Participating in the Library’s new “In Conversation” series, former Nixon Administration official Barbara Franklin discussed her historical role in advancing women’s issues as an aide to President Nixon.
“We had a lot of issues ahead of us that we needed to deal with,” said Franklin. “President Nixon really was on the edge of making equality for women a mainstream idea.”

Franklin was at the Nixon Library and participated in the new “In Conversation” series hosted by Dr. Tim Naftali. Afterwards, she sat down for a three hour taped oral history which will be part of the National Archives and Records Administration’s permanent history of the Nixon years.

As White House executive assistant for manpower, Franklin’s challenge was to help recruit capable and qualified women around the country to fill important positions in the Federal government.

“Advancing women in government was important to President Nixon. It was because of him that government was leading by example. He created a ripple effect on the rest of the country,” Franklin said.

“Before, diversity was never talked about. If I saw a position coming up, and if I found a woman who was qualified, I would try to place her. My young optimism helped it become successful.”

Franklin was one of the original commissioners of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and later was appointed Secretary of Commerce by President George W. Bush. She is now President and CEO of Barbara Franklin Enterprises, Vice Chair of the U.S.-China Business Council, and Chairman of the Economic Club of New York.