While black women had a higher voting rate than all other groups of men and women during the past two presidential elections, they remain underrepresented at every level of federal and state political office in the U.S., a new report has found.
The report by the Insitute of Women’s Policy Research found that black women, who comprised 6.4% of the population in 2014, held only 3.4% of seats in the United States Congress. They held no seats in the U.S. Senate as of August 2016, and only 3.5% of seats in state legislatures.
“Black women are significantly underrepresented in elected offices in the United States relative to their share of the population,” the report states.
Among the reasons for this, according to the report, are that women of color are less likely to be recruited to run for office and may also encounter more efforts to discourage them from doing so than white women.
The report suggests that black women’s representation in both federal and state governments can be improved by campaign training programs, outreach to encourage bids for office, and investment in black women leaders.
“Such efforts will be critical to increasing black women’s political participation in the years to come,” the report states.
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