As a state that ranks 28th in per capita personal income (with $36,899, just $3,000 below the national average of $39,750), you might think our numbers regarding child well-being recently reported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation would be higher than 44th. When you marry that statistic with the National Center for Women Policy Studies ranking that puts Oklahoma 46th in great places for women to live and work, you see a pattern. While we may not want to see the connection, our prosperity is tied to the way we treat Oklahoma women and girls. As former President Jimmy Carter wrote recently, "The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family. It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population.” Yet, here in Oklahoma, we struggle as a state with equity. Ultimately, it is both a human rights issue and an economic one. Part of the ranking from the Center for Women Policy Studies addresses the lack of women in management roles and women elected to public office. Carter points out that investing in women yields positive results, but allowing women access to positions of power also creates benefits for companies and communities. Recent economic studies bear this out. Pepperdine University found that Fortune 500 companies with the best records of putting women at the top were 18 percent to 69 percent more profitable than the median companies in their industries. Sixty-nine percent! It would be foolish not to consider having women either in the C-suite or on your company’s board with numbers like that. But it is not just this Pepperdine study. McKinsey looked at European countries and found that the companies with greater gender diversity in management had higher-than-average stock performance. Catalyst, a research firm, found that Fortune 500 companies with just three or more senior women managers scored higher on top measures of organizational excellence. Companies with three or more women on their boards outperformed their competition by 40 percent. Stuck in the bottom rung among 50 states for many issues regarding well-being for children and for women can be remedied if, as a state, we are willing to see the value in putting women in the corporate board room, executive offices and public office. In 2008, Oklahoma ranked 49th in the nation in the number of women elected to the Legislature. Giving women and girls an opportunity to stretch their leadership muscles in our state has great consequences for our prosperity. Isn’t it time you considered investing in girls and women in Oklahoma? Stackpole is CEO for Girl Scouts-Western Oklahoma.