Columbus, Ohio – According to a new research report that provides the first formal measurement of women in Ohio office, out of 17,412 elected offices at all levels of government in Ohio, just 29% of the positions are held by women. Sponsored by The Matriots PAC, the research includes a review of offices from school boards to village, city, county, and governor to create a more accurate picture of the number of women in political office. Prior to this report, female representation in office has never been formally accounted for by the Ohio Secretary of State.
Using data from the 2018-2019 term for local government and 2017-2018 for federal, state, county and judiciary, this study shows the highest proportional representations of women in Ohio office at the school board level with 37% of total positions held by women. This is a one percent increase over 2016-2017 terms for school board. However, this percentage consistently decreases the higher the level of government with just 22% representation at the state level and 16% at the federal level. It further highlights female representation in specific roles such as council member, sheriff, and fiscal officer, and throughout Ohio’s counties with Mercer at the lowest with 11%.
“It’s time we measure what matters. The Matriots’ long-term goal is to see 50% of all political offices in Ohio held by women, but it’s hard to achieve this if we don’t know what the current state looks like,” said Sally Crane Cox, Matriots board chair. “This research helps us better understand how much work is left to be done. Working toward equal-gender political representation benefits not just the 51% of the state’s population that is grossly underrepresented but will lead to more legislation and policies that support families and communities throughout Ohio.”
The list of officeholder names included in the study was gathered from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office. As gender information is not collected on Ohio’s voter registration forms, when gender was not readily available, it was estimated using names and a statistical computing software, GenderizeR, that predicts gender based on first names. The research allows for a 4% margin of error for each level of government.
“This research is exciting because not only does it finally give us a real picture of the numbers of women who are working hard to better our communities through the work they are doing at the school board, village, county, and state levels, it helps us prioritize our efforts, as an organization, around future outreach and elections,” said Elissa Schneider, Matriots political director. “At 29% representation, we’ve got some work to do, particularly when it comes to higher level offices.”