Oklahoma remains a national frontrunner of gender inequity

Collaborator: Brittany Harlow
Published: 05/09/2022, 5:56 PM
Edited: 05/09/2022, 6:25 PM

(TULSA, Okla.) A new study shows a long road to equity for Oklahoma women. 

Equality sounds a lot like equity, but there is a definite distinction. Equality means people are given equal resources or opportunities. Equity means people are given resources and opportunities based on their circumstances to reach an equal outcome. 

United WE, a nonprofit organization based in Kansas City, Missouri, partnered with Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business to produce the report, which identified lower pay, lack of access to affordable childcare, and many other challenges that hinder Oklahoma women from achieving their full potential.

United WE President and CEO Wendy Doyle said their organization has a long history of commissioning evidence-based research in nearby states.


“It is our collective responsibility to take this research, identify innovative solutions, educate elected officials and community leaders, and unite to advance and support policies that strengthen Oklahoma women and families for the economic development of the region,” Doyle said.

Areas of study were divided into Employment and Earnings, Childcare, Poverty and Social Insurance, and Civic Engagement. 

Key findings include:

Oklahoma’s gender earnings gap is one of the highest in the country.

Oklahoma women earned 74.5 cents for every dollar earned by a man between 2015 and 2019, compared to 80.8 cents per dollar for U.S. women.

The state had the second-highest number of uninsured women in the United States in 2022.

Child-related findings showed how hard it is for Oklahoma parents and mothers in particular, including:

The average cost of childcare in Oklahoma is more expensive than a year of in-state tuition at a four-year public college.

The typical married family with two incomes spends about 12% of their income on infant childcare compared to 40% for the typical single parent.

The percentage of Oklahoma children under the age of 18 without health insurance is increasing. 

The study also found the gender earnings gap is increasing in Oklahoma despite decreasing nationwide, and women in Oklahoma have a higher poverty rate than men and compared to women in the rest of the country. 

Despite the inequity, researchers found that women contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to the Oklahoma economy every day. 

Read the full report here.


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