, TX107.3

16

Daly City, CA17.1

183

Davenport, IA102.3

264

Dayton, OH142.6

268

Denton, TX146.3

246

Denver, CO132.7

211

Des Moines, IA114.8

255

Detroit, MI137.4

66

Downey, CA41.1

128

Durham, NC75.3

19

Edison Township, NJ18.8

100

El Cajon, CA58.6

36

El Monte, CA26.6

127

El Paso, TX75.3

229

Elgin, IL125.4

141

Elizabeth, NJ78.8

41

Elk Grove, CA29.1

254

Erie, PA136.8

113

Escondido, CA65.6

213

Eugene, OR116.2

220

Evansville, IN121

207

Everett, WA112.4

130

Fairfield, CA75.6

248

Fargo, NC133.5

172

Fayetteville, NC97.3

282

Flint, MI153.4

55

Fontana, CA36.1

147

Fort Collins, CO82.2

142

Fort Lauderdale, FL78.8

181

Fort Wayne, IN100.5

228

Fort Worth, TX124.8

12

Fremont, CA13.6

28

Fresno, CA23.1

17

Frisco, TX17.8

93

Fullerton, CA55.1

244

Gainesville, FL130.8

20

Garden Grove, CA19.6

87

Garland, TX52.3

38

Gilbert, AZ27.2

116

Glendale, AZ67.2

3

Glendale, CA8.6

133

Grand Prairie, TX76.3

110

Grand Rapids, MI64.9

188

Green Bay, WI104

119

Greensboro, NC69.3

149

Gresham, OR84.2

27

Hampton, VA22.9

85

Hartford, CT52

151

Hayward, CA84.6

112

Henderson, NV65.4

68

Hialeah, FL42.8

75

High Point, NC46.3

120

Hollywood, FL69.8

155

Houston, TX86.8

57

Huntington Beach, CA38.1

198

Huntsville, AL108.6

186

Independence, MO102.4

230

Indianapolis, IN126

105

Inglewood, CA61.1

4

Irvine, CA9.1

42

Irving, TX29.3

280

Jackson, MS151.6

200

Jacksonville, FL109.3

69

Jersey City, NJ42.8

73

Joliet, IL44.4

252

Kansas City, KS135.4

236

Kansas City, MO128.9

235

Kent, WA127.4

253

Killeen, TX136.3

278

Knoxville, TN148.9

35

Lafayette, LA26.3

261

Lakewood, CO139.7

166

Lancaster, CA92.1

278

Lansing, MI148.9

165

Laredo, TX91.8

210

Las Vegas Metro, NV114.4

168

Lexington, KY94.1

277

Lincoln, NE148.3

274

Little Rock, AR147.7

108

Long Beach, CA62.6

107

Los Angeles, CA62.1

129

Louisville Metro, KY75.6

157

Lowell, MA88.3

212

Lubbock, TX115.3

208

Madison, WI113.5

250

Manchester, NH134.6

8

McAllen, TX11.3

194

McKinney, TX106.8

273

Memphis, TN147.4

201

Mesa, AZ109.7

32

Mesquite, TX24.3

60

Miami, FL38.8

52

Miami Gardens, FL34.8

82

Midland, TX48.3

174

Milwaukee, WI97.5

269

Minneapolis, MN146.6

111

Miramar, FL65.3

76

Mobile, AL47.6

138

Modesto, CA78.1

86

Montgomery, AL52.1

40

Moreno Valley, CA28.6

240

Murfreesboro, TN129.9

14

Murrieta, CA15.1

1

Naperville, IL3.9

243

Nashville, TN130.4

197

New Haven, CT108.5

193

New Orleans, LA106.8

47

New York, NY31.8

81

Newark, NJ48.3

123

Newport News, VA70.9

145

Norfolk, VA81.4

233

Norman, OK127.1

265

North Charleston, SC143.3

171

North Las Vegas, NV95.4

34

Norwalk, CA26.1

262

Oakland, CA140.6

132

Oceanside, CA76.1

206

Odessa, TX112.3

279

Oklahoma City, OK150.6

156

Olathe, KS86.9

219

Omaha, NE119.8

91

Ontario, CA53.1

10

Orange, CA11.6

204

Orlando, FL111.8

109

Overland Park, KS63.9

5

Oxnard, CA9.6

74

Palm Bay, FL46.3

103

Palmdale, CA59.6

51

Pasadena, CA34.1

167

Pasadena, TX93.3

50

Paterson, NJ33.3

21

Pembroke Pines, FL19.8

72

Peoria, AZ43.7

78

Peoria, IL47.9

239

Philadelphia, PA129.8

196

Phoenix, AZ108.2

56

Pittsburgh, PA36.3

90

Plano, TX52.8

199

Pomona, CA109.1

176

Pompano Beach, FL98.3

135

Port St. Lucie, FL77.3

189

Portland, OR104.2

203

Providence, RI111.8

153

Provo, UT86.3

83

Pueblo, CO49.7

131

Raleigh, NC75.8

22

Rancho Cucamonga, CA20.1

62

Reno, NV39.5

63

Rialto, CA39.6

122

Richardson, TX70.8

163

Richmond, CA91.1

70

Richmond, VA42.9

106

Riverside, CA61.6

226

Rochester, NY123.8

259

Rockford, IL138.9

37

Roseville, CA27.1

150

Round Rock, TX84.3

118

Sacramento, CA68.1

115

Salem, OR66.7

121

Salinas, CA70.1

257

Salt Lake City, UT137.8

202

San Antonio, TX109.8

114

San Bernardino, CA66.6

96

San Diego, CA56.6

44

San Francisco, CA30.1

136

San Jose, CA77.6

61

Santa Ana, CA39.1

15

Santa Clara, CA16.6

64

Santa Clarita, CA40.1

84

Santa Maria, CA51.6

191

Santa Rosa, CA104.6

46

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan, GA30.7

94

Scottsdale, AZ55.2

79

Seattle, WA47.9

222

Shreveport, LA121.3

7

Simi Valley, CA10.6

272

Sioux Falls, SD146.9

237

South Bend, IN129.5

185

Spokane, WA102.4

245

Springfield, IL131.4

102

Springfield, MA59.3

281

Springfield, MO151.9

260

St. Louis, MO138.9

231

St. Paul, MN126.1

184

St. Petersburg, FL102.3

80

Stamford, CT48

49

Sterling Heights, MI32.4

143

Stockton, CA80.1

25

Sunnyvale, CA21.6

30

Surprise, AZ23.7

223

Syracuse, NY122.3

216

Tacoma, WA116.9

249

Tallahassee, FL134.3

43

Tampa, FL29.8

24

Temecula, CA21.1

140

Tempe, AZ78.7

218

Thornton, CO118.7

67

Thousand Oaks, CA42.1

238

Toledo, OH129.6

160

Topeka, KS89.4

33

Torrance, CA24.6

221

Tucson, AZ121.2

283

Tulsa, OK156.1

215

Tyler, TX116.8

175

Vallejo, CA98.1

205

Vancouver, WA111.9

92

Ventura, CA54.6

162

Victorville, CA90.1

39

Virginia Beach, VA27.4

169

Visalia, CA94.1

224

Waco, TX122.3

266

Warren, MI144.4

182

Washington, DC101.2

9

Waterbury, CT11.5

26

West Covina, CA22.6

99

West Jordan, UT57.8

148

West Palm Beach, FL83.3

263

West Valley, UT141.8

124

Westminster, CO71.7

256

Wichita, KS137.4

173

Wichita Falls, TX97.3

98

Wilmington, NC57.3

161

Winston-Salem, NC89.8

2

Woodbridge Township, NJ8.3

59

Worcester, MA38.8

48

Yonkers, NY32.3

Methodology

  • CDC figures estimating the likelihood that a woman will be a stalking victim at any time in her life by any perpetrator by state.
  • 2012 FBI comprehensive crime statistics, which breaks down the number of forcible rapes in each of the cities in our study for that year.
  • When Men Murder Women, a study conducted by the Violence Policy Center, which includes the number of women murdered by men in single victim/single offender homicides by state for 2011, the most updated information available.

We only included cities with populations greater than 100,000 and accounted for population by standardizing all of these figures per 100,000 people. We then ranked each city by each individual data point and weighted each ranking to arrive at an aggregate ranking. Forcible rape data and women murdered were weighted the most significantly due to their severity, with stalking weighted less significantly in calculating our overall crime score against women.

For the comparisons between crime against women and overall crime, we used the 2012 FBI Crime Statistic, which include violent crime and property crime. Violent crime is weighted at 90% and property crime is weighted at 10% in the aggregate score.

Comments and Questions