Posted on January 13, 2017

Trump’s Cabinet So Far Is More White and Male Than Any First Cabinet Since Reagan’s

Jasmine C. Lee, NY Times, January 13, 2017

President-elect Donald J. Trump’s cabinet is shaping up to have a smaller percentage of women and nonwhites than the first cabinets of Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George Bush.

If Mr. Trump’s nominees are confirmed, women and nonwhites will hold five of 21 cabinet or cabinet-level positions. He has not yet named nominees for two additional positions.

“Donald Trump is rolling back the clock on diversity in the cabinet,” said Paul Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.

Those five members will also be in some of the lowest-ranking positions. None of them are in the so-called inner cabinet, the four positions in place since George Washington’s presidency: the attorney general and the secretaries of state, Treasury and defense (formerly called the secretary of war).


Historically, white women were named to inner-cabinet positions before nonwhite men and women. Madeleine K. Albright served as secretary of state during Bill Clinton’s second term, and Janet Reno served as attorney general during both of his terms.

The first black person to run the State Department was Colin L. Powell in 2001. Eric H. Holder Jr., nominated by President Obama in 2009, was the first black attorney general.

“Secretary of Treasury and secretary of defense have never been a woman or a person of color,” said Anne O’Connell, professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley. Mr. Trump’s choices continue that pattern.

The few women and minorities in his cabinet occupy lower-ranking positions.

▪ Elaine L. Chao, who was selected to lead the Transportation Department, is from Taiwan. She previously served as secretary of labor during both terms of George W. Bush’s presidency.

▪ Betsy DeVos was chosen as secretary of education.

▪ Nikki R. Haley, who is of Indian heritage, is Mr. Trump’s pick for ambassador to the United Nations. She is currently the governor of South Carolina.

▪ Linda McMahon was chosen to run the Small Business Administration. She is the former chief executive of World Wrestling Entertainment.

▪ Every man in Mr. Trump’s proposed cabinet is white, except for Ben Carson, who is black. He was chosen to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


During his first presidential campaign, Mr. Clinton said he would have a cabinet that “looks like America.”