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The Contemporary Presidency: Gender Desegregation and Gender Integration in the President's Cabinet, 1933-2010


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: I thank James P. Pfiffner and Michelle Taylor-Robinson for their comments on earlier versionsof this article.

MaryAnne Borrelli is an associate professor of government at Connecticut College. She is the author of The President's Cabinet: Gender, Power, and Representation.


This article studies the political credentials of the women and men nominated to serve as departmental executives, assessing the extent to which women have been marginalized in the president's cabinet. Although gender differences within cabinets of the modern presidency vary widely, they range along a continuum from gender resegregation to gender desegregation to gender integration. The cabinet is shown to have undergone gender desegregation, and sometimes gender resegregation, prior to the Bill Clinton administration, when there was a slight but significant shift toward gender integration. This increased during the George W. Bush years. Initial cabinet appointments by Barack Obama suggest that gender integration will continue, and even accelerate, in this administration.