For working moms in Oklahoma, there is good news and bad news.
First the good news, Oklahoma has some of the best day care systems in the nation and some of the safest schools, according to WalletHub.
The bad news:
Working moms in Oklahoma notably struggle with balancing work and home-life. Economics, professional opportunities and working environment all play a part, especially the opportunity or ability to work from home where quality broadband is a key.
With the pandemic lockdown and skyrocketing unemployment, Northwestern Oklahoma is struggling even more. As a matter of fact, U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas joined a bi-partisan delegation introducing a Universal Broadband Act Tuesday.
“Access to affordable high-speed internet is essential to prosper in the 21st century economy,” Lucas said. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a spotlight on the inequities our rural communities face due to lack of broadband.”
Working parents represent the backbone of a state economy, according to George Washington University Department of Management Professor Paul M. Swiercz Ph.D.
“One of the positive outcomes of corona is going to be the knowledge that workers require a lot less direct supervision than previously thought,” Swiercz said. “Responsible workers can actually be trusted to simultaneously do their jobs and take care of their families on a work schedule that creates a win-win outcome.”
Teaching the proverbial "old dog new tricks" may take more than a pandemic to get corporations to realize the benefits of employees who work from home.
Admittedly, WalletHub takes points off for things like commute distance and median salary, things many Oklahomans are willing to sacrifice for living in smaller, tighter-knit communities.
Swiercz suggests people stop trying to mentally compartmentalize work and life, pretending that they are actually separate. He instead developing policies and practices facilitating integration of work with life.
“Conventional careers actually ended with the 20th Century. Jobs have become too volatile to link them into a logical and plan-able sequence that we once called a career,” Swiercz explained. “Having a family life and a workplace life is demanding for everyone no matter what occupation they pursue. We still have occupations, but we longer have careers.”
Farm and ranch families in Northwest Oklahoma can relate to Swiercz’s thoughts. If the cows get out, the family and often neighbors pull together to get them in, no matter what time of the day or night.
For those working for businesses, corporations and organizations, state and local governments can support working mothers by helping provide affordable pre-school and sick-day policies, according to Swiercz.
“It is working parents and grandparents and siblings and dad, etc. that all need more sophisticated policies and programming,” Swiercz shared. “We know what we need, what is missing is the will to act and the resources to make it happen.”
According to Swiercz, there is a correlation between a state’s commitment to education and families, with the same values supporting learning and the support of working parents.