Ed. note: This is cross-posted from Treasury Notes.
While the fields of economics and finance continue to be heavily represented by men, Treasury’s history reminds us that women have been, and continue to be, important leaders in shaping economic policy. This is particularly noteworthy at a moment in U.S. history when the rules of the financial sector are being rewritten and technology is changing the way our economy functions.
Women’s History Month is a time to recognize these achievements and to consider how far we have come from an era when women were not afforded the training or opportunities to serve their nation in this capacity. President Obama’s Administration has set the record for the most women serving in Senate-confirmed positions at the Treasury Department since its establishment in 1789.
Today, seven key positions at Treasury are held by women, including:
These women are part of a long tradition of women serving their country in various roles at the Treasury Department. The first woman to hold a Senate-confirmed position at Treasury was Josephine Roche under President Roosevelt in the 1930s. Roche served as Assistant Secretary of Public Health, which was housed in Treasury until 1939. Bette Anderson was the first woman to serve as an Under Secretary for Administration and Enforcement Operations at Treasury (1977-1981), appointed by President Carter. There have also been three female General Counsels of Treasury since the office was created in 1934: Edith Holiday (1988-1990), Jeanne Archibald (1990-1992), and Jean Hansen (1993-1994). Edith Holiday was later appointed Secretary to the President’s Cabinet under President Bush.
I feel privileged to work with and learn from all of the talented women, serving at all levels, within the Department. I would be remiss to exclude the accomplished men working at Treasury, who along with their female colleagues, have served as champions of, and mentors to, women in this field.
Today, we celebrate this record number of women at Treasury. But I hope that soon, we can stop counting altogether.
Many thanks to Abby Gilbert at the U.S. Mint for her help in compiling this list and her diligent attention to preserving Treasury’s history.
Kate Harris is a Policy Advisor and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions at the United States Department of the Treasury.