The U. S. Congress is supposed to be the body representing all members of the American society and the institution addressing the needs of all groups. However, this goal is not fully realized, and one of the reasons is the underrepresentation of some groups. It is noteworthy that the rate of women and minorities is steadily increasing, but the changes are rather slow. As for gender, approximately 50% of the senators and representatives are females, which is a considerable advancement, as there were only a few women in Congress before the 1990s (Greenberg & Page, 2020). The representation by race is characterized by even slower changes and a considerable disproportion. For instance, only approximately 18% of Congress population is Latinos, and slightly over 12% of seats in Congress are occupied by African Americans (Greenberg & Page, 2020). Thus, African Americans are still underrepresented compared with the demographics of modern American society. Representation disproportion in the U. S. Congress is associated with the cultural peculiarities of the country, but the changes do occur and can be facilitated.
The major reason for the current proportion of different groups in the Congress is cultural, as American society is still patriarchal. White men tend to hold the most power in the country, which is mainly accepted in society as people still vote for white males more often. This is rather a surprising fact as more women than men vote during elections (Sanbonmatsu, 2020). Another reason for the underrepresentation of some groups is the personal choices of people, as minorities face more obstacles when trying to operate in the political sphere and many people choose not to become or remain politicians (Sanbonmatsu, 2020). For instance, the career of a politician often requires a certain level of financial security, which is not always attainable for women or ethnic minorities.
As mentioned above, representation patterns are changing, but these shifts are quite slow. The primary cause of these changes is the cultural change in American society. The issues of equality are gaining momentum these days, and people try to find ways to ensure that their needs are met and they can exercise their rights fully. One of the most direct ways to attain this goal is to make sure that the representative of a specific group has a seat in the U. S. Congress. It has been found that politicians better advocate for certain groups’ rights when they share identities with them (Lowande et al., 2019). The fact that women and ethnic minorities are underrepresented supports this fact. Discrimination by gender and ethnicity is still rather persistent in many spheres of life, and proper legislation could minimize it.
Some people think that the situation cannot be changed dramatically, but they are rather wrong. Each voter can contribute to the improvement of life in the USA by choosing the right candidates and taking a more active part in the political life of their community and country. People should choose the politicians who may share identities with them to ensure that their voices will be heard. Citizens should also help their representatives by participating in their campaigns as well as advocating for some policies and changes.
In conclusion, the shift towards a more diverse Congress is apparent, but the changes are not as rapid as they could or should be. An increasing number of women, ethnic and sexual minorities enter the Congress, which is beneficial for American society. These people initiate and promote the development of policies and regulations that address the needs of specific groups. These new laws and regulations can be instrumental in creating a truly equal society.
Greenberg, E. S., & Page, B. I. (2020). The struggle for democracy, 2018 elections and updates edition (12th ed.). Prentice Hall.
Lowande, K., Ritchie, M., & Lauterbach, E. (2019). Descriptive and substantive representation in congress: Evidence from 80,000 congressional inquiries. American Journal of Political Science, 63(3), 644-659. Web.
Sanbonmatsu, K. (2020). Women’s underrepresentation in the U.S. Congress. Daedalus, 149(1), 40-55. Web.