Declining Diversity in the Federal Government Under President Trump


By Diana Boesch
October 2, 2017

President Trump’s nominees show a stark trend toward less diverse candidates by race and gender. White men consist of 74% of President Trump’s cabinet and cabinet-level positions, 72% of lower federal court nominees, and 90% of U.S. Attorney appointees. In addition, 79% of President Trump’s Executive Branch nominees are men. Far fewer women and minorities are nominated to positions of power in President Trump’s administration compared to President Obama’s administration. Here is an intersectional breakdown of each position by race and gender.

Cabinet and Cabinet-Level Positions

Among President Trump’s 23 cabinet and cabinet-level positions,i 17 (74%) are white men,ii 2 (9%) are white women, 2 (9%) are Asian American women, 1 (4%) is a Latino man, and 1 (4%) is an African American man. President Trump’s cabinet is much less diverse than recent Presidents’ cabinets. In comparison, President Obama’s first cabinet consisted of 12 (50%) white men, 4 (17%) white women, 2 (8%) African American men, 2 (8%) African American women, and 1 (4%) Latina woman.


i The Secretary of Homeland Security position remains unfilled, but was originally filled by John Kelly, a white man.
ii This includes Former Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, who resigned September 29, 2017.

Lower Federal Court Nominees

As of September 7, 2017, President Trump has submitted 50 nominees to the federal circuit and district courts, most of which are white and male. Of those nominees, 36 (72%) are white men, 10 (20%) are white women, 1 (2%) is an Asian American man, 1 (2%) is an Asian American woman, 1 (2%) is an African American man, and 1 (2%) is a Latino man. President Trump has nominated fewer women (22%) than President Obama’s first 26 nominees, of which 10 (38%) were women. President Trump has also nominated many fewer non-white candidates (8%) compared to President Obama’s 14 candidates (54%) out of his first 26 nominees.

U.S. Attorneys

President Trump’s 42 nominees for U.S. Attorney are predominantly male and white. 38 (90%) of the nominees are white men. There is one Asian American woman (2%), one Asian American man (2%), one African American man (2%), and one Native American man (2%). Only one woman has been nominated. This is a stark contrast to President Obama, who had nominated 20 U.S. Attorneys at a similar point in his presidency. Of President Obama’s nominees, 11 (55%) were white men, 4 (20%) were white women, 3 (15%) were African American men, 1 (5%) was an Asian American woman, and 1 (5%) was an Asian American man.


Executive Branch Nominees

President Trump’s nominees for Executive Branch appointments have also been predominantly male. 234 men (79%) and only 64 (21%) women have been nominated or confirmed for Executive Branch appointments. Data is unavailable by race. This is a stark comparison to President Obama, who nominated large numbers of women and minorities to the Executive Branch, including 53.5% of women and minorities to 80 top policy positions.


— Diana Boesch is a Masters of Public Policy Student at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota.

White House photo of President Trump’s cabinet at Camp David.