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.

— President Richard Nixon

During the 1970s President Nixon appointed more women to high-level positions in the Executive Branch than all his predecessors, fought against the discrimination of women, and ultimately advanced their condition in American Society.



How It Happened

Women in Federal Government


In August 1970, President Nixon’s urban affairs advisor and the future New York Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, circulated a memo that sparked chatter among the White House staff.

“Female equality will be a major cultural/political force of the 1970s,” Moynihan wrote to President Nixon. “The essential fact is that we have educated women for equality but have not really given it to them.”

After World War II, women were achieving higher levels of education, and advanced technology had released them from many traditional duties, allowing them to seek fulfillment outside the home and a stake in the growing peacetime economy.

By the late 1960s women’s equality entered the mainstream national conversation for the first time in American electoral history, with their status in the private and public workplace becoming a major political issue. On the average, the more than 30 million women who worked earned only 60 percent of the wages men did for the same job.

“Female equality will be a major cultural/political force of the 1970s. The essential fact is that we have educated women for equality but have not really given it to them.”

— Daniel Patrick Moynihan

In February 1969, during President Nixon’s second press conference, he was confronted by a question from Vera Glaser, a reporter from the North American Newspaper Alliance, about why too few women had been selected to policy positions within the first month of the administration.

In January, Nixon had appointed three women to top posts, including campaign official Patricia Reilly Hitt to serve as assistant secretary of health, education and welfare.

“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?” Glaser asked.

Nixon quipped: “Would you be interested in coming into the Government?”

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

In April, Nixon named Virginia Knauer as a special assistant to the president for consumer affairs; and by the summer he issued an executive order prohibiting discrimination in the federal civilian workforce, and integrating the women’s initiative in the overall Equal Opportunity program.

His most consequential move for women during his first year in office was the creation of the Women’s Task Force on Rights and Responsibilities charged with reviewing the status of women in American life, and providing recommendations on improving their condition.

In June 1970, the task force released their report appropriately titled “A Matter of Simple Justice,” which advocated for an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, the promotion of civil rights and equal opportunity for women, and as an example for society, the advancement of more women to executive positions in the federal government.

As early as the 1968 campaign, Nixon had made the passage of the ERA among his top priorities. By early 1972, it passed both Houses of Congress, and on March 18 of that year, the president had endorsed its ratification by the states (though popular with majority of the American people, the ERA fell three states short of the 38 it needed to become law).

In 1972, President Nixon also signed the Equal Employment Opportunity Act that mandated that all federal agencies’ personnel decisions were to be free of inequality; as well as Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, that prohibited, on the basis of sex, discrimination by any educational institution receiving federal financial assistance.

Representing 53 percent of the total population, the most underrepresented segment of the American population in the federal government workforce were women.

In April 1971, Nixon directed the heads of all executive departments and agencies to develop affirmative action plans for the advancement of women. The president wrote, “it has been my desire to attract the ablest and most talented people in the country to join this Administration and assist in the achievement of our far-reaching goals.” He continued, “The Nation’s many highly qualified women represent an important reservoir of ability and talent that we must draw on to a greater degree.”

Nixon told his principals to take several actions: first, to develop and implement a plan for attracting more qualified women to top and mid-level appointments; second, to fill vacancies on advisory boards and committees with well-qualified women, with a goal of 25 percent of these posts to be held by women; and third, to designate an internal coordinator to oversee and be held responsible for these initiatives.

The president’s director of personnel, Fred Malek, recruited Barbara Hackman Franklin, an assistant vice president on the corporate planning staff of the First National City Bank (later Citibank) to lead this effort.

The Nation’s many highly qualified women represent an important reservoir of ability and talent that we must draw on to a greater degree.”

— President Richard Nixon

The beginnings of the recruitment process proved arduous. Franklin had to adapt to the publicity of working in the White House while successfully managing a vast, and unprecedented, undertaking. Though the nature of her position was behind the scenes, as the go-to person for recommendations on qualified women candidates, her work also gravitated toward the Nixon administration’s larger initiatives on women’s issues, including the ERA and childcare policy.

Franklin began interviewing candidates across the country, building a reservoir of talent from the public and private sectors that would serve under President Nixon, and in successive administrations.

Notable appointments included Ramona Bañuelos, a California business woman, to treasurer of the United States; Elizabeth Hanford Dole, deputy assistant to the president for consumer affairs, to a seven year term to the Federal Trade Commission (Dole was elected U.S. senator from North Carolina in 2003); Carla Hills, a U.S. attorney from Los Angeles, to assistant and later deputy attorney general (Hills became secretary of housing and urban development to President Ford and U.S. trade representative to President George H.W. Bush); Dixie Lee Ray, a scientist and director of Seattle’s Pacific Science Center as chair of the Atomic Energy Commission (Ray was elected governor of Washington in 1976) and Ann McLaughlin Korologos to spokeswoman of the Environmental Protection Agency (Korologos became secretary of labor to President Reagan).

In 1972, President Nixon selected Virginia Allan, chair of the women’s task force, to be deputy assistant Secretary of State for public affairs; and Anne Armstrong, co-chair of the Republican National Committee became the highest-ranking woman in the administration as counselor to the president (Armstrong became Ambassador to Great Britain under President Ford).

The same year President Nixon was re-elected in a national landslide, winning 49 of 50 states, 60 total million votes, and support from over 60 percent of women voters.

Franklin’s achievements are well recorded. At the year-mark of the recruitment program, the number of women in top-level positions had, in fact, tripled, and many were in posts that had never before been held by women. In all, over a thousand women were hired or promoted at a time when budget and personnel cuts shrank the federal government by 5 percent.

By May 1973, the White House Women Recruiting Program had accomplished what many thought was politically impossible:

  • The number of women in high-level jobs paying more than $28,000 per year increased from 36 to 130.
  • More than 1,000 women were hired or promoted to mid-level government positions.
  • A public relations function on women’s issues was created within the White House that provided “substantive input to the Domestic Council on a number of issues of concern to women.”
  • Establishment of a talent bank and files on approximately 1,000 qualified women, which were incorporated into the White House Personnel Office computer system.
  • Frequent updates on the number and lists of top women appointees.
  • Monitoring of results of each department and agency’s efforts to implement their action plans on hiring and promoting women, as required by the president’s memorandum of April 21, 1971.

An Interview with the Honorable Barbara Franklin


The Richard Nixon Foundation’s research intern Sarah Smith interviewed Barbara Franklin on August 28, 2015 about her time in the Nixon administration and efforts to bring qualified women into the Federal Government. Sarah Smith is a graduate of Chapman University and majored in History. 

Barbara Franklin

Sarah Smith: How were you chosen to be part of the Nixon White House staff?

Secretary Franklin: I’ve been asked this before and I don’t really know all of the background of it. What I do know is that Fred Malek, who was heading presidential personnel at the time and who had been a classmate of mine at Harvard Business School called one day and said that the president was starting an effort to advance women in the federal government. He said that President Nixon needed someone to come to the White House staff and be the point person for that effort and asked if I would be interested.

Now, I have to tell you, I was sitting at Citibank in New York. I was not that far out of business school. This would have been the spring of 1971–early spring. Our class at Harvard Business School was ’64. So I was a young, assistant vice president at the time, part of a small group of MBAs that were sitting right underneath the CEO, who was Walter Wriston at the time. It was a very advantageous place to be sitting for any young person.

I didn’t know whether I was interested in this or not. I certainly was interested in moving women forward. So Fred said, “Why don’t you come and talk to us?” So I did. I consulted with some friends too who said, “Don’t do that because that administration will never do anything for women and your career is going well. You’re going to damage your career if you get associated with such an administration that will not do what it says it might want to do.”

I became convinced that the effort was going to be a serious one. So long story short,

I decided that I would do it. I negotiated a leave of absence from the bank for six months initially. Then we kept extending that leave. I was on a leave from the bank the whole time that I was in the White House, actually. That’s why I came. I believed in what the effort was all about, and I thought that they (the administration and the president) were serious about making it happen.

Sarah Smith: So given that you wanted to make sure that this effort was serious, how did women’s issues become a top part of the Nixon administration’s domestic policy agenda and what were the main issues?

Secretary Franklin: I’m not sure I would call it a top part, but I would certainly call it a progressive part. I don’t know the answer to that either. That’s one of those questions that through the years has been asked. Why did the president do this? Well, my take on it is that there were really two reasons.

One, his wife. If you know anything about Pat Nixon and her story, she was a rather remarkable self-made woman who grew up in a part of Nevada that was not exactly a luxurious place. In other words, she came from kind of no place—humble origins–got herself educated, got herself to New York, came back to California and became a teacher at a time when all of that was not so easy to do or even so probable to do.

He had a wife who was a self-made woman. While she never got into policy discussions publicly when he was in office, I think there might have been a little pillow talk there. Also, he had two daughters. That always was the difference. You want your daughters to have a chance to do whatever they want to do.

Then the other thing that was happening at the time, and this would have been through the ’60s, the women’s movement, really triggered by Betty Friedan’s “Feminine Mystique,” which came out I believe while I was at Harvard Business School. Those of us (there were not very many women there; there were 12 of us in that class)–we all read that book. It just put a lot of things in a different light, and in perspective. Of course, we were interested in careers anyway, but it made careers and advancing women far more palatable.

Anyway, there was such political impetus behind the women’s movement. Now, what it was though, was a rather left-leaning controversial movement at the time. There were the people who burned bras and just were rather boisterous about the need to advance women. But there was some political momentum. One of my compatriots in the White House later said it wasn’t all just the democratic women either. There were some fine Republican women who were wanting the same kind of advances. So I think there was a political aspect to it too.

I think there were two things. I think that President Nixon had a self-made wife and two daughters–and then there was a political reason to pay more attention to the advancement of women.

Sarah Smith: And what were those main women’s issues at the time?

Secretary Franklin: It was equal opportunity and equal pay. There were a lot of areas that women were just not expected to be in. Women in those days were more likely to be teachers and nurses. Those things were thought to be just fine.

But when you talked about–oh, goodness–engineers or lawyers or whatever, or taxi drivers, it was a little more iffy. The underlying reason for that was that our society at that point did not have a consensus about what women should be able to do and where the opportunities should be open. I think that was really the root of it.

There is a lot of stereotyping about, “Oh goodness, women couldn’t possibly do that”–be construction workers or tugboat captains or whatever, or be at the highest levels of leadership in a number of different places. I think that the women, certainly Republican women and Democratic women, everybody wanted more opportunity to do what you wanted to do if you were a woman–to have a career, or to have a career and a family simultaneously or sequentially or whatever.

Women just wanted opportunity, and ability I should say, not opportunity – ability to craft their own life course and lifestyle. That’s what it was really about, and equal pay of course. We’re still not there on that one. But that was in the mix. But I think it was the opportunity issue more than anything else.

Sarah Smith: Could you also speak on what you thought President Nixon’s position was on these women’s issues?

Secretary Franklin: I think he was right there on this. He said something like that he thought every woman should have the opportunity to pursue a career outside the home or not, and to craft what I just said before, except that I’m using my words, not his, to craft a lifestyle and a life course that works for each individual rather than to be stereotyped into certain roles, or kept out of certain other things because it wasn’t the thing to do.

He advanced women in critical jobs in the federal government. He took a left-wing issue (it started with a left-wing idea of moving women forward) and brought it into the mainstream of American life. Equality for women was legitimate. It was okay. It was the American way.

I think that’s really what he did by making the effort, and it was a successful effort.

That was important. It had to be successful to advance women. I think that the world changed. I don’t know that he set about to do that, but I think it really changed the entire societal atmosphere with respect to women–or at least started a change that would have happened at some point, but it would have not have happened then. I feel very, very clear in my own mind about that.

And then the advances that went from there were just really astonishing. The world is not perfect today. But what’s happened in these last 40 years between then and now is really quite astonishing. Now you look around and you see, oh goodness, you see women at all kinds of levels of government. In the private sector as well we’re seeing more CEOs. We’re seeing more women who are heading academic institutions. Look at our universities too.

The other thing that happened there at that time, because this effort was successful–there were more women placed in policymaking jobs, jobs that women never held. That’s where the breakthrough came. Once that barrier came down a woman did a job and it was no big deal. She really can be chairman of the National Labor Relations Board. It’s really okay.

The other thing that happened that was further down in the middle management ranks was that some of the jobs that were not technically closed to women—but women were not offered them because it wasn’t done–were things like FBI agents, tugboat captains, forest rangers. A variety of those kinds of nontraditional jobs became open to women in the federal government. They opened for women across our society.

RN Barbara Franklin

Sarah Smith: So returning back to your time in the White House, what was it like being one of the few higher-ranking women in the Nixon administration?

Secretary Franklin: Well, it was pretty interesting because there were too few of us.

There were a lot of men, needless to say. I would observe that there would be a spectrum of points of view, is probably the most delicate way I could put it. There were some men who were very supportive of what I was trying to do, and this whole effort to advance women. After all, the president said he wanted to do this.

The president was monitoring progress. This was important to note here. When reports were going to the president– that was common knowledge. That makes a difference. However, there were some others on that White House staff who I think did not think this was such a good idea at all. I did not tangle with them. Let me put it that way. I just circumvented them or worked around them or above them or under them or whatever. Confrontation is not my style of doing anything. So I didn’t. But I became aware of who they were

And then I would say something else. Today it’s got a label, what is called today “unconscious bias” –where there were men who really weren’t against this effort but who really hadn’t thought about it much and had some unconscious bias that resulted in stereotypes and whatever else, and not thinking a woman could do a job like that or putting a woman down and not realizing it, that sort of thing. So there was a mixture there.

But in the right times and places, I got the support I needed. I would say Bob Finch was one of those who was very supportive, Fred Malek as well. I was working directly for him. But Bob Finch was counselor to the president. So he was higher up. I think at that circle close in around the president–I think Bob Finch was very influential and very helpful.

Sarah Smith: What was the most challenging part of recruiting women to the federal government?

Secretary Franklin: Well, the most challenging part was finding the women. Let me back up here. When I started at that job, there was nothing there. I barely had an office. I had no assistant, no secretary–as we called them then–no other staff. So I had to first get that together. The secretary I had at Citibank came (they were very kind at Citi). They loaned her to me for a while, so she came just to help me answer the mail. But then we worked together and I did have a staff. So I wasn’t just sitting there by myself.

But then how do we find women? Well, what I did was divide the country into ten regions. I’m not sure what the number is now; there were ten federal regions then. I used those. There was a hub city in each of the ten. I just made a point of going to the hub city (like Chicago would be one of them in that region in the middle west) and gathering some of the contacts—either that I knew or others of my friends’, or ones that the White House staff or others in government knew as sources–to ask them if they knew candidates, or if they would present candidates who then we could put into our talent bank.

I was over here building a talent bank of women that then could be accessed or used if the departments and agencies were looking for a particular type of expertise or skill or whatever. So I did that. I traveled around the country. We began to get a lot of mail and we began to get more and more resumes that were really good.

On the other side of this, though, there were so many that I got – this has left a great mark on me – that were rather sad. There were women who wanted jobs of some kind but didn’t have the skills. They were women who needed to work because they were divorced or they had families or whatever it was. It just underscored to me the need for more opportunity for women.

But anyway, that’s what I did. Then there was a group in town here, in Washington DC, the Business and Professional Women’s Club. I think they still exist. They had already built a talent bank or started to. They were very kind in lending me what they had in their talent bank. So by the time we were finished, we had a pretty good group of 1,000 or so women. At that time, I really think I had found every prominent woman in the country on both sides of the aisle, Republicans and Democrats.

For example, I had found Sandra Day O’Connor who was in that talent bank. She was in Arizona. I think she was either then a judge or she was in the legislature. It took President Reagan later to put her on the Supreme Court as the first woman.

But literally, I just beat the bushes and everybody knew it. I was also meeting with women’s groups. They were helping as well. I would say something else too. It wasn’t a rigid, “They must be Republican,” or anything. It was just, “Give us the best women you have,” and then we can sort out. There are some slots that required Democrats anyway on some of the regulatory bodies.

But anyway, that was how it worked. It was a 24/7 kind of a job. It never stopped. And there were a lot of people who really did pitch in and help and some on the White House staff. I can name names. I won’t name the ones that were the good ones or the ones that weren’t. But really, considering what was going on and the tenor of the times, it got a lot of support. Really, it’s to the president’s credit. He was the one who started all this.

The other thing I should mention here and it’s one of the reasons why this worked and it’s what I would call a managerial effort. Part of the whole thrust here was a three-pronged effort. The first piece of it was that the president requested from his cabinet secretaries and agency heads – action plans about how they were going to advance women in their departments. There were different categories of advancement. Some of it was commission. Some of it was policy making, mid-level and training. He wanted an action plan.

This memo from the President to his cabinet secretaries and agency heads, which is I know in the file at the Nixon Library, came out April of ’71. He wanted those plans back in a month and he wanted to know who was going to be in charge in the department. I was the one who had the task of monitoring how they were doing on those plans. As our talent bank was being built in the White House, they then could access the talent bank. We facilitated a lot of that when they were looking for some kind of person for a slot.

Back then there were reports that were periodically going to the president about how the departments were doing. And then when a cabinet secretary did a good job, that person, they were all men at the time, got a note from the president saying, “You met your targets. Thank you. Good job.”

If a cabinet secretary missed a target, we had targets, by the way, that were numerical. I’m not sure that that would work today, but we did it. Somebody would say, “That’s a quota.” It wasn’t a quota. It was a target. There’s a difference. If a cabinet secretary missed one, there was another kind of note that would go. I know about that because I was drafting them and sending them up. That gets, I think, anyone’s attention, knowing that the president is actively watching what the results are that are coming out of this.

That was the first prong. My appointment in the White House was the second one.

And then Jayne Baker Spain, who was a businesswoman from Ohio, was brought in to be vice chair of the old Civil Service Commission. We don’t have that anymore. It’s now the Office of Personnel Management and it’s not a commission form. But her role was to make sure that the women in the career service and the policies that surrounded them were in concert with what the president wanted done.

That was the thrust of the effort. It just kept going. We monitored progress. Progress was known. That’s what made it work. It was managerial. If the president had just politely asked his cabinet secretaries and agency heads to do this, I don’t think it would have happened. It needed the managerial aspect for the results.

Sarah Smith: So given you were there for, I think, about two years, what was the most rewarding part of recruiting women to the federal government while you were at the White House?

Secretary Franklin: Well, the most rewarding part was the progress we made and the results and the announcement, that’s another memo that’s in the files there, the results of April 1972, the numbers of women that had been elevated in the policymaking jobs and in the mid-level GS-13 to 15 and the boards and commissions. That was the most rewarding. Actually, the system was working the way it was supposed to and we were successful.

And then the fact that this effort started to get the attention of others. I had governors coming to see me wondering, “How does this work?” And then there were others in the private sector too. That’s why I believe this effort was an example and it began to ripple around. We weren’t sitting in the White House writing legislation. But I think the president created the climate through other things like the Equal Rights Amendment that passed. It never was ratified, but the fact that it passed the Congress and the president signed it was important. There was Title IX, which was very important to education. And there were a few others things like that that happened in that era that I believe passed because what the president had done changed the atmosphere.

Sarah Smith: Could you tell us a story about the Susan B. Anthony bust?

Secretary Franklin: Oh, yes. We loved this. You know who Susan B. Anthony was, of course.

Some women’s groups, several of them, I’m thinking particularly of two, wanted to present a bust of Susan B. Anthony to the White House as a kind of symbolic gesture, important person that she was in the fight for women’s equality. So we said, “Oh, what a lovely idea.” They had one made. It was a copy of the one in the crypt of the capital.

That was in marble. This was in bronze or something metallic. She’s a pretty severe looking person in marble, but she’s really severe looking in bronze. She arrived in my office. We had gone to set up a time when she could be formally presented to the White House, presented to the First Lady, which also tells you something about the time.

Between the time she arrived and before we could set up a presentation, she lived in the closet in my office on the third floor of the Old Executive Office Building. And in the dead of night, there are times when she would land in the office of someone on the staff who had said or done something detrimental to women. That sent a message. And then of course I had to come retrieve her because I had to put her back in the closet. It was known that the spirit of Susan B. Anthony was roaming around the White House at night.

And then she did get presented, I think early in 1973. For some years after that, she stood on a pedestal at the entrance of the East Wing, which is the First Lady’s wing of the White House. I think she’s still somewhere. It would be interesting to get her to the Nixon Library.

I’ve got that on a list of mine next time I have an opportunity to say, “Where is she?”

She stood there for, I think, a good 15 years as a grand symbol.

Sarah Smith: Could you also give us a snapshot of some of the women that you recruited that went on to have careers beyond the Nixon administration?

Secretary Franklin: Yes. There was Dixy Lee Ray, who I recruited for a slot on the old Atomic Energy Commission. It’s now the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There had never been a woman there. In fact, there were very few women who would be thought to even be qualified. She was a PhD. There was a lot of biology in her background, but she definitely was qualified for this. Anyway, she was appointed.

She didn’t think I was serious either when I called her and said, “The president is looking for someone like you to be on this commission.” She said, “Are you kidding?” I caught her in an airport. She just didn’t believe it. We appointed her and she then became chairwoman after, I think the chairman was Jim Schlesinger who was moving over to Defense or some other assignment. He was very against her being made chairman. We just waited until he had left. She became elevated. The president has to appoint. A sitting commissioner can be tapped to be chairman and that’s what happened.

Then she went on to go back to her home state of Washington as a Democrat. She was an independent when we appointed her. She ran for governor and she was elected.

Another one that was a breakthrough appointment was Cynthia Holcomb Hall from Los Angeles who was a tax attorney. We were looking for a woman for the Tax Court of the United States, an important court but there had never been a woman on it. That’s an interesting story too because Cynthia was in a law firm, but so was her husband who was a tax attorney. When I first approached her, she said, “I can’t possibly come to Washington. Between us, John (her husband John) and I have six children. We just can’t leave here.”

We set about kind of a little plot. Stan Anderson was the one who was my compatriot on this. Stan was part of the White House liaison in the White House personnel shop that helped to place people in. Stan had the Treasury Department. Anyway, there was someone in Treasury who was a law school classmate of John Hall. So that person was dispatched to Los Angeles to talk to John about coming to Treasury to be the deputy assistant secretary for tax policy.

So low and behold, he thought that might be a good idea and then Cynthia believed that she could take on the Tax Court, which was seated in Washington. That’s how we got both of them. Both came to Washington. John lasted maybe for a couple of years and went back, but Cynthia then became a federal court judge on the Ninth Circuit.

She was a wonderful person, actually. And the Tax Court men gave her a very hard time. The Tax Court sits in different cities around the country. There are some places that nobody wants to go to. They sent her to all those places. She just did it and she, in effect, outweighed them and outlived them.

Another one would have been Connie Newman. I recruited her to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. The Product Safety Act passed the Congress in the fall of ’72 and it was signed by the president. There were five new presidential commission slots there. If I could get the powers that be, which meant Fred and others, to give me a shot at getting women for a job before it just all of sudden disappeared and a man was placed in it, I would do that.

In this case, I had a commitment for two women on that five-member body. There had never been two women on one of these regulatory commissions. Connie was the first one I found. One was to be a minority and one was to be someone from the private sector.

It was after that, however, I was in the process of finding that second woman. I thought I found her, actually, when the word came down to me that they wanted me to be the second woman. Long story short, that is what I did.

So those are a couple of examples. There are plenty more of women who went on not only just in governmental capacities but all over the place, I would say, or in subsequent administrations too.

Sarah Smith: Final question, what would you say is President Nixon’s legacy on women’s issues and what are the lessons learned for today’s policymakers?

Secretary Franklin: His legacy is what we said way back earlier. He, in effect, advanced the cause of equality for women by making this concerted, serious effort that was successful to advance women in the federal government and by doing that, pulled into the mainstream of American life the idea that advancing women into leadership positions or into positions that women had never held before but should have an opportunity to serve in was fine.

It was legitimate. It was the America way. I think that’s the legacy right there. The record of what happened back there stands. But I think the true legacy is broader and bigger than just the numbers of women who were appointed, many of whom went on to do bigger and better things.

And the lessons, well, the lessons learned, I think if you really want to accomplish something in the public sector, you have to have objectives. I forgot to mention that.

This effort, as part of the managerial aspect, there were objectives. The first objective in the policy area was that we were to double the number of women in these jobs in a year. Well, we tripled that number in a year. But the point is we were shooting for an objective that had a number on it.

This is something that way back in the Harvard Business School era, they used to call “management by objectives”. I think it’s probably got some other name now. That’s what it is. It’s this whole idea. You set an objective. You have a set of action plans and then you monitor progress and you reward for doing well or you chastise for not doing what you were supposed to do. That’s how these things work.

Now, that works in business too. In fact, maybe it works more simply in business than in the public sector. But the point remains that you really have to know what you want to do in the public sector and have objectives or things you want to accomplish and milestones along the way to measure progress and then you have to do it.

As George Shultz said in his book, the other thing to remember is that once you’ve done something and you thought it was settled, don’t assume it’s going to forever be settled. Sometimes you have to circle back and renew it or do it again. Some things do come unglued and do get unraveled.

In this one we’re talking about, this cause of advancing women in government, once the barriers were broken, they never were put back up. So every administration subsequent to Nixon’s, I think, did well in appointing women. So that’s not been changed and the trajectory has been up ever since.

I’m very pleased to look back and see that that’s the case too. The advancement has not been turned around in any way. We still don’t have any women in an elective office in the Executive Branch, but that’s coming. But in the appointed sphere, once the barriers came down, we have to thank President Nixon for that, they never came back up. We have to keep going, but we have been continuing in the right path. That would be my lesson.

Sarah Smith: Thank you, Secretary Franklin.

Document Archive

Primary Sources

Barbara Hackman Franklin Papers, 1953-2013

Barbara H. Franklin recorded interview by Timothy J. Naftali and Paul Musgrave, 7 March 2007, the Richard Nixon Oral History Project of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. 

Barbara H. Franklin recorded interview by Timothy J. Naftali, 26 June 2007, the Richard Nixon Oral History Project of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum. 

Representative Dwyer to the President, July 8, 1969, folder 15.22, Catherine East Papers.

Moynihan to Nixon, August 20, 1969, WHCF, Subject Files HU 2-5, Box 21, folder 1 [beginning December 31, 1969], Nixon Presidential Library.

A Matter of Simple Justice: The Report of the President’s Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities,” April 1970, Barbara Franklin Collection, box 13, folder 14, Nixon Presidential Library.

Glaser, text of speech for the Citizens’ Advisory Council on the Status of Women, February 7, 1970, folder 16.27, Catherine East Papers.

BPW press release, September 25, 1970, and letter from Leonard Garment to Lucille H. Shriver, October 6, 1970, both in folder 16.33, Catherine East Papers.

Finch to Office of the Staff Secretary, October 29, 1970, WHCF, SMOF, Finch Files, Box 28, folder Women and the Administration [1 of 2], Nixon Presidential Library.

Helen Delich Bentley, memorandum to the president, “Women in Government and the Nixon Administration,” cover memo dated October 22, 1970, Barbara Hackman Franklin Papers, Penn State University Archives, Special Collections Library, University Libraries, Box AM06.02, folder “Program Documents on Women’s Recruiting, 1970.”

Richard M. Ferry, memo to Frederic V. Malek, November 20, 1970, “Agenda for Meeting with Mesdames Catherine May, Helen Bently, and Patricia Hitt. Friday, November 20, 1970,” Barbara Hackman Franklin Papers.

Robert H. Finch, memorandum to Office of Staff Secretary, December 4, 1970, “Women and the Administration,” Barbara Hackman Franklin Papers.

Hauser to the president, copied to Mitchell, Ehrlichman, Garment, Price, and Safire, April 12, 1971, WHCF, SMOF, Finch Files, Box 29, folder Women in Government [2 of 3], Nixon Presidential Library.

White House Press Release; Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, April 21, 1971, WHCF, SMOF, Finch Files, Box 29, folder Women in Government [2 of 3], Nixon Presidential Library.

Barbara Hackman Franklin, memorandum for Robert H. Hampton, June 8, 1971, “Fact Sheet: Comparison of Appointments of Women During the Last Three Administrations,” Nixon Presidential Library.

Frederic V. Malek, memorandum for John Ehrlichman, July 14, 1971, “The Equal Rights Amendment,” Nixon Presidential Library.

President Richard Nixon, letter to Senator Hugh Scott, March 18, 1972. Nixon Presidential Library.

Anne Armstrong, “Women in Public Service,” Penn State University Library.

Vera Glaser Digital Archives

Secondary Sources

Stout, Lee. A Matter of Simple Justice: The Untold Story of Barbara Hackman Franklin and A Few Good Women. University Park, Penn.: Pennsylvania State University Libraries, 2012. 232 pages.

Kotlowski, Dean. Nixon’s Civil Rights: Politics, Principles, and Policy. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002.

Hoff, Joan. Nixon Reconsidered. New York, NY: Basic Books, 1995.

Nixon Speaks Out: Major Speeches and Statements by Richard M. Nixon in the Presidential Campaign of 1968. New York, NY: Nixon-Agnew Campaign Committee, 1968.

Nixon on the Issues. New York, NY: Nixon-Agnew Campaign Committee, 1968.