Oklahoma ranks last on women appointees

Monday, December 20th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- A survey indicates that Oklahoma has the lowest percentage of the 50 states in women appointed to top public policy positions. A survey by the Center for Women ranks Oklahoma last. The center is affliated with the University of Albany in New York.

Of 28 appointed positions taken into consideration in the survey, only three are held by women. The center said only 10.7percent of Keating's public policy appointees are women while women represent 51.3 percent of the state's population. But Keating spokesman John Cox said the survey doesn't consider other positions that the governor feels are policy positions. Cox said women make up 30 percent of the more than 2,000 appointments Keating has made as governor since 1995. "That study, we believe, is not objective and did not consider policymaking positions in our internal staff," Cox said.

The center defined policy leaders as head of departments, agencies, offices, boards commissions and authorities. The center counts what it terms top advisers in the governor's office, which include the chief of staff, government liaison, legal adviser and the press secretary. But Cox said the center failed to consider the governor's appointment of Denise Bode to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

Duchess Bartmess, the governor's general counsel, was counted. Cox said Keating feels the center should have counted his appointments director, scheduling director and the chief of staff of the first lady. Of policy leader appointees counted, 20 are white males, three are white women, three are American Indians and two are black.

The survey ranked Oklahoma 12th nationally in the number of top policy posts occupied by black appointees compared to the portion of blacks in the overall population. The ranking was higher than any surrounding state except Kansas, according to the survey. Blacks make up 7.4 percent of the state's population but hold 7.1 percent of top policy posts. Two positions in the survey are held by the same black man: Oscar Jackson is both administrator of the state Office of Personnel Management and the cabinet secretary of human resources