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The Color (and Gender) of Congress

February 1, 2011 - by Conor Kenny

Just what does the new Congress look like? A few weeks ago, we asked you to find photos for each of the incoming freshman members of Congress and you delivered. Volunteers located and uploaded headshots for each member and what we can tell you is… Congress remains overwhelmingly male and white. (See all the photos over on the OpenCongress wiki.)

To be sure, there were some changes in the traditional makeup. For example, there are two black Republican members of Congress, Allen West and Tim Scott, the first such members in more than ten years. While there were 32 black Republicans who ran in congressional primaries this year, as Tavis Smiley observed, “if two is the highest number of black Republicans to win since Reconstruction, it’s hard to call that a breakthrough.”

As far as the gender breakdown goes, 89 of the 535 members (16.6%) are women, according to our friends at the Swing State Project. “The percentage of women in the House Republican conference, the House Democratic caucus, the Senate Republican conference and the Senate Democratic caucus all went up, even as the overall number of women went down in the House and stayed the same in the Senate,” Joseph writes there. While 44% of the incoming freshman Democrats were women, only 10% of the freshman Republicans are.

One thing is clear, Congress as a whole, and the Republican party in particular, has a long way to go before any of their “big tents” are anywhere near reflective of the country as a whole.

See all the photos of the freshman members of the 112th Congress on the OpenCongress wiki.

Special thanks to users Tdratch0494, ZiZiJi3, Manatee1031, Joen40, Prismatic, Dmcarbol and Kjesse for contributing epic numbers of photos.

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