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Is the House of Representatives actually representative?

Updated: Sep 12, 2023

The 116th Congress is the most diverse in history. I have become absorbed by reading the stories of incredible newly elected officials who are helping to bring about this change, some being the first to reach such milestones.

I stumbled upon an article from Business Insider that stopped this statistics teacher in her tracks. So much great data for students to explore! They've made an interactive seat map so students can investigate the demographics of the 115th and 116th Houses of Representatives. As I took in all the information, the question begs to be asked:

"Is the House of Representatives actually representative?"

We created an activity to help students answer this question. The activity begins by having students think about what the House of Representatives looks like in terms of distribution of gender. Students calculate what proportion of the House, the Democratic Party, and the Republican Party is female (a great context for reviewing conditional probabilities). Next, they'll engage with the data, and use it to create an arguable viewpoint.

This lesson could be used with students from middle school through AP Stats (it's got chi-square written all over it). It also would be great to use as a cross-curricular project with your English and social studies colleagues.

Activity: Is the House of Representatives actually representative?

Activity: DOCX / PDF

Graphic Organizer: PDF

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