Mar 8, 2022 - Politics

Gender gap evident in most Ohio political offices

Note: This chart does not include one independent that served in the Ohio General Assembly in 1995-96. Data: Center for American Women and Politics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Fifty Ohio women held held state and federal elected offices in 2021, the most of any year in state history.

Yes, but: Those 50 women still made up less than one-third of federal and state level offices in the Buckeye State, an Axios Columbus analysis shows.

  • The evident gender disparity in nearly all areas of Ohio government is amplified with March being Women's History Month.

State of play: Women currently hold 31% of total seats in the Ohio General Assembly: 33 of 99 in the House and eight of 33 in the Senate.

  • That's the highest percentage in 219 years of state legislative history, per data compiled by the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.
  • Only five of 17 Statehouse leadership positions are held by women, including just one of nine spots controlled by Republicans.

Between the lines: This puts Ohio middle of the pack in terms of gender representation among the 50 state legislatures.

In Congress, just three of Ohio's 18 members are women: Reps. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus), Shontel Brown (D-Cleveland) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo).

Likewise, each of Ohio's six statewide executive offices are currently held by men.

  • Ohioans have never elected a female governor, though Lt. Gov. Nancy Hollister once served 12 days in the role when Gov. George Voinovich resigned to become a senator.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court is one branch of state government with more women than men in elected positions. A majority of the court's seven justices are women, including Chief Justice Maureen O'Connor.

The other side: Ohio's political gender gap is even further tilted among certain county offices like sheriff and engineer.

What to watch: Our state's gradual progress could see a boost with this year's election.

  • Candidates this cycle include former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley in the governor's race, along with former Ohio GOP chair Jane Timken and activists Morgan Harper and Traci Johnson in the U.S. Senate race.
  • Around a dozen women are running for congress, though these races are still fluid with district boundaries not yet settled.

The intrigue: Timken made a not-so-subtle reference to her status as the only woman in the crowded Republican primary in a recent advertisement.

  • "We all know guys who overcompensate for their inadequacies, and that description fits the guys in the Senate race to a T," she said in a February campaign spot. "Well, I'm different."
U.S. Senate candidate Jane Timken speaks at a microphone while current Senator Rob Portman looks on.
Jane Timken, U.S. Republican Senate candidate for Ohio, speaks during a campaign event in Columbus on March 4 while current Sen. Rob Portman looks on. Photo: Gaelen Morse/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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