Women in Presidential Cabinets

48 women have held a total of 54 cabinet or cabinet-level positions in our nation’s history. 31 of these women were appointed by Democratic presidents and 17 by Republicans. Ten presidents – 4 Democrats and 6 Republicans – have appointed women to their cabinets. 7 women currently serve in the Obama administration in cabinet or cabinet-level positions. Donald Trump has thus far nominated two women – Gov. Nikki Haley and Betsey DeVos – to serve in cabinet or cabinet-level positions.

The Women in Cabinet and Cabinet-Level Positions

*Biographical information provided by Center for American Women and Politics*

*Note: list also includes women who have served in an acting capacity.

  1. Frances Perkins – Secretary of Labor, 1933-45: Perkins, the first woman to serve in a president’s cabinet, had a long background of labor-related public service, including serving as Industrial Commissioner in New York State. She was one of only two people to remain in the cabinet throughout FDR’s presidency, helping to draft and implement much of the New Deal legislation. She remained in office briefly after Roosevelt’s death and later became a member of the Civil Service Commission under President Truman.
  2. Oveta Culp Hobby –  Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare, 1953-55: Hobby was named head of the Federal Security Administration; when that agency became part of the newly-established Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), she became the first Secretary of HEW. She had been a colonel in the Women’s Army Corps during World War II and had served as president of the Texas League of Women Voters.
  3. Anne Armstrong – Counselor to the President, 1973-74: Armstrong was a Republican Party activist, co-chairing the Republican National Committee from 1971 to 1973 and keynoting the party’s convention in 1972. As counselor to the President with cabinet rank, she established the Office for Women’s Programs.
  4. Carla Anderson Hills – Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1975-77; Special Trade Representative 4, 1989-1993; she served as assistant attorney general in the Ford administration before her appointment as Housing and Urban Development secretary. Prior to her appointment to the Bush administration, she chaired the board of the Urban Institute while practicing law in Washington.
  5. Patricia R. Harris –  Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 1977-79; Secretary of Health and Human Services 1979-81: Harris was the first black woman to serve in a presidential cabinet and the first woman to hold two different cabinet posts. An attorney and longtime Democratic party activist, she had taught law, served on corporate boards, and served as Ambassador to Luxembourg under President Johnson.
  6. Juanita A. Kreps – Secretary of Commerce, 1977-79: Kreps was the first economist to serve as Secretary of Commerce. She had been a professor and vice president at Duke University and had served on several corporate boards and on the board of the New York Stock Exchange prior to her appointment by President Carter.
  7. Shirley M. Hufstedler – Secretary of Education, 1979-81: An attorney, Hufstedler was the first person to head the newly-created Department of Education. She had been a federal judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and returned to practicing law when the Carter administration ended.
  8.  Jeane J. Kirkpatrick – United Nations Ambassador, 1981-85 1: A political scientist, Kirkpatrick taught at Georgetown University before joining the Reagan administration. A Democrat at the time of her appointment, she later switched parties. She wrote one of the earliest books about women and politics, Political Woman, based on information gathered at CAWP’s first Conference for Women State Legislators.
  9. Margaret M. Heckler – Secretary of Health and Human Services, 1983-85: Heckler was a member of Congress (1967- 83) representing suburban Boston and lost a re-election bid when redistricting forced her to run against another incumbent Congressman. Her cabinet service ended when President Reagan appointed her Ambassador to Ireland.
  10. Elizabeth H. Dole – Secretary of Transportation, 1983-87; Secretary of Labor, 1989-90: An attorney, Dole served as a White House aide in the Johnson and Reagan administrations and was appointed by President Nixon to the Federal Trade Commission. She left her Reagan administration cabinet post to work for the presidential campaign of her husband, Kansas Senator Robert Dole. She was appointed Secretary of Labor by President Bush.
  11. Anne Dore McClaughlin – Secretary of Labor, 1987-89: McLaughlin worked in a variety of communications-related posts within and outside the government before becoming a cabinet member. She held two sub-cabinet posts in the Reagan administration: Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Public Affairs and Undersecretary of Interior.
  12. Lynn Morley Martin – Secretary of Labor, 1991-93: Martin represented northwestern Illinois in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1981to 1991. She was the first woman to achieve an elective leadership post in the House, vice chair of the House Republican Conference. Prior to serving in the House she had served on the Winnebago County board and in both houses of the Illinois State Legislature. Martin lost a bid for a U.S. Senate seat in 1990.
  13. Barbara H. Franklin – Secretary of Commerce, 1992-93: Franklin was one of the first women to graduate from Harvard Business School. As an international trade and governmental management expert, Franklin held several non- cabinet-level appointed positions during the Nixon and Reagan administrations prior to her appointment as Secretary of Commerce by President Bush.
  14. Hazel R. O’Leary – Secretary of Energy, 1993-97: Prior to her appointment, O’Leary was the executive vice president of Northern States Power in Minneapolis, Minnesota. O’Leary also served as a senior energy policy advisor in the Carter and Ford administrations.
  15. Madeleine K. Albright – Secretary of State, 1997-2001; United Nations Ambassador, 1993-97 1: Albright is the first woman to serve as secretary of state and the highest ranking woman in the U.S. government. Before her appointment to the State Department, she served as U.N. Ambassador from 1993 to 1997. Prior to her service in government, she was president of the Center for National Policy. She was also a research professor of International Affairs and the director of Women in Foreign Service at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.
  16. Janet Reno – Attorney General, 1993-2001: As the first woman to serve as attorney general, Reno heads the Justice Department. Prior to her appointment, she served as the state prosecutor of Dade County, Florida. Reno previously was an associate and partner in several law firms, worked for the state prosecutor’s office, and was a staff director to the Florida House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.
  17. Carol M. Browner – Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, 1993-2001 5: Prior to her appointment, she was secretary of the Florida State Department of Environmental Regulation. Browner previously served as legislative director for then-U.S. Senator Al Gore.
  18. Donna E. Shalala – Secretary of Health and Human Services, 1993-2001: Prior to joining the Clinton administration, Shalala was Chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a professor of political science. She served as assistant secretary for policy development in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during the Carter administration.
  19. Cassandra M. Pulley – Deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), where she was responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the U.S. government agency charged with ensuring the growth and development of small businesses. Prior to the SBA, Pulley was president of Business Strategies International, Inc., a consulting firm she established to assist small firms in developing business in international markets. She was a vice president at American International Group (AIG) in the export insurance and trade finance areas and managed the Exporters Insurance Program and the Direct Loan Program at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC). Pulley began her business career in commercial banking at Mellon Bank in Pittsburgh, PA.
  20. Alice M. Rivlin – Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1994-96 9: Prior to her appointment as director, Rivlin was its deputy director since 1993. She was the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office. She served as a Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Studies at the Brookings Institution. Rivlin also served as Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.
  21. Laura D’Andrea Tyson – Chair, National Economic Council, 1995-97 8: Prior to Tyson’s appointment, she was chair of the Council of Economic Advisors.7 Tyson was a professor of economics and business administration and director of the Institute of International Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
  22. Ginger Lew – Under the Clinton Administration, Ms. Lew was the Deputy Administrator and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Small Business Administration where she provided day to day management and operational oversight of a $42 billion loan portfolio. Before joining SBA, Ms. Lew was the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Commerce where she specialized in international trade issues. Ms. Lew was unanimously confirmed by the United State Senate for both positions.
  23. Janet L. Yellen – Chair, Council of Economic Advisers, 1997-99: Prior to her nomination as chair to the Council of Economic Advisers, Yellen served since her appointment by President Clinton in 1994 as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. In 1977 to 1978, she served as an economist with the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. Yellen taught at the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley. She was appointed in 2014 as chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
  24. Aida Alvarez – Administrator, Small Business Administration, 1997-2001 2: Alvarez is the first Hispanic woman and the first person of Puerto Rican heritage to hold a position in a president’s cabinet. Prior to her appointment as administrator, Alvarez directed the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO). Before her service in Washington, DC, she was a Wall Street investment banker, television journalist and president of the largest municipal health care system — the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation.
  25. Charlene Barshefsky – U. S. Trade Representative, 1997-2001: Prior to her nomination as the U.S. Trade Representative, Barshefsky served as Acting U.S. Trade Representative since April 1996. She served as the Deputy U.S. Trade Representative from 1993 to 1996. Before coming to government service, she was a partner in a Washington, D.C. law firm specializing in international trade law and policy.
  26. Alexis Herman – Secretary of Labor, 1997-2001: Prior to her appointment to the Department of Labor, Herman served as assistant to President Clinton and director of the White House public liaison office. In the Carter Administration, she served as director of the Women’s Bureau at the Department of Labor. Before joining the Clinton White House, she was founder and president of A.M. Herman & Associates, where she advised state and local governments.
  27. Janice R. Lachance – Director, Office of Personnel Management, 1997-2001: Prior to her appointment to the Office of Personnel Management, Lachance served as OPM’s director of Communication. An attorney, she has served as director of communications and political affairs for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFLCIO); served as communications director in the office of Senator Tom Daschle; administrative assistant to Congresswoman Katie Hall. She was also part of the Clinton-Gore transition team.
  28. Christine Todd Whitman – Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, 2001-03: Whitman was the first female former governor to serve in a presidential cabinet. Prior to being appointed, she was the first woman elected governor in New Jersey, where she served two terms. For two years she headed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. She began her political career as a freeholder (New Jersey’s equivalent of a county commissioner) on the Somerset County Board of Freeholders.
  29. Susan Livingstone – is a former Acting U.S. Secretary of the Navy in the George W. Bush administration from January-February 2003. She was the first woman to become Secretary of the Navy in U.S. history. Livingstone played a role in the effort to end coercive and abusive interrogation tactics at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. At the time, as Under Secretary of the Navy, Livingstone oversaw a large management portfolio, which included lawyers in the Navy General Counsel’s office and investigators at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service who raised concerns about the treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base.
  30. Ann Veneman – Secretary of Agriculture, 2001-05: Veneman is the first woman to serve as Secretary of Agriculture. Prior to her appointment, she was the first woman to serve as Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. During the Bush administration, she was deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the highest ranking woman ever at USDA. She also served as deputy undersecretary of agriculture for international affairs and commodity programs. During the Reagan administration, she was the associate administrator for the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Before joining the Bush administration, she was a partner with the law firm Nossaman, Gunther, Knox & Elliot.
  31. Gale Norton – Secretary of the Interior, 2001-06: Norton is the first woman to serve as Secretary of the Interior. Prior to her appointment, she was the first woman to be elected Colorado’s attorney general, where she served for two full terms. She is the founder of the Council of Republicans for Environmental Advocacy. In 1996, she made an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. Senate seat. During the Reagan administration, she worked for two years for the Department of the Interior. As an attorney, she began her legal career at the Mountain States Legal Foundation.
  32. Elaine Chao – Secretary of Labor, 2001-2009: Chao is the first Asian-American woman to serve in a presidential cabinet. Prior to her appointment, she was senior editor and distinguished fellow at the Heritage Foundation. She has been both president of the United Way and director of the Peace Corps. During the first Bush administration, Chao was deputy secretary of the Department of Transportation. During the latter part of the Reagan administration, she served as deputy administrator of the Federal Maritime Administration.
  33. Anne W. Patterson – Served as acting Ambassador to the United Nations under the George W. Bush administration. She is a career diplomat, who currently serves as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
  34.  Margaret Spellings – Secretary of Education, 2005-09: Prior to her appointment, Spellings was assistant to the President for domestic policy. Before her White House appointment, she worked for six years as Governor George W. Bush’s senior advisor with responsibility for education policy.
  35. Condoleezza Rice – Secretary of State, 2005-09: Prior to being appointed Secretary of State, Rice served as national security advisor from 2001 to 2005. Before that, she was a tenured professor at Stanford University. In 1993, she became the first woman and African American to be appointed provost of Stanford, a post in which she served for six years. During the first Bush administration, she rose from director to senior director for the National Security Council on Soviet and East European Affairs. She began her academic career as a fellow in the arms control and disarmament program at Stanford.
  36. Lynn Scarlett – Served as Acting Secretary of the Interior under both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.
  37. Christina D. Romer – Chair, Council of Economic Advisers, 2009-10 7: Romer, an economic historian, taught at University of California, Berkeley since 1988, and became a full professor in 1993. She taught at Princeton University from 1985 to 1988. In addition, she was co-director of the Program in Monetary Economics at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a former vice president of the American Economic Association.
  38. Hilda Solis – Secretary of Labor, 2009-2013: Prior to her appointment, Solis was a U.S. Representative from California. From 1993 to 2001 she served first as a state assemblywoman and then as a state senator. She was an assistant in the White House Office of Hispanic Affairs under President Jimmy Carter and served as a budget analyst for federal office of Personnel Management in the Reagan administration.
  39. Susan E. Rice – Ambassador to the United Nations, 2009-2013 1: Rice served as a senior policy analyst to the Obama-Biden campaign. She served in the Clinton administration in various capacities: at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1997; as director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping from 1993 to 1995; and as special assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs from 1995 to 1997. She served as a foreign policy aide to Michael Dukakis during his 1988 presidential campaign. In the early 1990’s she was a consultant for the global management consulting firm of McKinsey and Company. She left the U.N. post to become President Clinton’s national security adviser.
  40. Lisa Jackson – Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, 2009-2013 5: Jackson served as chief of staff to New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine briefly at the end of 2008. She was commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection from 2006 to 2008, after working there since 2002. Prior to that she had spent 16 years with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  41. Hillary Rodham Clinton – Secretary of State, 2009-2013: Prior to her appointment, Clinton was U.S. Senator from New York from 2001 to 2008. She was a presidential candidate in 2008 and 2016 and was first lady from 1993 to 2000. Prior to her governmental service, she was a partner in an Arkansas law firm from 1979 to 1992.
  42. Janet Napolitano – 

    Secretary of Homeland Security, 2009-2013: Prior to her appointment, Napolitano served as governor of Arizona. She was Arizona’s elected attorney general from 1998 to 2002. Prior to that she served as U.S. Attorney and as a federal prosecutor.

  43. Kathleen Sebelius – Secretary of Health and Human Services, 2009-2014: Prior to her appointment, Sebelius was governor of Kansas from 2003 to 2009. From 1995 to 2003, she served as Kansas insurance commissioner. She served in the Kansas House of Representatives from 1987 to 1994. She worked in the Kansas Department of Corrections and served on the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
  44. Rebecca Blank – Acting Secretary of Commerce under the Barack Obama’s administration. She became chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in July 2013.
  45. Karen G. Mills – Administrator, Small Business Administration, 2012-2013: Initially appointed in 2009; SBA was later elevated to cabinet-level status. She served as chair of the Maine Council on Competitiveness and the Economy.
  46. Miriam Sapiro – Acting U.S. Trade representative under the Barack Obama Administration
  47. Rosemary DiCarlo – Acting U.N. Ambassador under the Barack Obama Administration.
  48. Slyvia Mathews Burwell – Director, Office of Management and Budget, 2013-2014; Secretary of Health and Human Services, 2014-present: Prior to her appointment, Burwell was president of the Walmart Foundation. Earlier, she served as president of the Global Development Program of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. From 1998 to 2001, Burwell was deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget.
  49. Sally Jewel – Secretary of Interior, 2013-present: In 1996, after working in the banking industry for twenty years, Jewell joined the board of REI; she was named chief operating officer in 2000, and became CEO in 2005. Jewell has served on the boards of Premera, the National Parks Conservation Association, and the University of Washington Board of Regents. Prior to her appointment, Jewell received the National Audubon Society’s Rachel Carson Award for her leadership in and dedication to conservation.
  50. Penny Pritzker – Secretary of Commerce, 2013-present: Prior to her appointment, Pritzker served on the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board and was appointed to the President’s Council for Jobs and Competitiveness. She was the founder, chairman and CEO of PSP Capital Partners and Pritzker Reality Group, as well as co-founder and chairman of Artemis Real Estate Partners.
  51. Gina McCarthy – Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency, 2013-present: Prior to her appointment, McCarthy served as the assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. From 2004 to 2009 she was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection. McCarthy served as an environmental advisor to five Massachusetts governors.
  52. Samantha Power – Ambassador to the United Nations, 2013-present: Power was a senior adviser to Senator Barack Obama early in his presidential campaign. She joined Obama’s State Department transition team in November 2008, and was named Special Assistant to President Obama and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights on the National Security Council. From 1998-2002, Power was a professor at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the founding executive director of the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.
  53. Maria Contreras-Sweet – Administrator, Small Business Administration, 2014-present: Prior to her appointment, Contreras-Sweet served as secretary of California’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency from 1999 to 2003.
  54. Loretta Lynch – Attorney General, 2105-present: Lynch was appointed by President Clinton as U.S. Attorney for Eastern District of New York. She served as a board member of the Federal Reserve Board.

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