Women and Leadership: Women's History Month

March 21, 2016

Throughout history, women have played a vital role in shaping our culture. This month, we celebrate Women’s History Month by honoring their contributions and commitment to family, business and government. Margret Thatcher is quoted as saying, “If you want something said, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.”

It is easy to see that strong Oklahoma women are standing up and leading our state. But before discussing present women leaders in state government, I must honor a woman from our history that helped shape Oklahoma — the courageous and strong Clara Luper. She empowered and inspired a generation to end racial segregation through non-violent activism. She was a servant leader, and her efforts transformed our state.

Today in the state of Oklahoma, we currently have six female senators out of 48 and 15 female representatives out of 101. Our country offers great opportunities for women, but as we can see, women are underrepresented in our state legislature — keep in mind that women make up more than 50 percent of the electorate in Oklahoma. The role of women in public service is valuable because they bring a different perspective that affords them unique leadership qualities different from their male counterparts.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, there are many women in Oklahoma worthy of discussion and praise: starting with the first female governor of the State of Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin; State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister; Corporation Commissioner Dana Murphy; Labor Commissioner Melissa McLawhorn Houston; and state senators like AJ Griffin of Guthrie, Kim David of Wagoner, Anastasia Pittman of Oklahoma City and Stephanie Bice of Edmond, to name a few.

Governor Fallin has led the charge to protect our defenseless children through her work to improve and repair the system that left so many children at risk in DHS. She also has led a statewide campaign to promote foster care and adoption because every child deserves an opportunity to fulfill their maximum potential.

While we as a state have worked to improve the chances for children to be raised in loving families, we still have work to do to ensure that at-risk children have the opportunity to get a good education. Leaders in both chambers of the legislature have recognized the need for more varied and improved choices in education.

Our state has faced real challenges in the last few years, but the fact is that it is far too easy to focus on the issues and players at the Capitol and forget some of the real leaders who should be honored. Every day, women across our state work to raise families and to impart the Oklahoma Standard to a new generation. Whether these women are mothers raising children, running businesses or serving our state through public service, we should always honor the sacrifices and commitment that they demonstrate.