“American women have made wide-ranging contributions to our country throughout its history…In medicine, science, law, education and every other profession, women have helped this country achieve unparalleled success.”
A lasting legacy of Richard Nixon’s presidency is the advancement of women. Among the notable outcomes of this dedicated effort by the Nixon administration was tripling the hiring of women in the Executive Branch.
During the first year of his presidency, Nixon began an initiative to place women in positions in the federal government. Scholars, administration members, and representatives from corporate America were gathered to form The President’s Task Force for Women’s Rights and Responsibilities. In December of 1969 the task force issued a 33-page report with five key recommendations to change the course of women’s rights and employment in the United States, beginning at the federal level.
Barbara Hackman Franklin, one of the first-ever female graduates of Harvard Business School and an executive at Citibank, was tapped by Fred Malek, Special Assistant to the President for Personnel, to lead what would be the first-ever concerted effort to put women on an equal employment footing with men.
As a direct result of the task force’s work, women were suggested for the first-ever female Supreme Court Justice, and the number of women in the military ranks grew as the first women general officers, flag officers, and sky marshals were appointed. It was, says Franklin, the beginning of a tidal wave on which no one could turn their backs.
In a memo to the Executive Departments and Agencies dated April 21,1972, President Nixon stated, “In this Administration we have firmly espoused the rights of women, and we must now clearly demonstrate our recognition of the equality of women by making greater use of their skills in high level positions.”
Another milestone achievement happened on June 23, 1972, when President Nixon signed Title IX into law. This groundbreaking legislation prohibited sexual discrimination in any institution receiving federal funding. Today, it is best known as the amendment that grants women and girls the right to participate in high school and college athletics. As stated by Nancy Hogshead-Makar, triple medalist in swimming at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, “Other than the constitutional right to vote, possibly no other piece of legislation has had a greater effect on women’s lives than Title IX.”
On Saturday, June 24, 2023 the Nixon Foundation is hosting the second annual Nixon 5K for Title IX. This family-friendly event is a great way to celebrate the women and girls in your life.
Visitors to the Nixon Library can learn more about the lasting impact of President Nixon’s ratification of the landmark Title IX legislation and the myriad of milestone achievements of women in the 1960s in the permanent exhibit Evening the Odds: Women Leading the Way.
In 2022, the Nixon Foundation celebrated the 50th anniversary of Title IX with an event featuring two panels. In the first panel, former U.S. Commerce Secretary Barbara Franklin and historian Heath Hardage Lee discussed the Nixon administration’s work to recruit women into senior government positions, and the effects of that work on the creation of Title IX. Then, a panel of Team USA Olympians including 3-time gold medalist Kerri Walsh Jennings, 4-time gold medalist Janet Evans and 2-time gold medalist Courtney Mathewson celebrated the impact of Title IX on their personal lives as well as the lives of all women.