Who Leads Us?

Do America’s Elected Officials Reflect Our Population?

Not Even Close.

US Population, 2014

Share the Facts

  • White men in this country hold 4 times the political power of women & people of color.
  • 31% of our population controls 65% of elected offices.
  • 86% of us think America’s democracy is broken. Let’s move toward a #reflectivedemocracy together.
  • 71% of elected officials are men, 90% are white, and 65% are white men.
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America is a nation founded on an ideal that all people are equal and have a stake in how our nation is governed. While we may not always succeed, ours is a history of pursuing this vision. It’s not enough that women and citizens of all races can vote – every American must also have equal access to lead.

Who Leads Us is a project of Women Donors Network. Our goal is to provide the American people with a way to measure our progress toward a democracy where our leaders reflect the people they serve. The data you see presented on this website comes from a first-of-its kind exploration of the race and gender composition of more than 42,000 American elected officials, conducted in the Summer of 2014. This data was analyzed in comparison to Census data, confirming that the face of America’s leadership bears little resemblance to our country’s population.

We’re strongest when our leadership reflects the full range of talent and lived experience that America has to offer. That’s why we’re working for change. Together with other advocates and funders, we are working to level the playing field for all who wish to represent their communities in elected office. Let’s build a democracy that reflects all of us.

In the News

Voting by Numbers

The New Yorker / October 27, 2014
By JELANI COBB
October is to political prognosticators what February is to florists and April is to accountants; namely, the time when a profession that’s peripheral to our daily concerns momentarily becomes the center of our attention. This season’s forecasting for the midterm elections is largely occupied with the partisan balance of the Senate. (The Times’ Upshot column has it seventy-one per cent likely that the Republicans will gain control. FiveThirtyEight puts the G.O.P.’s odds at sixty-one per cent.)

White men are 31 percent of the American population. They hold 65 percent of all elected offices.

The Washington Post / October 8, 2014
By Nia-Malika Henderson
The folks at Who Leads Us, a project by the Women Donors Network, have posed an interesting question about the state of politics: Do we live in a reflective democracy? The short answer is no, and the long answer is also no. And the two charts below (put together by Philip Bump) prove it. It's no secret that white men dominate politics, which we've written about before, and current projections suggest that women won't reach political parity/reflective representation for another 100 years.

Report: Every Level of Government Is Suffering From a Serious Woman Problem

The New Republic / October 8, 2014
By Danny Vinik
You’ve probably heard these statistics before: Men make up 80 percent of the Senate and 81 percent of the House. There are just two black and four Hispanic senators. The numbers aren’t much better in the lower chamber. The fact that white men are vastly overrepresented in Congress is probably not news to anyone. But this discrepancy does not just exist at the federal level. It is prevalent across all levels of government.

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