Part One: Underrepresentation in Congress: What Are The Consequences?
When Congress fails to accurately represent the American population, many groups are excluded from consequential lawmaking. As a result, policies that address long-standing structural inequities may not be discussed, let alone passed, shaping people’s daily lives. Recognizing the specific issues minority communities face is crucial to understanding the larger significance of representation.
Black Americans have long faced inequalities and racism. Many of the issues that they face are not being adequately addressed and pushed to the side. One reason for this is the lack of representation they hold in our Congress where the decisions are being made. As a result Black Americans continue to struggle with the issues that they face. Some of these issues include:
Black Americans are five times more likely to be stopped without just cause than a white American.
Black and Hispanic people make up about 13% of the population but 22% of fatal police shootings. Whereas white Americans makeup about 60% of the population, but only 41% of fatal police shootings.
84% of Black adults say white people are treated better than black people by police; 63% of white adults agree based on 2019 research on police relations.
Black Americans are incarcerated at more than 5 times the rate of white Americans.
87% of Black adults say the U.S. criminal justice system is more unjust towards Black people; 61% of white adults agree.
America remains one of the few countries that do not have explicit guarantees of gender equality written into their countries’ Constitution. The 19th Amendment was passed by Congress, but it was ratified in 1920 and finally gave women the right to vote and have more of a role in politics. This amendment was implemented 131 years from the time the Constitution and Congress was implemented. However, despite gaining the right to vote women are still facing the gender roles placed on them by society and are being told that women do not belong in politics. Societal gender roles impact women’s role in politics because politics has continuously been viewed as a masculine topic that women should have no part in. Gender roles also make it more difficult for women candidates to get votes because they have more to prove to obtain the same vote share as male candidates and are looked down as discarding the roles society believes that women need to fulfill in society.
From America’s founding, women have faced gender inequalities in multiple areas of society and have had to combat many of these inequalities between genders. In 2021 and years before, women’s rights have been an issue in society and throughout our government. They have been in the hands of a majority-male Congress representing the 51% of women in our country.
Women also face inequalities in wages. We have seen a gender wage gap throughout our country leading to different wages between genders. A woman will make 98 cents for every dollar a man will make doing the same job and having the same qualifications. Looking at the median salary of men and women regardless of any factors shows that women make 82 cents for every dollar a man makes on average.
This is Part One of a three-part series. Check back for parts two and three of this analysis on the consequences of underrepresentation in the United States Congress.