Spears Business and United WE Unveil Status of Women Research in Oklahoma

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Media Contact: Terry Tush | Director, Marketing and Communications | 405-744-2703 | [email protected]

The Spears School of Business and United WE, a nonpartisan nonprofit, released a year-long study on Wednesday examining the economic status of women in Oklahoma and highlighting possible areas of action to economically empower women and their families.

The Oklahoma Status of Women Report shows that women in Oklahoma face challenges that prevent them from achieving their full economic impact.

Dr. Laura Ahlstrom, an assistant professor of economics at Oklahoma State University, was commissioned to lead the research by United WE, a nonpartisan nonprofit whose mission is to advance economic and civic leadership for all. the women. Research shows that the gender pay gap is larger in Oklahoma than in the United States as a whole. 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 American women. If current trends continue, women in Oklahoma will not see equal pay until 2076.

“Our research sheds light on the challenges and inequalities faced by women in Oklahoma while serving as a benchmark for tracking the advancement and progress of women in our state, Ahlstrom said. “The data confirms the importance of removing barriers and advocating for policies that support women, which ultimately makes families and communities healthier and economies stronger.”

Ahlstrom’s research also reveals that child care in Oklahoma is unaffordable for many families. The average cost of child care in Oklahoma is more expensive than a year of in-state schooling at a four-year public college. The typical Oklahoma married couple spends about 11.7% of their income on child care and 20.6% of their income on two children. Childcare is considered affordable if it costs 7% or less of family income.

“We are thrilled to partner with such a respected organization as United WE to explore the status of women in Oklahoma,” said Dr. Ken Eastman, Dean of Spears Business. “At Spears, we are committed to improving opportunities for women and all Oklahomans, and Dr. Ahlstrom’s research provides valuable insight into areas in need of improvement.”

Spears Business and the Ash Grove Charitable Foundation, the philanthropic foundation of one of the largest cement companies in the United States that serves several areas of Oklahoma, funded the research project. The results highlight possible areas of action to help economically empower women and their families. Search results include the following:

Employment and Earnings

  • The gender pay gap in Oklahoma is one of the highest in the country. Women in Oklahoma effectively stop being paid on September 24 compared to October 29 for women across the United States.
  • If equal pay were a reality in Oklahoma, the poverty rate for working women would be reduced by almost 50% and women’s incomes would increase by about $5.4 billion a year.
  • If women in the state took a day off work, Oklahoma’s GDP would lose $222.4 million.


  • The annual cost of child care for a baby in Oklahoma in 2020 was $8,940, or $745 per month. The typical two-earner married family spends about 12% of their income on childcare, compared to 40% for the typical single parent.
  • The annual cost of infant care in Oklahoma is more than the cost of in-state tuition at a four-year public university in the state.

Health care

  • In 2019, Oklahoma was only one of two states where the uninsured rate was above 14% compared to the US national average of 9.2%. The state had the second highest number of uninsured women in the United States in 2022.
  • Lower percentages of Oklahoma men and women are enrolled in Medicaid compared to their US counterparts. In the United States, about 21% of women are enrolled in Medicaid, compared to 18-19% of women in Oklahoma.

Poverty and social insurance

  • Oklahoma women between the ages of 25 and 64 have a higher poverty rate than Oklahoma men as well as women in the United States as a whole.
  • Among women aged 65 and older, the share of poor women in Oklahoma is lower than that of women in the United States as a whole.

civic engagement

  • About one-fifth of Oklahoma lawmakers were women in 2021, a lower share than the US average.
  • Oklahoma women vote more than Oklahoma men, but voter turnout rates are lower in Oklahoma for both genders than for both men and women in the United States as a whole.

“We have a long history of commissioning research in neighboring states, so we are excited to expand our efforts to Oklahoma to better understand the challenges that prevent women in our region from reaching their full economic potential,” said Wendy Doyle. , President and CEO of United WE. “It is our collective responsibility to conduct this research, identify innovative solutions, educate elected officials and community leaders, and unite to advance and support policies that strengthen women and families in Oklahoma. for the economic development of our region.

A copy of the Status of Women in Oklahoma report is available on the United WE website: https://united-we.org/status-of-women-in-ok.

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