• About the Project
1.3.2 Diversity of Elected Leadership in Boston and Massachusetts
Why is this important?

Racial and gender diversity in elected leadership is a key measure of the value of diverse voices in civic life and breadth of a community’s political decision-making capacity.  If all leaders are of a single color, ethnicity, linguistic group, gender, age, level of physical ability, or sexual orientation, it is highly unlikely that a community will succeed in recruiting talented individuals and, instead, will draw on too narrow a range of experience to be truly effective.

How are we doing?

Boston: In 2009, the first woman of color, Ayanna Pressley, was elected at-large to the Boston City Council; a position that has been held by just two African Americans, one Latino and one Asian American in the 100 year history of the City Council.  With two vacant at-large positions, the 2009 election drew the largest and most diverse candidate pool in recent years with 15 total candidates, up from 9 in 2007, of whom six were African American, two Latino and one Vietnamese-American candidate.  Among Boston's appointed government officials, the 2007 Benchmark Report on Diversity in State & Local Government by the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy found that 27.8% were African American, 11.5% Latino and 6.6% Asian.  Boston excelled in demographic representation compared to all other municipalities with a high percentage of people of color, with only Chelsea exceeding Boston.  This report has not been updated since 2012.

Massachusetts: Despite many recent "firsts" in in both statewide and municipal electoral representation, leadership across Massachusetts remains predominantly male and white.  According to the most recent data and reporting from the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Massachusetts Municipal Association, women comprised just 20.6% of municipal officials in 2007 - virtually unchanged from 20.9% in 1997.  Likewise, 37% of cities and towns in Massachusetts had no women serving in their government bodies and just 7% had achieved gender parity in their leadership corps. Along lines of race and ethnicity, The Benchmark Report on Diversity in State & Local Government found that top-level state-wide and executive appointments are overwhelmingly white: top state-wide and executive appointees are 89% and 91.5% white, respectively, as of 2007.  There has been no update of this report since 2007.
Enlarge Massachusetts State House Districts House Districts Enlarge Massachusetts State Senate Districts Senate Districts Enlarge Gender and Racial Diversity of Elected Officials Political Representation