Advancing Women in the Federal Government
Calls from American women from all walks of life for an increased presence of women in the federal government came as early as President Nixon’s first inauguration. The head of this criticism, Washington Post reporter Vera Glaser, charged that only three of the first two hundred policy position appointments had gone to women: Pat Hitt, assistant secretary for health, education, and welfare, Elizabeth Koontz, director of the Women’s Bureau at the Labor Department, and Rita Hauser, US representative to the UN Commission on Human Rights and delegate to the General Assembly.
Beginning in 1971, the Nixon Administration began a serious undertaking to recruit more women to high and mid-level government positions within the federal government. Barbara Hackman Franklin, an assistant vice president at First National City Bank for corporate planning and a frequent volunteer during the 1968 Nixon campaign, was tapped as the head of this recruitment process.
Throughout the recruitment process, Franklin created a substantial body of memos and reports on the Nixon Administration’s work to enhance its image in regards to women’s rights and issues and its attempts to create real progress with regards to women’s status in the federal government. In response to a request for information from Julie Nixon Eisenhower on her father’s administration’s work for women’s rights and issues in January 1972, Franklin drafted a report that clearly outlined the actions, goals, and plans of the Nixon administration with regards to women’s interests. The memo reads, “American women are redefining their roles in this society. While not all women would be militant, many like the idea of freedom to choose their roles and life styles and are increasingly conscious and concerned over what they regard as the denial of equal opportunity, equal pay, and equal treatment under certain laws.” The memo continued to note the political importance of recognizing women’s rights and issues, saying, “As women go to the polls in [November] 1972, the impact of their concern for equality may be, for the first time in history, a major issue.”
View the memo below:
This memo, however, was most notable for its detailed listing of the Nixon Administration’s pursuit of women’s rights and issues and its dedication to improving the status of women in the federal government and the private sector. As of November 1971 seventy-nine women had been appointed to policy-making positions, 620 women to mid-level management positions, and 265 women to Presidential Boards and Commissions. Franklin touted the administration and the president for appointing a woman specifically to recruit women for policy-making positions (that is, herself) and for the appointment of Jayne Spain as the Vice Chairman of the Civil Service Commission.
The memo also maintained that the administration’s work was not over with regards to the elevation of women on the federal payroll. Franklin noted that the Nixon Administration would continue to consider women for the highest-level appointments, including positions on the Cabinet and the Supreme Court and as Special Assistants and Counselors to the President. The Administration also dedicated itself to the acceleration of recruitment programs for other high and mid-level federal positions. Finally, the memo noted that the Administration called for the further encouragement of hiring women in a part-time capacity.
Taken as a whole, this memo clearly outlines the Nixon Administration’s positions on the federal government’s role in securing women’s rights and issues, with particular regard for the employment and appointment of women in the federal government. Spearheaded by Barbara Hackman Franklin, the recruitment of talented and qualified women to the Nixon Administration was a major step forward in the advancement of women in the United States.