Only three vacancies remain in President-elect Barack Obama’s Cabinet, and women have been appointed to only four of the filled positions, which is less than even President Clinton’s appointees in 1992 and equal to President Bush’s appointees in 2000.
“Women’s groups who have been hoping for an historic breakthrough in the numbers of women and feminists in the cabinet are looking at a Cabinet now that has lower numbers of women than the Clinton Administration,” said Feminist Majority Foundation President Eleanor Smeal. “With only three Cabinet positions remaining, the women’s groups are pushing ahead not only for more women in the Cabinet, but for more women to be appointed to the thousands of plum jobs that are available. A number of groups have formed a Feminist Appointment Wiki Project to make sure that more strong women and feminist names are put forth.”
Ellen Malcolm, the president and founder of Emily’s List, told the Washington Post that Obama “obviously started off with a bang, with Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice…we’ve been disappointed to see women suggested for some positions and not chosen.”
Women’s groups are also very concerned about the economic recovery package, which so far is specifying the creation of jobs primarily in the construction industries, which under-represent women. Smeal commented that “we are also alarmed that the key components of the economic recovery package revealed to the public are emphasizing construction jobs, which notoriously under-represent women workers. Although we support a physical infrastructure stimulus package, we believe it must be accompanied with a human infrastructure component that will employ a majority of women workers. With women nearly half of the workforce, a successful stimulus package must include jobs that will employ significant numbers of women and men.”