The Most Diverse Cabinet in US History?


With the confirmation of Marty Walsh as Labor Secretary on March 22, President Joe Biden’s core Cabinet is complete. With the vice president and the 15 heads of the executive departments, 16 officials sit in the president’s “core” Cabinet, with a further nine (two of whom have not yet been confirmed) elevated to Cabinet level at the discretion of the president. 

It’s been an aim of the Biden administration to “build an administration that looks like America,” and, in addition to appointing qualified appointees, the Cabinet’s diversity was a priority for the president. Now that the core Cabinet is fully in place, let’s take a look at how these commitments stack up in contrast to the nation as a whole.1All numbers are rounded to the nearest full percent, some individuals are counted twice in some categories, such as Vice President Kamala Harris, who is both Black and Asian American, which means the total percentage can exceed 100% in those cases. Significantly more or significantly fewer are those for whom their percentage of the Cabinet to percentage of the US overall ratio is less than 2:3 (fewer) or more than 3:2 (more).

The “Core Cabinet”

The “Core Cabinet” consists of the vice president and the 15 heads of the executive departments.

Gender Diversity

Of the 16 members of the core Cabinet, six (38% of the Cabinet) are women, fewer than in the country as a whole (51%). This is the highest percentage of women that has ever been in a president’s core Cabinet.

Ten members (63%) of the Cabinet are men, more than the country as a whole (49%).

The core Cabinet is less gender diverse than the country as a whole.

Racial Diversity

Nine (56%) are white, fewer than in the country as a whole (60%).

Three (19%) are Black, more than in the country as a whole (13%).

Three (19%) are Latinx, more than in the country as a whole (18%).

One (6%) is Asian American, more than in the country as a whole (5%).

One (6%) is Native American, significantly more than in the country as a whole (1%).

The core Cabinet is more racially diverse than the country as a whole.

Sexual Orientation Diversity

15 (94%) are straight, fewer than in the country as a whole (95%).

One (6%) is LGBT, more than in the country as a whole (5%).

The core Cabinet is more sexually diverse than the country as a whole.

Regional Diversity (by Census Region)

Four (25%) are from the Northeast, more than in the country as a whole (17%).

Five (31%) are from the Midwest, more than in the country as a whole (21%).

Two (13%) are from the South, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (38%).

Five (31%) are from the West, more than in the country as a whole (24%).

The core Cabinet is significantly less Southern than the country as a whole.

Generational Diversity (by Birth Years)

None (0%) are from the Greatest or the Silent Generation, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (8%). President Biden, however, is a member of the Silent Generation.

11 (69%) are Baby Boomers, significantly more than in the country as a whole (22%). 

Four (25%) are Generation X, more than in the country as a whole (20%).

One (6%) is a Millennial, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (22%).

None (0%) are from Generation Z and on, which is significantly fewer than the country as a whole (29%), but given at their oldest they’d be 24 years old right now, that is probably for the best.

The core Cabinet is significantly older than the country as a whole.

Partisan Diversity

No (0%) core Cabinet official has publicly identified as a Republican, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (26%).

Three (19%) have not publicly identified with any party.

13 (81%) have publicly identified as a Democrat, significantly more than in the country as a whole (32%).

The core Cabinet is significantly more Democratic than the country as a whole.


The Full Cabinet

The “Full Cabinet” consists of the vice president, the 15 heads of the executive departments, and any individuals elevated to Cabinet-level status by the president. President Biden has elevated nine positions to Cabinet-level.2The Chief of Staff, Administrator of the EPA, Director of National Intelligence, United States Trade Representative, Ambassador to the United Nations, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Administrator of the Small Business Administration, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Director of the Office of Management and Budget. One of these positions, the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy has been named, but not yet been confirmed by the Senate, which we will include in these metrics. Another one of these positions, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, was named but subsequently withdrawn and no replacement has been named, so we will not include it in these metrics. This brings us to a total of 24 members of the full Cabinet.

Gender Diversity

Of the 24 members of the full Cabinet, 11 (46% of the Cabinet) are women, fewer than in the country as a whole (51%). This is the highest percentage of women that has ever been in a president’s full Cabinet.

13 members (54%) of the Cabinet are men, more than the country as a whole (49%).

The full Cabinet is less gender diverse than the country as a whole.

Racial Diversity

12 (50%) are white, fewer than in the country as a whole (60%).

Six (25%) are Black, significantly more than in the country as a whole (13%).

Four (17%) are Latinx, fewer than in the country as a whole (18%).

Two (8%) are Asian American, significantly more than in the country as a whole (5%).

One (4%) is Native American, significantly more than in the country as a whole (1%).

The full Cabinet is significantly more racially diverse than the country as a whole.

Sexual Orientation Diversity

15 (96%) are straight, equal to in the country as a whole (95%).

One (4%) is LGBT, equal to in the country as a whole (5%).

The full Cabinet is equally sexually diverse as the country as a whole.

Regional Diversity (by Census Region)

Six (25%) are from the Northeast, more than in the country as a whole (17%).

Six (25%) are from the Midwest, more than in the country as a whole (21%).

Five (21%) are from the South, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (38%).

Five (29%) are from the West, more than in the country as a whole (24%).

The full Cabinet is significantly less Southern than the country as a whole.

Generational Diversity (by Birth Years)

None (0%) are from the Greatest or the Silent Generation, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (8%). President Biden, however, is a member of the Silent Generation.

15 (63%) are Baby Boomers, significantly more than in the country as a whole (22%). 

Four (33%) are Generation X, significantly more than in the country as a whole (20%).

One (4%) is a Millennial, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (22%).

None (0%) are from Generation Z and on, which is significantly fewer than the country as a whole (29%), but given at their oldest they’d be 24 years old right now, that is probably for the best.

The full Cabinet is significantly older than the country as a whole.

Partisan Diversity

No (0%) core Cabinet official has publicly identified as a Republican, significantly fewer than in the country as a whole (26%).

Six (19%) have not publicly identified with any party.

18 (75%) have publicly identified as a Democrat, significantly more than in the country as a whole (32%).

The full Cabinet is significantly more Democratic than the country as a whole.


Biden’s Cabinet is racially diverse and on par with the nation in terms of LGBT representation,  but he has not met true gender parity, or balanced his Cabinet regionally. His Cabinet also skews far older than the country as a whole, with only one Millennial (Pete Buttigieg) in the Cabinet and with Biden himself older than any other member of the Cabinet. 

Biden’s choices contrast most dramatically with many of his predecessors in regards to partisan diversity. President Obama’s initial Cabinet contained two Republicans and President George W. Bush’s contained one Democrat. The practice used to be far more common, but for a candidate and president such as Biden, who preached unity and bipartisanship, it is especially interesting to see he did not follow in that path.

Biden is leagues ahead of his predecessors in the number of women in the Cabinet and in racial diversity, while also hitting several firsts such as the first LGBT member of the Cabinet, the first Native American Cabinet secretary, first woman to lead the Treasury Department, first Black Defense Secretary, and first Latinos to lead the Departments of both Homeland Security and Health and Human Services. These are major milestones and the degree to which Biden was able to nominate diverse Cabinet secretaries who have been universally confirmed by the Senate is a testament to his tactical balancing of interests, selecting qualified candidates from a wide range of backgrounds, and political savvy. It is especially impressive when you note that most of these nominees were announced prior to the Georgia Senate runoff elections in early January that determined the control of the Senate and which Democrats were expected to lose.

By this point in their presidencies, all three of Biden’s predecessors had had at least one core Cabinet nominee fail: Trump’s Labor Secretary nominee fell through, Obama’s Health and Human Services Secretary nominee and then not one but two nominees for Secretary of Commerce fell through, Bush’s Labor Secretary withdrew, and Clinton lost two Attorney General nominees and a Defense Secretary as well. And they all had Senates under the control of their own party, whereas Democrats’ control of this Senate was dubious at first and now hinges on the vice president breaking a tie, assuming they can keep the rambunctious Democrats in line.

Biden’s Cabinet is a starting point for pursuing an administrative vision for an incredibly divided and diverse country. The fact that it is composed of a more representative version of that country than it ever has been means it reflects who America is. That’s something to relish, even if more can be done.

And remember, within the full Cabinet, Biden’s choice for OMB Director could tilt these numbers further towards an even more representative Cabinet. Bonus points if she’s a Millennial Republican southerner, but I wouldn’t count on it.