Representation of different populations in politics in other spheres of public life is increasingly important. It allows minority groups to express their opinions, address their needs in a safer environment, and feel more validated in the wider community. Representation of various groups in the United States Congress can illustrate the contemporary nature of the phenomenon and help explain why some populations tend to be underrepresented in the public sphere.
As of June 2021, the 117th United States Congress is the current meeting of the country’s legislative branch of the federal government. According to Schaeffer (2021), the current composition of the Congress is the most racially and ethnically diverse, with nearly a quarter of voting members identifying as non-White. Specifically, 124 members are Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Native American, showing a 97% increase in representation over two decades since the 107th Congress (Schaeffer, 2021). Similarly, 144, almost a third of the voting seats in Congress, are held by women, illustrating a 50% increase over a decade (Blazina & Desilver, 2021). The LGBTQ community is less represented, with only 11 LGBTQ members elected in the House of Representatives and the Senate (Avery, 2020). However, it is the record number of openly LGBTQ persons in Congress.
Representation is essential for modern democracies, as all groups and populations are entitled to their rights being protected. The current meeting of the Congress illustrates that the political representation is continuously being expanded to reflect the country’s diverse population. Furthermore, there is a drive in the media and among the voters who want to see more diversity in the public sphere. It can be argued that some groups tend to be marginalized in Congress as they experience a variety of obstacles in obtaining the political carrier. For example, fewer women engage in politics or are voted for due to the social expectation about their role in the family (Teele et al., 2018). The recent trend of women and minorities being represented in record numbers can be explained by the voters being more willing to support such candidates. As the rights of women and minorities continue to be violated in parts of the country and globally, voters believe that electing female and minority political figures into Congress will help address some disparities (Pepera, 2018). Overall, the contemporary trends show an increase in representation for women, racial, ethnic, and other minorities in the public sphere.
Although the marginalization of women and minorities is declining, additional steps can be taken to ensure that all groups are equally represented. It can be asserted that lack of diversity can have an adverse impact on policymaking and Congress’s business. Underrepresentation results in the needs of different groups not being addressed due to the lack of political voices that can speak for them. In addition, the homogeneous nature of the Congress in previous meetings led to the lack of varied opinions and few political standpoints being given attention. Equal representation of all groups in Congress is challenging to achieve due to the nature of political careers and life in the public sphere. There are fewer minority political figures that can be proposed for positions in the House of Representatives and the Senate than there are from the predominant majority. To address this inequality, barriers that prevent women and minorities from engaging in the public sphere and pursuing a carer in politics need to be identified and addressed.
In summary, the representation of different populations in groups in the public sphere in the United States endured significant improvements. In the current meeting of the Congress, there are more women, racial and ethnic minorities, and LGBTQ persons being active in the legislative process in the country than in other meetings in the last two decades. However, more measures can be taken to ensure equal representation of women and minorities in US politics.
Avery, D. (2020). Congress will have a record number of LGBTQ lawmakers next session. NBC News. Web.
Blazina, C., & Desilver, D. (2021). A record number of women are serving in the 117th Congress. Pew Research Center. Web.
Pepera, S. (2018). Why women in politics? Women Deliver. Web.
Schaeffer, K. (2021). Racial and ethnic diversity increases yet again with the 117th Congress. Pew Research Center. Web.
Teele, D. L., Kalla, J., & Rosenbluth, F. (2018). The ties that double-bind: Social roles and women’s underrepresentation in politics. American Political Science Review, 112(3), 525–541. Web.