Jacob Axelrad, Christian Science Monitor, October 8, 2014
Americans may may consider the United States a melting pot, but the nation’s changing demographics are not yet reflected in elected offices, according to a new report released Wednesday from the Women Donors Network.
An examination of 42,000 elected officials, from the county to the congressional level, revealed that whites and men make up a disproportionate share at each level of government. While white men are 31 percent of the US population, they make up 65 percent of elected offices.
“These numbers are far starker than any of us expected,” says Brenda Choresi Carter, director of the Women Donor Network’s Reflective Democracy Campaign, who adds this is the most comprehensive study of its kind. “They are actually worse than I expected.”
The study found that women fill 29 percent of elected offices, despite being 51 percent of population. Some 10 percent of elected officials identify as people of color, though minorities make up more than one-third of the population.
That means that women have one third the political representation enjoyed by men. Minorities are equally underrepresented. By that measure, white men have eight times as much political power as women of color, the study found.
But the strongest catalyst for institutional change may be time, says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution.
“Change is coming,” he says. “And in the next 10 to 15 years there will be a huge number of minorities of voting age who will likely vote to put change in place.”