As President Obama slowly releases his appointments for his second term, a trend is forming. The people nominated so far include Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, John Kerry for Secretary of State, John Brennan for CIA Director and, just today, the press got word that Jack Lew is the choice for Treasury Secretary. The trend? White men.
Now, the advocacy group Women’s Media Center is formally asking Obama to consider more gender diversity in his appointments. Today, it launched a petition calling on Obama to consider a woman for the slot of the Federal Communications Commission Chair. The petition points out a shocking statistic: In its almost 80 years of existence, a woman has not once headed up the commission:
There has never been a female chair of the Federal Communications Commission — the independent agency that oversees America’s telecommunications and media policy.
The FCC is supposed to represent the American public. Half the public are women. It’s long past the time to close the gender gap in our nation’s leadership and in the media and telecom industries’ leadership, where only 28.4% of TV news directors were women in 2011, according to the Women’s Media Center’s 2012 Status of Women in the U.S. Media Report. And the post atop the FCC is one of the most important opportunities available to raise the bar for representational diversity and decision-making in the media and telecom sectors, which are the infrastructure of this generation and of the future.
Even in his first term, the Obama administration’s record on female appointments was not nearly as stellar as one might hope. The New York Times reported just yesterday that, “male appointees under Mr. Obama outnumbered female appointees at 11 of the 15 federal departments, for instance. In some cases, the skew was also deep. At the Departments of Justice, Defense, Veterans Affairs and Energy, male appointees outnumbered female appointees by about two to one.”
The appointments thus far also demonstrate a lack of racial diversity, as well. The only person of color whose name was floated for a new appointment in a top-level position in the next cabinet — Ambassador Susan Rice — was quickly driven out of the conversation by a right wing smear campaign.