Should There Be Gender and Racial Quotas for the US Congress?

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Why you should care

Because equal population numbers do not usually mean equal political representation.

This week: Should there be gender and racial quotas for the U.S. Congress? Let us know by email or in the comments below.

If you read the headlines, there’s a “pink wave” set to sweep America this November. With a record number of women having entered midterm races, it looks like women’s representation in Congress is set to take a major step forward. But is such progress nearly enough to make up for the long-standing and persistent underrepresentation of women in American government?

Women make up more than half of the U.S. population but still less than 20 percent of congressional seats. And, when compared with the rest of the world, the U.S. is doing worse than before, not better. The U.S. ranked 41 out of 177 countries in female legislative representation in 1997. Twenty years later, America comes it at No. 102, trailing countries like Rwanda and Bolivia, whose parliaments are now half composed of women. Why are so many other countries surpassing the U.S. on this front? One of the main reasons: gender quotas. Forty of the 46 countries that now enjoy more than 30 percent representation by women have such quotas.

Electoral quotas have been something of the rage in recent years.

Should the U.S. embrace this growing trend, including setting both gender and racial quotas for Congress? After all, even though the 115th Congress is the most racially diverse in history, non-White members (including Blacks, Hispanics, Asians/Pacific Islanders and Nati