Friday, January 23, 2009

Women and the Cabinet nominees (by Suzie)

           Some people analyze Obama’s Cabinet-level picks by ethnicity, with gender as an afterthought. They write as if every group should get the same-size slice of the pie. But they forget that women are not a minority of the population; we comprise 51 percent. 
           In 2006, non-Hispanic whites made up 68 percent of the population, followed by Latinos at 14.8; African-Americans at 12.4; and Asian-Americans at 4.4.
           Of the 20 people that Obama nominated, 11 are non-Hispanic white, or 55 percent; 4 are black, or 20 percent; 3 are Latinos, or 15 percent; and 2 are Asian-Americans, or 10 percent. This includes Bill Richardson, who declined the nomination for Commerce, making one less Latino. He has not yet been replaced.
           The trend in popular culture is to count Latinos as people of color, even though the U.S. Census holds to the idea that people of Hispanic heritage can be white or other races. If we boil down diversity to (non-Hispanic) white and non-white (counting Latinos), then non-whites are better represented in Cabinet-level jobs than whites. Of course, I don’t think this is a problem because whites have had better representation since the creation of our country.
           As far as I can tell, some ethnic groups, such as Native Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, have no representation. 
           Of the 20 people nominated, 5 are women, or 25 percent. That’s less than half of the percentage we represent in the general population. It’s a shame that figure doesn’t make the headlines, as opposed to all the stories congratulating Obama on his diverse Cabinet.
At least, the representation of women in Cabinet-level jobs is better than in Congress (17 percent) and among governors (15 percent).
          The New Agenda has a Cabinet Watch