4.28.72 – RN Issues Statement About the Status of Women Within the Administration

    This Administration has appointed and promoted more women to full-time, policy-making positions in the Federal Government than ever before. The number of women we have placed in policy-making positions paying $28,000 and up has nearly tripled since April 1–from 36 to 105. More than half of these hold positions previously held only by men.

    We reached another milestone with the employment and/or advancement of more than 1,000 women in middle-management positions during the past year. This is particularly noteworthy because it occurred during a time when budget policy required a 5-percent reduction in the Federal work force.

    —–Richard Nixon, in his Statement About the Status of Women Within the Administration, issued thirty-nine years ago today.

    High level Nixon administration women appointees meet with RN in the Oval Office on 13 August 1971.  From left, Barbara Franklin, Sallyanne Payton, Helen Bentley, POTUS, Nancy Hanks,
    Elizabeth Hanford (Dole),  and Ethel Walsh.

    As Barbara Franklin has written:

    When I first came to Washington, D.C. to work in the White House of President Richard Nixon almost 40 years ago, you could count the number of women in the House and Senate on your two hands plus one toe. And, you wouldn’t have needed any additional digits for the women sitting on the Supreme Court or in the President’s Cabinet – because there weren’t any.

    Then, in the early 1970s, thanks to the pioneering efforts of “A Few Good Women…” and the leadership of the President, it all began to change.

    At the newly-inaugurated President’s second press conference, on 9 February, RN fielded twenty-three questions ranging from American troop withdrawals in Vietnam, the Sentinel ABM System, and the Santa Barbara oil spill.   The twenty-fourth question,  asked by Vera Glaser, one of the few women members of the White House press corps, was one for which he hadn’t been prepared or briefed:

    [24.] Q. [Vera R. Glaser of the North American Newspaper Alliance] Mr. President, in staffing your administration, you have so far made about 200 high-level Cabinet and other policy position appointments, and of these only three have gone to women. Could you tell us, sir, whether we can expect a more equitable recognition of women’s abilities, or are we going to remain a lost sex?

    THE PRESIDENT. Would you be interested in coming into the Government? [Laughter]

    Very seriously, I had not known that only three had gone to women, and I shall see that we correct that imbalance very promptly.

    Although he had been blindsided, RN took the question —and its point— to heart, and his press conference pledge triggered a chain of events that led to the appointment of a White House Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities. Virginia Allan, a well-known Republican businesswoman, chaired it.  And Vera Glaser was among its members.

    As Barbara Franklin recalled:

    By the end of the year, the Task Force delivered a report entitled, “A Matter of Simple Justice.” It contained five forward-thinking recommendations. One key recommendation was this: “The President should appoint more women to positions of top responsibility in all branches of the Federal Government, to achieve a more equitable ratio of men and women. Cabinet and agency heads should be directed to issue firm instructions that qualified women receive equal consideration in hiring and promotion.” It also recommended creation of a White House office dedicated to advancing women in appointive positions.

    Above: Pioneering reporter Vera Glaser died at the age of 90, in January 2009.  At right, along with other reporters, she ponders a point being made by RN (flanked by Press Secretary Ron Ziegler).

    Thirty-nine years ago today, on 28 April 1972, by way of a report on the considerable progress that had been made in the past year, RN issued a Statement About the Status of Women Within the Administration:

    ONE year ago this month, I asked an intensification of this Administration’s efforts to make better use of the talents of women in Federal Government service.

    Now, one year later, I am gratified by the results. We are making real progress, not only in striking down barriers to women serving and advancing in the Government, but in affirmatively reaching out to encourage and recruit them to do so.

    This Administration has appointed and promoted more women to full-time, policy-making positions in the Federal Government than ever before. The number of women we have placed in policy-making positions paying $28,000 and up has nearly tripled since April 1–from 36 to 105. More than half of these hold positions previously held only by men.

    We reached another milestone with the employment and/or advancement of more than 1,000 women in middle-management positions during the past year. This is particularly noteworthy because it occurred during a time when budget policy required a 5-percent reduction in the Federal work force.

    We have made an impressive start, but now we must do even better in giving women the equal opportunity they have so long deserved.

    I ask the private sector and State and local governments to follow our lead by taking a close look at employment practices which may be discriminatory, and by doing all that can be done to guarantee women equal opportunity for employment and advancement as well as equal pay for equal work.

    In this era of great challenges and potentials, the Nation–in the private sector as well as in government at all levels-needs the capabilities and brainpower of every single American. The full and equal participation of women is crucial to the strength of our country.

    That morning there was a news briefing on the status of women in the Administration, conducted by US Civil Service Commission Vice Chair Jayne B. Spain, and Barbara H. Franklin, Staff Assistant to the President.


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