News that Oklahoma's first female governor has replaced some female appointees with men could trigger the usual glass ceiling alert. More telling than what Mary Fallin has done in her first six months in office is what she will have done after three years.
Fallin's 2010 Democratic opponent, Jari Askins, might have named more women than Fallin to appointive positions. But the people wanted Fallin. Will the old lament about the scarcity of females in elective office find a new megaphone in this latest news, briefly shattering the relative calm of state government in a hot summer? Scoring political points is never out of season.
The state could have more women in elective office if more women ran. Fallin could have named more women to appointive offices if more women applied. This is a point made by Sheryl Lovelady, director of the Women's Leadership Initiative at the University of Oklahoma. Lovelady (gotta like that name for an editorial on this topic!) said applications from men far outnumber those from women.
Not only does Oklahoma have its first woman governor, it could have had a female governor and lieutenant governor if Askins hadn't sought the higher office. The state schools superintendent is female, as is one of the three corporation commissioners. Voters replaced a female insurance commissioner with a man — just as they replaced the last female labor commissioner with a male.
A better representation of women in state government requires greater female participation in the sometimes messy political process.