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Political Appointees in the United States: Does Gender Make a Difference?

  • Julie Dolan (a1)

Information about women who hold appointive office is a neglected area.

–Eileen Shanahan, former Assistant Secretary, HEWEileen Shanahan, former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at HEW, quoted in Carroll and Geiger-Parker, 1983.

With every new presidential administration in the United States, the incoming president is in charge of appointing thousands of individuals to work throughout the executive branch of government and assist him in fulfilling his constitutional responsibility to “faithfully execute the laws of the Nation” (Pfiffner 1996). When the Center of American Women and Politics (CAWP) first began studying female political appointees in the early 1980s, very few women had ever served in Cabinet positions or other high-ranking executive positions within the federal government. In fact, in 1977, almost two hundred years after the founding of the United States, President Carter appointed only the fourth and fifth women ever to serve as Cabinet Secretaries (CAWP 1998). As Carroll and Geiger-Parker note in the introduction to the very first study of female political appointees, “for the first time in history, women had been appointed in large enough numbers to survey and to compare with other appointees” (1983a, ix).

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PS: Political Science & Politics
  • ISSN: 1049-0965
  • EISSN: 1537-5935
  • URL: /core/journals/ps-political-science-and-politics
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