White Males Still Vastly Overrepresented at Top of Federal Hierarchy

Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog.


African American Political Pundit has been sounding the alarm that one Black man in the Oval Office does not diversity make. AAPP's Change Watch: Minority Advocates Watching Obama That point is underscored by a new report by the Government Accountability Office, showing that Blacks and women are still woefully underrepresented among the highest level of civil servants managing the government, and this will not change unless the Obama Administration makes a conscious decision to address rather than exacerbate the inequities.

For example, only 8.5 percent of high level executives were Black, although the nation is 12.8% Black; and only 3.6 percent of the high level executives are Latino, even though Latinos make up 14.8% of the United States.

Meanwhile, white men constitute 60.7 percent of the highest level civil servants, even though they constitute less than thirty percent of the population.  In other words, white men are 100% overrepresented in the highest level civil service jobs.

Some people are going to insist, as a defense of the current demographics, that these jobs should be given out based on merit rather than based on gender, skin color or ethnicity.  While each job should be given to the person most capable of doing the job, the "best candidate" argument assumes that white men are the best candidate twice as often as they are present in the general population.   It's more likely that white men are 100% overrepresented as a result of historic patterns of old-boy networks, the "white male supremacy syndrome".

I define "white male supremacy":  as "the belief that white males, no matter how much and how often they fail, are still, by virtue of their male gender and white skin, inherently more qualified than blacks and women who succeed." -- Francis L. Holland, December 13, 2006 at DailyKos. 
In the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression, it's hard to argue that having 100% over-representation of white men in the highest levels of the Federal Government is an example of choosing the best people for the job regardless of the color.   Instead, it's an example of choosing white men for jobs regardless of whether they are the best people with the best ideas and the most ability to implement them.

The over-representation of white men results, as well, from the superhuman white man myth.

The Strongest American Myth Historically is the Superhuman White Man Myth

To be elected president, Barack Obama had to overcome this powerful myth, helped by being compared with George W. Bush and John McCain in the context of a hugely unpopular war and then an international economic meltdown.

However, some of the "superhuman" white men who created the current meltdown (like leverage proponent Rubin) are being invited back into the Government, packing the upper levels with white men while ignoring the abilities of women and minorities who have not yet been given a chance to discredited their theories and abilities.   Robert E. Rubin is a director and counselor at CitiGroup, where he helped turn Citi into a financial basket case, a microcosm of the financial policies that have turned international financial markets into a freefalling chaos.

( . . . ) Mr. Obama has sworn to usher in a period of re-regulation, to avoid the freewheeling risks that Citigroup and the rest of the financial industry undertook after Mr. Rubin, with Mr. Summers, helped tear down the regulatory walls between banks, brokerages and insurance companies, and freed them to trade in unregulated and little-understood derivatives worth trillions of dollars. New York Times
So, why bring back Rubin, whose advice has already been discredited?  Who can argue that Rubin is the "best man for the job" when his advice has destroyed the value of Citi and sent the world economy into a meltdown?

It's time to bring more diversity to the Federal Government, because "anger and disgust at white male leadership" is what made it possible for Barack Obama to become president and Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state.  They should remember that as they go about filling federal jobs.  Anger and Disgust at White Male Leadership Fuel Contributions and Polling of Clinton, Obama

Tags: clinton, obama, Rubin, Summers, white male supremacy (all tags)



Re: White Males Still Vastly Overrepresented at To

Last I checked Rubin was on no Obama advisory committee. And Summers has seen the error of his previous thinking and written extensively of why his thinking was wrong.

Next while I appreciate a good rant as much as anybody, one without alternatives or solutions is simply a rant.

by jsfox 2008-12-02 11:36AM | 0 recs
Re: White Males Still Vastly Overrepresented

This isn't a "rant", it's a recommendation with supporting facts: Increase the diversity of the highest reaches of the federal government, because white men are over-represented and the very white men who got us into this economic mess with their deregulation strategies are rushing back into the federal government, AND at the same time perpetuating the problem of lack of diversity.  

America elected Barack Obama and nearly elected Hillary Clinton because America is ready for diversity and is tired of white male dominance for white male dominance' sake.  

by Manic Lawyer 2008-12-02 11:47AM | 0 recs
Re: White Males Still Vastly Overrepresented at To

Hmm not sure I read a recommendation as much as a read condemnation.

Next as to Obama's Cabinet appointments so far. I call it a fairly diverse group of male, female, black and white. Female Secretary of State, black AG, Female head of HS, black female UN Ambassador, Hispanic SoC.

And next pretty much the entire economic team has agreed regulations to need to be either strengthened or new regs created. So calling this a bunch of deregulators is a bit off the mark.

Thinking can change and people can admit they were wrong, contrary to what we have become used to over the past eight years

Next your numbers are based on the current administration so you nor I have no idea how these figures are going to change under the Obama administration.

Finally as to hints please look at his transition team for their make-up. Again a fairly diverse group of people.

by jsfox 2008-12-02 12:29PM | 0 recs
Re: White Males Still Vastly Overrepresented

While I agree with you--that racial minorities (and women) have been underrepresented--this isn't something that can immediately change, and the current numbers don't reflect what's going on in terms of diversity in hiring now.  To make it to the upper levels/ranks, it takes time.  You don't simply place people into top positions for the sake of diversity--they need experience to get to that level.  Basically, it takes a generation for a change in hiring practices to influence the composition of the top ranks.  If you want a better reflection of how we're doing now, look at the lower ranks.  And then, don't forget to control on education level.  There is STILL a sizeable difference in educational attainment between blacks, whites, and Hispanics, and that does influence hiring ratios.

by slynch 2008-12-02 03:12PM | 0 recs
Re: White Males Still Vastly Overrepresented at To

I like the looks of Obama's reasonably diverse appointments. But while statistical parity by race and gender is a worthy goal, quotas are not. Further, I really can't agree with this particular claim:

It's time to bring more diversity to the Federal Government, because "anger and disgust at white male leadership" is what made it possible for Barack Obama to become president and Hillary Clinton to become secretary of state.

There is anger and disgust with the Republican party in general, and with Dubya in particular. This might have helped Barack take the presidency, but to translate this as disgust with "white male leadership" in general is quite an extrapolation.


by Sumo Vita 2008-12-02 05:34PM | 0 recs


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