Biden’s cabinet will be made up of a record number of women
“We did it, Joe,” said US Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the media projected a Democratic victory in the November 3 presidential election. And, although Joe Biden had achieved it, the triumph of his running mate is not insignificant either, but rather one more milestone to add to the list of barriers that he has overcome.
The 56-year-old Harris’ political career is fraught with momentous achievements. The daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, she has been a San Francisco district attorney, California’s first black female attorney general, and, in 2017, became the second black US senator.
From there, and as the first vice president of the North American nation – also the first black person to achieve such a distinction – she will become the woman who holds the highest position in the history of the United States, an achievement that Until now it held the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.
Although the position of vice president is often disparaged as ‘second-best’, assuming it is basically testimonial, Harris will have the power to, for example, tip the balance in favor of the Democratic Party in the Senate, tied for the number of Republican and Democratic members, thanks to your casting vote.
As a non-white woman in a predominantly white setting, her historic triumph represents millions of women often overlooked, historically underrepresented, and systematically ignored. For the first time in the more than 200 years of the country’s history, this profile becomes the recipient of this new power that Harris embodies.
“That she’s here tonight is a testament to the dedication of generations before me,” Harris recalled during her nomination acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in August.
For women, in general, her presence can make a difference, since one of the reasons that influence her low participation in politics is precisely the lack of role models. Harris’s work may thus alleviate the gender gap in politics.
“I feel like black girls like me can run for class delegate, black women like me can go for big things in life like she did,” 14-year-old Paris Bond told the television network. CNN in August.
“No one can deny the power of seeing someone who shares an identity, such as their gender or their race, that are so important in American society, certainly in a position of power,” sums up the director of the Gender Initiative of the Harvard Business School, Colleen Ammerman, according to ‘Forbes’ magazine.
During her run for the White House, she has never avoided mentioning the problems she has faced while trying to make her way into politics, underscoring that people have always tried to box her in. “I wasn’t listening. And we won,” she says.
The same vice president-elect has alluded to the barriers that she has broken during her life in electoral events. In her view, being the first requires that voters “see that she can free herself from what she has been.” Perhaps what best defines Harris’s path is the phrase her mother, Shyamala, used to say to her: “You may be the first to do a lot of things, but make sure you’re not the last.”
ONE MORE STEP
The Vice Presidency places Harris as a strong candidate for the Presidency in future elections, should she choose to run again, as she already did in the 2020 race.
In addition, should the president pass away or become incapacitated – Biden is 78 years old – she could access the Oval Office in a country where the gender gap is still considerable.
Currently, 122 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives are women, 27.2 percent. Although low, it is a record female representation figure.
In the Senate they constitute 26 per cent, 26 out of 100. In total, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, only 25.1 per cent of parliamentarians worldwide are women.
In addition, that Kamala Harris was the president of the richest, most powerful and influential country in the world would make a difference in a world in which, in June 2019, only 11 women are heads of state and 12 heads of government, according to data released by UN Women.
Americans are divided over an eventual Kamala Harris Presidency. A poll by Pew Research shows that half of those polled believe Harris is “qualified” to serve as president, while 47 percent are against her. The majority – 55 percent – expect him to exert the “right influence” in the Biden administration.
On the contrary, another 36 percent believe that
it will end up assuming an “excessive burden of responsibilities”, while only 7 percent anticipate that it will be a “testimonial” figure.
Harris and Biden will take office as vice president and president of the United States this Wednesday. “It is about the soul of the United States and our willingness to fight for it. We have a lot of work ahead of us. Let’s get started,” said the vice president when she won the elections.
THE CABINET WITH MOST WOMEN IN HISTORY
On the other hand, Biden’s cabinet will be the one with the most female presence in the entire history of the United States. The president-elect has nominated women for five of the 15 front-line positions, a figure that exceeds by one the records set by his predecessors Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. The first two included four women in their original cabinets from his second terms, while Obama did so in his first term.
Biden’s nominations for US executive positions are historic for other reasons as well. As she promised, “both the White House and the Cabinet will be like the country.” Even without gender parity, Biden’s team will break diversity records, breaking at least two ‘glass ceilings’.
On the list, Janet Yellen, the first woman to chair the United States Federal Reserve, the bank of the world’s largest economy, stands out as the first woman to be Secretary of the Treasury. Also House of Representatives Deb Haaland for Home Secretary who, if confirmed, would be the first Native American member of the Cabinet.
Biden has also nominated Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge to lead housing and urban development, former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm to lead the Department of Energy and Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as Secretary of Commerce.