Okla. Governor Candidates Debate Marital Status, Parenting Experience

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Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice are other recent examples of prominent women in public service who are not married and do not have children. Delaware Republican U.S. Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell has also never been married.

But several successful female politicians have juggled both motherhood and their responsibilities for office. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, for example, has two young children and gave birth to her youngest in 2008. Former Kansas governor and current Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raised two sons while holding state office.

"We have wonderful examples of women in this country who have served not just in Oklahoma, but across the United States, who have been mothers and those, like Condoleeza Rice and others, who have not been able to claim that," Askins said. "So it's not an issue."

Still, in Oklahoma, conservative values, including the role of women in marrying and raising a family, remain popular, Sierra said.

The Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University ranks Oklahoma 49th among the 50 states for percentage of women in the state legislature, with just 17 women out of 149 members. Only South Carolina ranks lower.

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