President Donald Trump signed a trio of executive actions on Monday, withdrawing the U.S. from negotiations surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, implementing a federal hiring freeze and reinstating an international policy that is likely to restrict reproductive health access worldwide.
Video from the Oval Office showed Trump slowly appending his signature to the orders with deliberate, bouncing pen strokes. The camera then panned up and across the White House advisers on hand to witness the event.
There wasn’t a woman in the shot. Plenty of white men, though, including chief White House strategist and senior counselor Stephen Bannon and senior White House adviser for policy Stephen Miller ― Trump’s “Steves,” as the president refers to them. The Steves have drawn controversy for their past criticism of ethnic diversity, among other issues, and were responsible for writing large sections of Trump’s nationalistic inauguration address, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
It was a telling visual, and one largely consistent with the demographics of Trump’s cabinet and inner circle. Trump has nominated 18 white men ― the overwhelming majority ― to Cabinet or Cabinet-level positions in his administration. He’s tapped just a handful of women and people of color to serve, with most being selected for lower-level positions. His Cabinet will not have a single Hispanic member, which hasn’t happened since 1988.
Trump’s advisers are similarly white, though a few women will have the president’s ear. Kellyanne Conway is officially serving as Trump’s counselor. Hope Hicks is director of strategic communications. Omarosa Manigault, who is black, has joined the White House as assistant to the president.
Obama also faced criticism for not appointing more women to Cabinet-level positions, but a study conducted in 2015 found that he’d placed more women and people of color in policy positions than any president in history.