Monday, July 31, 2017

Women and American Politics. Second Monday

These three posts are about the influence of gender on the 2016 elections.  This one tells how men and women voted, based on exit polls.  This one and this one analyze the impact of sexism (and racism) on the results.

The results of the 2016 elections did not change the total number of women in the Congress.  Women are still 19% of the Congress and over 50% of all Americans.   So while the Congress became somewhat more racially diverse it stayed put in terms of gender. 

But things could be even worse, of course, and they are inside the Republicans in the Congress:  Roughly ten percent of the Republican Senators and nine percent of the Republican Congresscritters are women.

Incidentally, the US News piece the last link goes to a somewhat unhelpful beginning statement:

But increased diversity in the new Congress is largely around the edges, with women and minorities each making up less than 20 percent of lawmakers.
I blame the concept of diversity for that, because it is essentially undefined.  If we use the concept of fair or proportional representation, then we would expect each minority group to be roughly represented at the same percentages that it commands in the overall US population*, and we would expect the same for women when viewed as a class.  

It doesn't make much sense to lump all minorities together in this context (though it can be useful in other contexts**), because we could have a situation where one minority is vastly under-represented and another vastly over-represented, but pooling all minorities into one group could disguise such developments.

It's also possible that some future Congress will have all minority ethnic and racial groups fairly represented, but mostly by men.  The tendency to lump all the different groups together and then tag them with the label of "diversity" is  really not terribly helpful.  I much prefer "fair representation" to "diversity."
* With the exception of very small demographic groups.  Some years such groups would be over-represented and some years under-represented, in a somewhat fairer world, so that the long-run average percentage would match the population percentages.

** In, say, analyses of white male percentages in the Congress.  But in many other cases lumping together all the people who don't fall under that label can hide important differences in the reasons for under-representation.