‘Shallow representation is not enough’: record number of women expected to serve in Biden’s cabinet


Twelve of the 25 cabinet-level or cabinet-level positions in the Biden administration will be held by women, assuming they are confirmed, beating former President Bill Clinton’s second-term record of nine women serving at the same time. Biden’s cabinet will also include eight women of color.

One of the promises of the Biden-Harris ticket in the election campaign was to create an administration that reflected America’s total diversity, said Kelly Dittmar, director of research and academics at CAWP. The fact that this cabinet is more racially and gender diverse than ever, he said, “is proof that they have kept that promise.” “Certainly there will still be criticism that it is not diverse enough, or there are still missing perspectives and experiences among these 25 people,” Dittmar told MarketWatch. “But they have come a long way to bring in people who bring lived experiences that are different from many of the people who have held cabinet positions throughout history, including the previous administration.” Six women simultaneously held cabinet-level or cabinet-level positions during the term of former President Donald Trump, according to the CAWP tally. Of the total of 55 women appointed to the presidential cabinets, Democratic presidents appointed 32 and Republican presidents appointed 23. Vice President Kamala Harris, the first woman, the first black person, and the first South Asian American to hold office , was sworn in shortly before noon. Wednesday. On Wednesday, the Senate also confirmed the director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, the first woman to oversee the US intelligence community. Still to be confirmed are Ohio Representative Marcia Fudge as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of Energy, Small Business Advocate Isabel Guzman as Small Business Administration Administrator, Nuevo Mexico Deb Haaland as Secretary of the Interior, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as Secretary of Commerce, Labor Economist Cecilia Rouse as President of the Council of Economic Advisers and Business Attorney Katherine Tai as United States Trade Representative. The executive director of the Center for American Progress, Neera Tanden, is also awaiting confirmation as director of the Office of Management and Budget, as is veteran foreign service Linda Thomas-Greenfield as ambassador to the United Nations and former president of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen as Secretary of the Treasury. It is symbolically important for the country to see women and women of color at the highest levels of leadership and decision-making, Dittmar said, as they challenge stereotypes about “who is the fittest and most appropriate to hold political power.” . However, on a more substantive level, these women will also bring a diversity of perspectives and lived experiences to the policy-making tables they lead, she added. “As you would in any institution, change the conversation; Hopefully it will help avoid some blind spots in policy formulation and priorities, ”he said. “At the end of the day, if there is a completely diverse table, then the decisions and policy outcomes that flow from them should be better and they should better serve a diverse group.” Some critics have argued that better representation in the cabinet of women and people of color does not necessarily translate into greater equality.

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“’Nobody asks you to vote or support women just because they are women. But we believe that the diversity of gender perspectives and racial perspectives at any table will enrich the conversation. ” ”- Kelly Dittmar, Associate Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University

In a Teen Vogue opinion column, for example, writer Lily Herman argued in December against a focus on “superficial representation.” He pointed to Haines’ previous role in the Obama-era drone strike program, as well as the possible job of Homeland Security candidate Alejandro Mayorkas heading a department with “deep-seated historical problems.” “Considering that Biden would not be in office if it weren’t for Black, Indigenous and Latinx voters, as well as capturing the majority of the electorate among women, youth, and low- and middle-income voters, it is crucial to keep the feet of his transition team on fire and hear what those constituents want from his term as president, ”Herman added. “If the barely existing attempts at diversity by the Trump administration have shown us anything, it is that superficial representation is not enough if it is not combined with strong ideals and actions.” (A transitional spokesperson for Biden did not immediately respond to a request for comment on these criticisms. Haines’s advocates say she “helped establish safeguards on the use of force and greater transparency for the drone program.” , reports the New York Times.) It’s important not to confuse ideology or political positions with gender or race, Dittmar said. Highlighting the importance of representation and identity, he added, does not mean that identities such as race and gender are the only perspectives that individuals bring. “We know that not all women have the same ideological or political points of view and, in the same way, not all Latinos have the same position on immigration,” she said. “When we think of representation from an individual level, we are recognizing that they bring with them multiple, overlapping, and intersecting identities.” That means factors like educational and professional background, as well as race and gender, are parts of the puzzle in informing how someone approaches policies and prioritizes issues, Dittmar said. “But the reason we often focus on race and gender,” he said, “is because of the particular historical marginalization or exclusion of particular race and gender experiences and perspectives lived from these high-level positions.” “Nobody asks you to vote or support women just because they are women,” added Dittmar. “But we believe that the diversity of gender perspectives and racial perspectives at any table will enrich the conversation.”