Our Research & Advocacy

The Region’s Expert on the Status of Women’s Economic Self-Sufficiency

To speed the pace of change for gender equity, we need have a deep understanding of the data and illuminate the obstacles and opportunities through research. Our research informs and drives systemic policy change for women in our region and helps elected officials design legislation that effectively addresses issues of employment, living wage, child care, and education and training for working women. Our work is non-partisan and grounded in evidence and data.

We believe equitable policies build equitable communities.

Reproductive Health Access Project

After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, we asked, “How does restricting access to reproductive health care impact economic self-sufficiency?” In this analysis, we consider the financial impact for both individual women and the state of Ohio. This collection of resources provides a variety of formats of our research, including a full report, key findings brief, a webinar recording explaining our findings, policy implications, and more.  

Read the concise report "The Economic Impacts of Restricted Abortion Access in Ohio"

Read the full white-page report, with complete literature review and methodology

Read our key findings & brief summary

Black Women's Economic Mobility Project

Race and gender combine in powerful ways that contribute to economic barriers and opportunities. The Women’s Fund is taking a deep dive to understand Black women's economic mobility in our region. This project consists of three research papers meant to build on one another to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that fuel and hinder economic mobility for Black women, as well as identify specific policy recommendations.
This series is comprised of: a literature review of the historical context of labor trends and systemic barriers to Black women’s employment; a quantitative analysis to understand Black women in the workforce, their economic mobility status and the impact of economic downturns; and a qualitative study to determine the factors fostering or deterring Black women’s economic mobility.

Read our first phase: Analysis of Black Women's Historical Labor Trends and Systemic Barriers to Economic Mobility 

Read our second phase: Realizing the Potential of an Equitable Economy: Centering Black Women’s Upward Mobility in the Cincinnati Region

Read our third phase: The Influence of Gendered Racism and Understanding Economic Fragility for Black Women in the Cincinnati Region 

Cliff Effect

The Cliff Effect is a threshold where a family or individual becomes ineligible for public benefits due to a small raise or promotion, causing their total gross resources to decline. It creates a disincentive for individuals to transition off public benefits and negates the primary objective of these programs— to help lift people out of poverty. Many people who experience the Cliff Effect comment, “I’m working harder and harder, but never seem to get ahead.” The journey to self-sufficiency is a long and complicated one that makes a family economically fragile. Even small financial gains have a potentially negative consequence.

The Women’s Fund began studying the Cliff Effect in 2012 and has produced four research reports diving deeper into this topic. It is also a key focus of our advocacy efforts. The Cliff Effect is a complex issue, involving dozens of government programs at the local, state and federal levels. While there is no easy answer, the Women’s Fund works hard to educate and collaborate with elected officials, business leaders and community partners to understand and identify critical solutions. 

Read more about our CLIFF EFFECT RESEARCH


Pay Equity

In 2017, we commissioned a study by the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati to examine pay disparities in our region. 

In March 2019, Cincinnati City Council passed a law prohibiting employers in the City of Cincinnati from asking job applicants about salary or wage history, preventing historic gender and racial disparities from following an employee from one job to the next job.

The Women’s Fund was a key partner in the passage of this legislation in the city of Cincinnati, providing research and context outlining its benefits.

Read our one-pager to learn about the IMPACT OF THE SALARY HISTORY BAN

Read more about our support for THE SALARY HISTORY BAN

Read more about our PAY EQUITY RESEARCH


Read our new one-pager about PAY TRANSPARENCY



Our Advocacy

All advocacy efforts advanced by the Women’s Fund are non-partisan, grounded in evidence and data, conducted with respect and civility for all and advance the cause of women’s economic self-sufficiency. Because we know that the importance of women’s self-sufficiency is not a red issue or a blue issue; it’s a purple issue—one that should be a community imperative.


Our Policy Priorities

The issues most critical to us are those impacting women’s economic self-sufficiency. So many issues fall into this category, and we have learned over the years that the more we focus, the more effective we are. We concentrate on issues involving employment, wages, education and training, and child care. We currently prioritize the following issues in our advocacy efforts.

  • Cliff Effect and Public Benefits Reform… because our benefit system should support a pathway to self-sufficiency for individuals experiencing economic hardship
  • Affordable, Accessible Child Care and Paid Leave…. because like roads, bridges and the internet, this is basic infrastructure to support workers in our economy
  • Ensuring a Living Wage by Reducing Occupational Segregation and Increasing the Minimum Wage… because full-time work should be sufficient to support your basic needs
  • Pay Equity… because an employee’s race or gender should have no impact on their paycheck
  • Applying a Gender and Racial Lens on Public Policy… because “neutral” is not enough. Our systems demand intentional policy-making to achieve a more equitable society.

Want to Learn More?

Invite us to speak: Our team is available to speak on any of our advocacy or research initiatives! Contact us via email at womensfund@gcfdn.org

Gain access to our research library: Our team collects national and regional research on economic self-sufficiency! Contact Applied Research Director Dr. Travis Speice at travis.speice@gcfdn.org

Advocating with us: Contact Advocacy Director Holly Hankinson at holly.hankinson@gcfdn.org

Our Research Studies