Fact Sheet on Women Government Appointees

(Click here to return to the article.) “Firsts” in Women’s Appointments HistoryThe first woman to be appointed to a cabinet position was FrancesPerkins, who served as Secretary of Labor under Presidents Rooseveltand Truman. She held the position for 12 years. Under her direction minimumwage standards and legislation to improve working conditions were writteninto law.Oveta Culp Hobby served as the first woman appointed to Secretaryof Health, Education and Welfare from 1953 to 1955 under President Eisenhower.The first black woman presidential appointee was Mary McLeod Bethune,who founded the National Council of Negro Women. President Roosevelt appointedher head of the Office of Minority Affairs in 1935.The first woman of color to be appointed to a cabinet-level position wasPatricia Harris, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Developmentand Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare under President Carter.In 1997, under President Clinton’s administration, Aida Alvarez becamethe first Hispanic woman to hold a cabinet-level position as Administratorof the Small Business Administration, while Madeleine K. Albrightbecame the first female Secretary of State and the highest-ranking womanin the U.S. government. Furthermore, in 1993, Clinton named Janet RenoAttorney General.