What is the status of Ohio women in 2023?

Women and girls comprise half of Ohio’s population and hold most of the college degrees in the state, yet they are more likely to be in poverty than their male counterparts. Women make up more than half the electorate but are not equally represented in elected office. Women tend to live longer, and in Ohio, are remaining in their homes and communities at older ages than men.

Older women are close to twice as likely to be living alone as their male counterparts.

Older women are close to twice as likely to be living alone as their male counterparts, and women are much more likely to be caregivers of another adult. Many more female high school students are reporting problems with anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide, yet our public mental health service is treating more boys than girls.

These are just a few observations based on data we examined when compiling the 2023 Status of Women fact sheets.

Status of Women 2023 includes more than 160 data points from 13 official sources

To fully understand community conditions and identify areas of opportunity and sustainable solutions, we must examine the experience of various groups. Looking at the wellbeing of women and girls in Ohio’s counties was the brainchild of our former colleague, Melissa Federman. The first iteration was published in 2019, utilizing data as far back as 2015. The 2023 Status of Women fact sheets have updated not only the data points with the most current information, but we expanded the number of indicators to include information which was not publicly available at the last release. We doubled the length of the fact sheet, allowing the inclusion of more information on health insurance coverage, older women, and preventive health, as examples.

These new fact sheets pull from 13 data sources and include more than 160 separate data points.

These new fact sheets pull from 13 data sources and include more than 160 separate data points— presented in one place, carefully vetted by our team of research experts. An amazing team of women worked to produce this resource including Angela Maher, Dr. Suzanna Theise, and Madison Van Epps, with substantial support from Patti Carlyle, Emily Muttillo, and Tara Britton.

Many health indicators show progress, but work remains (especially maternal health)

Since the last release, several indicators have improved. Births to teen mothers fell precipitously in nearly every county, including some places where teen birth rate has been cut in half. The number of women who are uninsured remains low, lower than the national average, and 95 percent of women have health insurance coverage with an increasing share receiving public coverage. Today, over one-third of girls under age 18 are covered by Medicaid and more than 96 percent of women over age 65 have Medicare coverage.

Cervical cancer is less common than other cancers but is preventable with the HPV vaccine.

Cervical cancer is less common than other cancers but is preventable with the HPV vaccine. When detected early with the Pap test, these cancers can be treated successfully and cured. Based on the data used in the 2019 release, there were 60 counties where more than half of all cervical cancers were diagnosed at a late stage. Today, that has fallen to 53 counties, indicating that more women are receiving preventive screenings more regularly.

While reproductive rights are enshrined in Ohio’s constitution with the passage of Issue 1, women in 13 counties live in maternity care deserts and those in an additional 4 counties are considered to have low access to maternity care. One-fifth of Ohio counties have no or low maternity health care access and many women travel outside their home county to give birth.

Ohio women lead in many economic indicators

In the economic sphere, women’s labor force participation appears to have rebounded after a decline in the first year of the pandemic. High school graduation rates are higher. Women continue to have better educational attainment than men, and more Ohio women hold associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and graduate degrees. The gender wage gap is getting smaller in many counties, but there is no county where the average earnings of women working full-time are equal to that of men.

Source gaps not only impact analysis, but masks the challenges for Ohio women and girls

As we compiled these fact sheets, we became frustrated by a lack of reliable, timely data on important matters, and finding information broken down by sex or gender often proved difficult. For example, working parents across the state have shared their challenges in finding affordable childcare which fits their family’s needs. Yet we were unable to find a source of information to be able to quantify the issue county-by-county.

There is no reliable county-level source of information on intimate partner violence, and no county breakdowns of data on mental health of teens.

There is no reliable county-level source of information on intimate partner violence, and no county breakdowns of data on mental health of teens. Statewide indicators on these topics will be covered in upcoming publications. Community Solutions will continue to scour available sources, work with our partners in state government, and advocate for the collection and release of data broken down by race and ethnicity, sex and gender, and age.

Ohio Status of Women fact sheet coming, along with a webinar in January 2024

It is our hope that the information contained in the Status of Women fact sheets will generate conversations about how to improve the health, social, and economic status of people in communities across Ohio. We will be sharing directly with policymakers, funders, and community leaders. If you use our work, please drop us a line at info@communitysolutions.com to let us know whether it has been helpful.

A similar fact sheet with state-level data is coming soon, including some breakdowns by race and ethnicity not available at the county-level. In the new year, we will release a more detailed report looking at the Status of Girls with additional data focused on mental health and other indicators of wellbeing. In the meantime, join us for a webinar on Thursday, January 25 at 10:00 am where our research experts will walk through the data, discuss implications, and answer your questions.