Women are underrepresented in Columbus' statues
Women leaders across Ohio are planning for a monument to women's suffrage and equality to be installed on the Statehouse grounds in 2026.
Why it matters: This would be the first Capitol Square monument dedicated to real American women and their accomplishments.
- Most local public statues depicting women are mythological or abstract — such as "Peace," a winged figure on the square's north side.
- Nationwide, just 6% of monuments depict actual women of history, per a 2021 report.
The latest: A bipartisan commission is expected to select an artist in the coming weeks, state Sen. Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) tells Axios.
- After that, fundraising will ramp up and the artist and commission will decide what and who the artwork will portray.
What they're saying: Kunze, who chairs the commission, was inspired to pursue the project by encountering school groups who tour the Statehouse, many from her district and throughout Central Ohio.
- "If you can't see it, it's really hard to be it," Kunze says. "It's important for all of Ohio's children to see women playing a part in government."
Flashback: The local effort started in 2020 with a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote.
- A suffragist monument debuted in New York's Central Park the same year, increasing awareness about the lack of diversity in sculptures nationwide.
The big picture: In honor of Women's History Month, Axios' Chelsea Brasted looked into whether that has led to actual change — and found that progress is slow going.
Between the lines: Monuments have historically represented our values by putting concepts and people on literal pedestals, then enshrining them with protective status and decades-long upkeep.
- But public art in the U.S. has long presented a lopsided view that American history is nearly all horses and white male military veterans.
Of note: Columbus' only public statue depicting a woman is inside John Glenn International Airport, WOSU reported in 2020. It honors Geraldine "Jerrie" Mock, the first woman to fly solo around the world, a 29-day trip departing from Columbus in 1964.
- Mock, born in Newark, was one of Ohio State's first women aeronautical engineering students.
📬 We want to know: Which Ohio women would you like to see honored with a monument? Where would you put it and what would it look like? Email [email protected] and give us a history lesson.
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