The Presidency and Women

Promise, Performance, and Illusion

978-1-58544-245-4 Cloth
6 x 9 x 0 in
368 pp. 10 tables., 13 boxes.
Pub Date: 05/20/2003


2004 Richard Neustadt Book Award, presented by the Presidency Research Group of the American Political Science Association
Although no woman has yet served as president of the United States, women have played important roles within the executive branch—and they have found many ways to exert pressure on the president. In this imaginative and illuminating work, presidential scholar Janet M. Martin studies the influence of women on and in the American executive branch.

During the Kennedy administration, the President’s Commission on the Status of Women (1962) and the passage of the Equal Pay Act (1963) were milestones in the history of the relationship between women and the executive branch. The growing participation of women in the political process throughout the twentieth century had made the inclusion of women—or at least the appearance of such inclusion—in the decision-making processes in the White House a political imperative for the Kennedy administration and for all the presidents who have followed.

The Presidency and Women offers a sophisticated understanding of the functioning of the nation’s largest interest group and insight into the nation’s most visible office. Martin studies in detail the presidencies of Kennedy through Carter. She demonstrates both the substantive growth in women’s involvement in policy making and the political showcasing of women appointees, which has led to an ongoing illusion of even greater change. Her analysis provides insight into the day-to-day interactions between the White House and outside groups, the outside political pressures for certain policy agendas, and the internal White House dynamics in response to those pressures.

This book weaves the actions of presidents, their White House staff, and others in government with the actions of women and women’s organizations. The result is a longitudinal political narrative of the presidency and women from 1961 to 1981, with a focus on domestic policy and the departments and agencies relating to that policy.

Joseph V. Hughes Jr. and Holly O. Hughes Series on the Presidency and Leadership

Published by Texas A&M University Press