In the Loop: Where are the female Obama appointees?

President Obama's all-male sports outings reflect a not-as-female-as-it-might-be senior government staff.
President Obama's all-male sports outings reflect a not-as-female-as-it-might-be senior government staff. (Alex Brandon/associated Press)
By Al Kamen
Friday, December 4, 2009

President Obama was chastised a couple of months ago for his all-male basketball games and golf outings. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at the time that "the point's well taken."

But the reason for the all-guy events may be that when Obama rounds up senior staff members for a pickup game, he doesn't have all that many women to choose from.

Of the 515 senior-level government jobs tracked by The Washington Post at, Obama has named fewer women than Bill Clinton did in his first year in office (no jokes, please), and not all that many more than George W. Bush did in his first year.

Of the 376 people the Obama White House announced, nominated and confirmed in those top-tier administration jobs, only 32 percent have been women. In comparison, 46 percent of Clinton's Senate-confirmed nominees in 1993 were women, as were 26 percent of Bush's first-year nominees, according to a year-end study in 2001 by the Brookings Institution.

(Filtering for only White House officials -- folks who might have their gym shoes or clubs readily at hand, should a call come -- Obama's percentage of women in those top jobs is 37 percent.)

The numbers in terms of race and ethnic diversity indicate that 69 percent of these appointees are white, about 16 percent are African American, 10 percent Hispanic and 4.5 percent Asian.

The Brookings study found that 14 percent of Clinton's folks were African American, 6 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian. The Bush numbers were 9 percent African American, 8 percent Hispanic and 3 percent Asian.

Meanwhile, despite Obama's ban on lobbyists in the government, Beltway residents fared well. About 55 percent of the officials lived in the metro area or worked in Washington before joining the administration. Bush, despite his condemnation of people from Washington, also appointed a majority (53 percent) from this area.

Get this man a gnome

Speaking of Bill Clinton, the former president has his top tourist sites picked out. "I want to go to Mongolia and ride a horse across the steppes and pretend I am in Genghis Khan's horde -- but I'm not hurting anybody!" he told Foreign Policy in an interview. "I want to go to Antarctica. There are places where I have been where I have only been working. I would like to take Hillary to climb Kilimanjaro, while there is still snow up there." Book now.

It begins at home

Don't forget! It's the Loop Nobel Charities Contest to help Obama figure out who deserves -- or at least could use -- a piece of the $1.45 million Nobel Peace Prize he's picking up in Oslo next week.

Submit your suggestions for recipients of Obama's donations (maximum two per entrant) to or In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071. Deadline is midnight Monday, or whenever Obama announces his picks.

Entries have included real charities and also some less-worthy "organizations," such as "The John Edwards-John Ensign Non-Partisan Marital Counseling Foundation." (We'll include winners from each category.)

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