Obama's cabinet has no more women than Bush's, and less than Clinton's. So much for diversity in the work place.
Perhaps the plummest appointment in President-elect Barack Obama's Cabinet went to a woman: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was nominated for secretary of state. But his track record on picking women for his Cabinet is no different from that of the two presidents who preceded him. With his 20-member Cabinet nearly filled, Obama has tapped four women -- Clinton, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (homeland security secretary), New Jersey official Lisa P. Jackson (head of the Environmental Protection Agency) and Susan E. Rice (U.N. ambassador) -- and women's advocates are clamoring anew for the president-elect to nominate more.
At the start of his first term, President Bush nominated four women to his Cabinet. Bill Clinton had five women in his Cabinet at the start of his presidency, and George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan each had two, according to research conducted by New York University's Wagner School of Public Service in partnership with The Washington Post.
"So far the numbers of women don't look great," Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said of Obama's picks. "George Bush started off with this many, and Bill Clinton, at the height of his presidency, had nine out of 19."
Ellen Malcolm, president and founder of Emily's List, said Obama "obviously started off with a bang, with Janet Napolitano, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice." She added: "We've been disappointed to see women suggested for some positions and not chosen."
So where could Obama place more female candidates? Only three Cabinet positions remain open, and all bets are that a woman could land at the Labor Department, where the two leading contenders are Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (D) and Mary Beth Maxwell, the founding executive director of American Rights at Work, a pro-union advocacy group.
Granholm, who is serving her second term, is rumored to be itching for a one-way ride out of Michigan. But asked yesterday whether Granholm would take a position in the administration, spokeswoman Megan Brown said only that she "is looking forward to serving as governor of Michigan with a partner in the White House."
Maxwell, a longtime outspoken advocate for labor unions and blue-collar workers, has the enthusiastic backing of David E. Bonior, the former Michigan congressman and House Democratic whip who is believed to have been Obama's top choice for the job before he took himself out of the running. Maxwell would become the first openly gay member of Obama's Cabinet. (Nancy Sutley, also openly gay, was appointed to chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which is not Cabinet-level.)