When the 113th Congress takes office early next year, it will include more women than ever before: Almost 100 women will be in office, including a record 20 female senators. Woo hoo! But apparently someone neglected to share this “Year of the Woman” news with Republican leaders in Congress.
Yesterday, the Speaker of the House, Ohio Republican John Boehner, announced the names of the Republicans who will chair the 19 major committee chairs in Congress. All 19 of them are men — and white men, to boot. The one woman who had been leading a committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, will step down because her term is ending. On the Democratic side of the house, women or minorities are expected to take as many as 9 of the 19 committee chair slots.
Despite the fact that Republicans were hammered in this last election by their failures to appeal to women and minorities, the party just does not seem to get it. The headlines — hey, like this one! — just look bad, and it’s unclear when Boehner and friends saw that coming.
Either that, or they don’t have enough potential women and minorities in the pipeline to leadership. After all, you can’t transform a part of white men into a diverse utopia overnight. Committee chairs are traditionally chosen based on seniority, and as the Huffington Post points out, most committees lack minorities and Republican women at the highest levels. If Republicans want to develop leaders who better reflect what voters look like, they need to start nurturing potential leaders careers long before they’re in line to head a committee.