In 1962, President John F. Kennedy created the President’s Council on the Status of Women with Eleanor Roosevelt as its first chairman. The report issued by that council encouraged each state to create a similar organization to look at current legal status, potential problems of gender bias and key quality of life issues facing women and families.
Gov. Henry Bellmon established the first Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women during his first term in 1965. Each governor thereafter established either a committee or a commission by executive order and appointed a group of individuals to serve. By choice of each governor, the commission ranged from 20 to 90 members.
Gov. George Nigh established the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame in 1982, as part of the responsibilities of the Governor’s Commission on the Status of Women. In 1994, through the efforts of Speaker of the House Glen Johnson, Senate President Pro Tempore Bob Cullison, Sen. Angela Monson, Rep. Laura Boyd, and a dedicated group of women, legislation creating the Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women passed and was signed by Gov. David Walters. The appointments are now made by the Governor, Senate President Pro Tempore, and Speaker of the House and consist of 30 members appointed for five-year terms. The initial appointment terms were staggered. By statue, the terms end on June 30 of each year.
Commission Projects and Partnerships
Oklahoma Women’s County Status: Baseline Statistical Report, 2010
The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women voted to make the Oklahoma Women’s County Status Report a Commission project at their January, 2009 meeting. The goal is to make available a data resource for describing the status of women in Oklahoma’s 77 counties. Oklahoma State University students enrolled in Women & Politics during the Spring, 2009 semester located and organized the data under the supervision of Commissioners R. Darcy and Jennifer Paustenbaugh with Lindsay Martin-Bilbry. Students enrolled in Women & Politics during the Spring, 2010 semester developed narrative material. Andrew Potter, a student enrolled in Elementary Statistics for the Social Sciences in Spring 2010, used ARCview to create maps to correspond to each table. R. Darcy added several sections of tables.
SIS - Solutions, Initiatives, Strategies to reduce the incarceration of Oklahoma Women, 2010
Oklahoma continues to be ranked as the state with the HIGHEST female incarceration rates in the U.S. The Oklahoma Commission on the Status of Women has voted to make this topic their primary issue area for the FY'10 year. This issue of female incarceration rates in Oklahoma was the topic for the 2010 Oklahoma Women's Summit. This project won the 2010 Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Association of Commissions for Women.
Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project
Partnering with the Oklahoma Oral History Research Program at the OSU Library and the Women's Archives at OSU, the Commission has been able to provide the funds to print and distribute to schools and libraries a poster featuring the 77 women who were elected to serve in the Oklahoma Legislature during its first 101 years. As of February 2009, 46 of these remarkable women have shared their stories as part of the Women of the Oklahoma Legislature Oral History Project. Taken individually, these interviews reflect the careers and interests of the legislators; taken collectively they constitute a narrative of the role of women in the Oklahoma Legislature over time. Lesson plans for grades 4-6 and 7-9 have also been developed to help teachers and home school families effectively incorporate the interviews into Oklahoma history classes.
The Oklahoma Women's Almanac
Winner of the 2006 Outstanding Achievement Award by the National Association of Commissions for Women, this 564-page book is the first ever almanac to focus exclusively on the women of Oklahoma. Indeed, it is the first for any state. The book consists of five article-length chapters on policy issues with a current, major impact on Oklahoma women. Additionally, there are shorter issues sections followed by relevant statistical tables. Other sections of the book include Oklahoma girls’ high school athletic records, brief biographies and photographs of distinguished Oklahoma women, and brief write-ups and photographs of women who have been inducted into Oklahoma’s halls of fame.