Report says Oklahoma is worst state for women

A statewide report said Oklahoma ranks as the worst state for women in the U.S. in areas like employment, poverty, health care and childcare.

United WE, a Kansas City non-profit organization, commissioned researchers from the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University to survey women’s socioeconomic status in the state from 2015 to 2021.

The report said the gender pay gap is larger in Oklahoma than it is in the U.S. overall.

“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,” said the report. Between 2017 and 2019, this gap increased in Oklahoma but decreased for women in the U.S. overall. The report said if current trends continue, women will not reach pay equality with men in the state until 2076.

Women in the labor force is lower in Oklahoma than the national average for women. The report also mentioned despite women in Oklahoma having higher levels of education than men, they are more likely to choose jobs in lower-paying fields, like sales and office industries, education and food services, than women elsewhere in the U.S.

The poverty rate for women in Oklahoma between the ages of 25 and 64 is higher than the poverty rate for men in the state, and it’s increasing for women 65 and older. The report also said nearly four times as many single-mother households in Oklahoma received public food assistance compared to single-father households.

The report found the annual cost of childcare in the state in 2020 was $745 a month, and while a typical married couple spent about 12 percent of their combined income on childcare, a single parent spent 40 percent of their income on childcare. Additionally, the report said the annual cost of childcare in Oklahoma is greater than the cost of in-state tuition and fees at a public, four-year university in the state.

The report also found effects COVID-19 has had on women. Many Oklahoma women left the labor force during the pandemic because of the lack of access to childcare, the inability to pay for childcare or to take care of sick family members.

You can read the full report here.