"Congress Looks Like a 1950s Country Club"—4 Women on Diversity in Politics

When Barack Obama was elected president of the United States in 2009, a wave of hope swept through the country. For the first time in history, people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and sexual orientations had concrete proof that the president of the United States didn't have to be a white male. American democracy had lived through 44 presidents—none of which were women and only one was black. It took 220 years.

Despite white men comprising roughly 30% of the population, they represent approximately 65% of elected officials, according to a recent study. Women consist of 50% of the population, but just 19% of Congress. Minorities make up almost 40% of the population, yet Congress is 81% white and 81% male.

This extends to more than just the U.S. Senate or House of Representatives. As Alaa Murabit, MD, told MyDomaine last year, it even spreads to the highest levels of the United Nations. The young Muslim woman, who is a high-level commissioner, was once mistaken for a support staffer after sitting down in her seat at the UN, which read "Dr. Murabit"—and she could see why: After looking around the room, it became clear that it was predominantly filled with white men.

As a result of this diversity gap, women and people of color often get treated as special-interest groups, when in reality, they are the majority. Imagine if Congress were 50% women and 40% people of color. Imagine if the issues that Americans face every day were addressed by a government that was representative of the American population as a whole, not just a lucky few. Imagine if every young girl could see herself as potentially becoming president of the United States one day, regardless of the color of her skin or her sexual orientation.

Photo: Courtesy of New American Leaders