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Women in the Cabinet: 1932–2003

As new issues arise, or old issues are redefined, the demand for presidential-level commissions has recurred: In 1970, President Nixon appointed the President’s Task Force on Women’s Rights and Responsibilities; in 1975, President Ford assembled a bipartisan commission to direct U.S. observance of International Women’s Year (IWY); and in 1978, President Carter established the National Advisory Committee for Women (NACW). Becoming a member of one of these commissions can place a woman in a very strategic position for influencing the political process. Although commissions don’t have the decision-making power of legislatures, commission members are free to concentrate exclusively on a women’s rights agenda, whereas elected officials have to balance a number of competing demands. Commissions can be like strong interest groups inside the government. Of course, to be effective they have to mobilize political resources just like any other political actor.