APRIL 1, 1948
EN ROUTE TO ENGLAND, Wednesday—A number of women's organizations have written to me of late, suggesting that it might be possible to bring before the men in high places in various governments the idea that the time has come to appoint more women in policymaking positions.
I cannot speak for the women of other nations because I am not familiar with their situations, but I think that in the United States, before we make demands upon the men, we women should bestir ourselves in our own behalf. I have never forgotten how badly many women's organizations treated former Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins. They did not really find out whether she had done good work in her Cabinet post. They joined the hue and cry raised by certain newspapers and interested groups, and many of them condemned her without really understanding what she had accomplished. She had accomplished a great deal but it was unpopular to come to her defense—and more unpopular with the ladies than with the gentlemen!
I doubt whether many women of my age would want to run for elective office, but we should urge younger women to do so in greater numbers—and they should get the support of women. Both the major political parties should have united groups within each party insisting that women be given a chance to run for office in districts where they stand a chance of election. And there should be much more alert interest shown by women's organizations in the possible positions to which women might be appointed.
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Some years ago, a conference called in the White House compiled a list as tangible evidence of available women, and sent it to the State Department. The list gave the names and qualifications of a great many women in a variety of fields. There is no dearth of able women. But, for the most part, they are overlooked.
It was quite typical to find in a magazine not long ago the photographs of a number of men who were "creators." There were also photographs of a very substantial group of women, but they were labeled "research specialists." In other words, they served as handmaidens to the creators. But as I looked at their faces, I felt that there might be creative ability among these women, too. Most women do not use up all of their creative ability in child bearing and rearing.
At the present time, when there is so much clamor and fear of war all about us, many people have written to me of their conviction that women could contribute much in the way of imagination and effort to prevent war. It is a mistake to feel that women are just "softies." A woman can be as practical and as tough as a man, but her values are set in the preservation of the life which she has created. So, men and women, let's get busy and see if a little more feminine influence might improve our world situation.