Emmanuel Macron, the newly elected president of France, just finished appointing his cabinet members.
In what many around the globe considered a win for tolerance and fair-mindedness, Macron pulled off a resounding victory over far-right, nationalist candidate Marine Le Pen in the May 2017 election.
Now, the new president’s cabinet picks are giving the French people a clearer idea of where his priorities lie as their leader.
Macron’s cabinet is diverse in a number of ways, including when it comes to gender.
Widely considered a centrist in France, the president chose leaders from across the political spectrum to run various departments. He also appointed 11 women — half of his cabinet — to fill top official roles, including Mounir Mahjoubi, a Muslim with Moroccan heritage, who is now in charge of digitalization, and Agnés Buzyn, a Jewish physician and daughter of a Holocaust survivor, as the country’s newest health minister.
The gender split in Macron’s cabinet marks yet another effort by a world leader to ensure women are getting a seat at the table when it counts. Two years ago, when a reporter asked why it was so important for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to include several women in his cabinet, the Canadian leader made waves online by quipping simply, “because it’s 2015.”
Not every newly elected leader has taken steps to ensure women have equal representation when it comes to politics, however.
Macron’s diverse cabinet sits in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s.
“Donald Trump is rolling back the clock on diversity in the cabinet,” Paul Light, a professor at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, told The New York Times in March 2017.
The professor’s assessment isn’t hyperbolic; it’s been decades since we’ve seen a cabinet with less diversity than Trump’s.
The president’s millionaire and billionaire appointees don’t just collectively create the wealthiest cabinet the U.S. has ever seen; they’re also far more white and male than any other cabinet since Ronald Reagan’s. The few women and racial minorities who are in positions in Trump’s administration are mostly in the lowest ranking ones too.
For a political leader, selecting a diverse cabinet goes beyond generating favorable headlines — it promotes good governance that better reflects the people.
It’s something Trump may soon learn the hard way.
Although the president’s cabinet selections have been a disappointment for gender equality, Trump may have inadvertently sparked a new era for women in U.S. politics. After the 2016 election, there’s been a surge in women interested in running for office across the country.
“We saw an immediate uptick in interest in our work, and it has persisted through today,” Andrea Dew Steele, the president and founder of Emerge America, told NPR in February 2017. Her group helps train Democratic women running for office. “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
Take a hint from Macron, Trump — when a government runs more like a service to all its people and less like an old boys’ club, everyone wins.