The government should reflect the people it serves, right? While that sounds ideal, it is not the reality when you look at the representation we have in American politics. Nearly 50 percent of Americans are female; 13 percent are black, 17 percent are Hispanic or Latino, and five percent are Asian. “Yet when you take a look at the leaders of the nation — the politicians who, representing the electorate, influence public policy and make the decisions that impact every American’s life — you’ll find that they are predominantly white and overwhelmingly male,” reports The Huffington Post.
Only eight percent of Congress is African American and there are also only two Congresswomen for every eight male representatives.
According to an infographic by Lee & Low Books, these statistics highlight the huge diversity gap that remains in American politics. The Supreme Court, for example, is 78 percent white and 66 percent male. Only 10 percent of state governors are people of color; only 10 percent are women.
The infographic is actually part of Lee & Low Books’ “Diversity Gap” study series. Lee & Low Books is an independent children’s book publisher that specializes in diversity and has previously released infographics about the diversity gap in the Emmy Awards, the Tony Awards and the children’s book industry.
“The Diversity Gap studies show a distinct, societal problem that pervades entertainment, media and even our government,” a spokesman for the company told The Huffington Post. “The problems of representation, inequality, and social justice all stem from not having a seat at the proverbial table. But there are a lot of people who just don’t think there’s a problem — and you have to admit that there is a problem before you can attempt to fix it. While some would argue that we live in a ‘post racial society’ and discussions concerning race are past tense, why do the numbers look like they do?”
Why is there such a lack of diversity in politics? According to a post on Lee & Low’s blog, gerrymandering (the practice that tried establish a political advantage for a particular party or group by manipulating district boundaries), discriminatory voter ID laws, low voter turnout, campaign finance rules that favor corporations and the rich, add to this racism and sexism, and these are some of the major driving forces behind the government’s lack of diversity.
“Inequality in the representation of women and people of color is an entrenched societal problem,” the blog states. “The million dollar question is: Do US leaders and citizens have the will to make the necessary changes to fix government and make it an apparatus that works for all people and not just a chosen few?”
Another step we can all take is voting. Are you registered? Here’s a link for info.
Image via Lee & Low Books infographic