List of female United States Cabinet members

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Madeline Albright wearing a dark blouse and coat, with an eagle badge on her left shoulder
Condoleezza Rice wearing a dark blue jacket over a patterned blouse. The United States flag is in the background.
Hillary Clinton wearing a dark jacket over an orange blouse. The United States flag is in the background.
Madeleine Albright (left), Condoleezza Rice (center), and Hillary Clinton (right) are the highest-ranking women to lead the Federal Executive Department; each held the post of Secretary of State.

The Cabinet of the United States has had 37 women appointed officers serving as secretaries of one or more of the United States federal executive departments and 30 women as Cabinet-level officials; with three of them appointed at the helm of the different departments, while four served both as Cabinet and Cabinet-rank officeholders. The vice president historically is also part of the presidential cabinet, ready to assume the Presidency should the need arise; one woman was elected to the position. No woman held a Cabinet position before the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1920, which prohibits states and the federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote because of that citizen's sex.[1]

Frances Perkins was the first woman to serve in the Cabinet; she was appointed secretary of labor in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[2] Perkins remained in office briefly after Harry S. Truman assumed presidency upon Roosevelt's death, becoming the first woman to hold the same post under separate administrations. Patricia Roberts Harris was the first African American woman and woman of color to serve in the Cabinet when appointed secretary of housing and urban development in 1977 under President Jimmy Carter.[3] Two years later, Harris became the first woman to hold two different Cabinet positions during a single administration serving as secretary of health, education, and welfare before the department split in 1979; the position was renamed in 1980 as secretary of health and human services when its education functions were transferred under the supervision of the newly established secretary of education.[4][3] Elizabeth Dole was the first woman to have served in two different Cabinet posts for two different administrations. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as secretary of transportation in 1983 and was secretary of labor during the tenure of George H. W. Bush—Reagan's successor.[5][6] Czechoslovakia-born Madeleine Albright became the first foreign-born woman to serve in the Cabinet; she was appointed secretary of state in 1997 by President Bill Clinton. Albright was the highest-ranking woman in any U.S. presidential administration to that time.[7][a] Elaine Chao was the first woman naturalized as a U.S. citizen to attain two different Cabinet positions in two different administrations.[6] She was appointed by President George W. Bush as secretary of labor in 2001 and later chosen secretary of transportation by President Donald Trump. Chao also the first Asian American woman to serve in a president’s cabinet.[6]

Condoleezza Rice was appointed secretary of state in 2005 and thus became the highest-ranking woman in the United States presidential line of succession in the country's history.[8][9] On January 4, 2007, Nancy Pelosi replaced Rice as the highest-ranking woman in line when she was elected speaker of the House.[10][9] On January 20, 2021, Kamala Harris overtook Pelosi and became the highest-ranking woman in the line of succession when she was inaugurated as vice president.[11][12]

In 2021, President Joe Biden named five women as secretaries to his initial Cabinet—former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as secretary of the treasury, U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-NM) as secretary of the interior, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo as secretary of commerce, U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH) as secretary of housing and urban development, and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as secretary of energy; exceeding by one the record set by President Barack Obama.[13] However, Obama still holds record for most appointed women to Cabinet positions with eight, the most during any presidency, surpassing George W. Bush's previous number of six.

The Department of Labor has had the most women secretaries with seven.[14] The Department of Health and Human Services has had five; the department of Commerce have had four; the departments of Education, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, State, and Transportation have had three; the departments of Energy, Homeland Security, and Justice have had two; the departments of Agriculture and Treasury have had one.[14] The former Department of Health, Education, and Welfare also had two women secretaries.[14] The departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are the only existing Cabinet departments that have not had women secretaries yet.

Totals for this list include only women presidential appointees confirmed (if necessary) by the United States Senate to cabinet or cabinet-level positions; they do not include acting officials or nominees awaiting confirmation.

Female vice presidents[edit]

Numerical order represents the seniority of the Officer in the United States presidential line of succession.[12]

 *  denotes the first female vice president
# Name Position Year elected
or appointed
Party Administration Ref.
1 Kamala Harris* Vice President 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [11]

Female Cabinet secretaries[edit]

Current departments[edit]

Secretary of Labor Frances Perkins was the first woman to hold a Cabinet position.
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Patricia Roberts Harris was the first African American woman to serve in the Cabinet.
Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao was the first Asian American woman to serve in the Cabinet.
Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland was the first Native American woman to serve in the Cabinet.

Numerical order represents the seniority of the Secretaries in the United States presidential line of succession.[12]

 *  denotes the first female secretary of that particular department
# Name Position Year
appointed
Party Administration Ref.
4 Madeleine Albright*[a] Secretary of State 1997 Democratic Bill Clinton [15]
4 Condoleezza Rice Secretary of State 2005 Republican George W. Bush [16]
4 Hillary Clinton Secretary of State 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [17]
5 Janet Yellen* Secretary of the Treasury 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [18]
6  —[b] Secretary of Defense  —[b]  —[b]  —[b]  —
7 Janet Reno* Attorney General 1993 Democratic Bill Clinton [19]
7 Loretta Lynch Attorney General 2015 Democratic Barack Obama [20]
8 Gale Norton* Secretary of the Interior 2001 Republican George W. Bush [21]
8 Sally Jewell[a] Secretary of the Interior 2013 Democratic Barack Obama [22]
8 Deb Haaland Secretary of the Interior 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [23]
9 Ann Veneman* Secretary of Agriculture 2001 Republican George W. Bush [24]
10 Juanita M. Kreps* Secretary of Commerce 1977 Democratic Jimmy Carter [25]
10 Barbara Franklin Secretary of Commerce 1992 Republican George H. W. Bush [26]
10 Penny Pritzker Secretary of Commerce 2013 Democratic Barack Obama [27]
10 Gina Raimondo Secretary of Commerce 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [28]
11 Frances Perkins* Secretary of Labor 1933 Democratic Franklin D. Roosevelt [29]
Harry S. Truman
11 Ann Dore McLaughlin Secretary of Labor 1987 Republican Ronald Reagan [30]
11 Elizabeth Dole Secretary of Labor 1989 Republican George H. W. Bush [31]
11 Lynn Morley Martin Secretary of Labor 1991 Republican George H. W. Bush [32]
11 Alexis Herman Secretary of Labor 1997 Democratic Bill Clinton [33]
11 Elaine Chao[a] Secretary of Labor 2001 Republican George W. Bush [34]
11 Hilda Solis Secretary of Labor 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [35]
12 Patricia Roberts Harris* Secretary of Health and Human Services 1980 Democratic Jimmy Carter [3]
12 Margaret Heckler Secretary of Health and Human Services 1983 Republican Ronald Reagan [36]
12 Donna Shalala Secretary of Health and Human Services 1993 Democratic Bill Clinton [37]
12 Kathleen Sebelius Secretary of Health and Human Services 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [38]
12 Sylvia Mathews Burwell Secretary of Health and Human Services 2014 Democratic Barack Obama [39]
13 Carla Anderson Hills* Secretary of Housing and Urban Development 1975 Republican Gerald Ford [40]
13 Patricia Roberts Harris Secretary of Housing and Urban Development 1977 Democratic Jimmy Carter [3]
13 Marcia Fudge Secretary of Housing and Urban Development 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [41]
14 Elizabeth Dole* Secretary of Transportation 1983 Republican Ronald Reagan [42]
14 Mary Peters Secretary of Transportation 2006 Republican George W. Bush [43]
14 Elaine Chao[a] Secretary of Transportation 2017 Republican Donald Trump [44]
15 Hazel R. O'Leary* Secretary of Energy 1993 Democratic Bill Clinton [45]
15 Jennifer Granholm[a] Secretary of Energy 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [46]
16 Shirley Hufstedler* Secretary of Education 1979 Democratic Jimmy Carter [47]
16 Margaret Spellings Secretary of Education 2005 Republican George W. Bush [48]
16 Betsy DeVos Secretary of Education 2017 Republican Donald Trump [49]
17  —[c] Secretary of Veterans Affairs  —[c]  —[c]  —[c]  —
18 Janet Napolitano* Secretary of Homeland Security 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [50]
18 Kirstjen Nielsen Secretary of Homeland Security 2017 Republican Donald Trump [51]

Former departments[edit]

The departments are listed in order of their establishment.

 *  denotes the first female secretary of that particular department
# Name Position Year
appointed
Party Administration Ref.
1  —[d] Secretary of War  —[d]  —[d]  —[d]  —
2  —[e] Postmaster General  —[e]  —[e]  —[e]  —
3  —[f] Secretary of the Navy  —[f]  —[f]  —[f]  —
4  —[g] Secretary of Commerce and Labor  —[g]  —[g]  —[g]  —
5  —[h] Secretary of the Army  —[h]  —[h]  —[h]  —
6  —[i] Secretary of the Air Force  —[i]  —[i]  —[i]  —
7 Oveta Culp Hobby* Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare 1953 Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower [52]
7 Patricia Roberts Harris Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare 1979 Democratic Jimmy Carter [3]

Women who have held Cabinet-level positions[edit]

SBA Administrator Aida Álvarez was the first Hispanic and Latino American woman to serve in the Cabinet.

The president may designate or remove additional officials as members of the Cabinet. These positions have not always been in the Cabinet, so some female officeholders may not be listed.

The following list includes women who have held Cabinet-level positions other than the 15 executive departments. The table below is organized based on the time at which a female was appointed to a cabinet-level position.

 *  denotes the first female head of that particular agency
Name Position Year
appointed
Party Administration Ref.
Anne Armstrong* Counselor to the President 1973 Republican Richard Nixon [53]
Gerald Ford
Jeane Kirkpatrick* Ambassador to the United Nations 1981 Republican Ronald Reagan [54]
Carla Anderson Hills* Trade Representative 1989 Republican George H. W. Bush
Carol Browner Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency 1993 Democratic Bill Clinton [55]
Madeleine Albright Ambassador to the United Nations 1993 Democratic Bill Clinton [56]
Laura Tyson* Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers 1993 Democratic Bill Clinton [57]
Alice Rivlin* Director of the Office of Management and Budget 1994 Democratic Bill Clinton [58]
Janet Yellen Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers 1997 Democratic Bill Clinton [59]
Aida Álvarez Administrator of the Small Business Administration 1997 Democratic Bill Clinton [59]
Charlene Barshefsky Trade Representative 1997 Democratic Bill Clinton [60]
Christine Todd Whitman Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency 2001 Republican George W. Bush [61]
Susan Schwab Trade Representative 2006 Republican George W. Bush [62]
Lisa P. Jackson Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [63]
Susan Rice Ambassador to the United Nations 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [64]
Christina Romer Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers 2009 Democratic Barack Obama [65]
Karen Mills Administrator of the Small Business Administration 2012 Democratic Barack Obama [66]
Sylvia Mathews Burwell Director of the Office of Management and Budget 2013 Democratic Barack Obama [67]
Gina McCarthy Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency 2013 Democratic Barack Obama [68]
Samantha Power Ambassador to the United Nations 2013 Democratic Barack Obama [69]
Maria Contreras-Sweet Administrator of the Small Business Administration 2014 Democratic Barack Obama [70]
Nikki Haley Ambassador to the United Nations 2017 Republican Donald Trump [71]
Linda McMahon Administrator of the Small Business Administration 2017 Republican Donald Trump [72]
Gina Haspel* Director of the Central Intelligence Agency 2018 Republican Donald Trump [73]
Jovita Carranza Administrator of the Small Business Administration 2020 Republican Donald Trump [74]
Avril Haines* Director of National Intelligence 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [75]
Linda Thomas-Greenfield Ambassador to the United Nations 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [76]
Cecilia Rouse Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [77]
Isabel Guzman Administrator of the Small Business Administration 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [78]
Katherine Tai Trade Representative 2021 Democratic Joe Biden [79]
Shalanda Young Director of the Office of Management and Budget 2022 Democratic Joe Biden [80]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  • a Ineligible to serve in the line of succession due to being a naturalized citizen, not natural-born.[9][81]
  • b The Department of Defense was established in 1947; no woman has served yet.[82]
  • c The Department of Veterans Affairs was established in 1989; no woman has served yet.[83]
  • d The Department of War was established in 1789 until abolished in 1947; when split between the Department of the Army and the Department of the Air Force by National Security Act of 1947 and both absorbed into the Department of Defense in 1949. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post.
  • e The Department of the Navy was established in 1798 and ceased to be an executive department until absorbed in 1949; when became a component of the Department of Defense. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post. Susan Livingstone was the first woman to serve in that post in 2003 as acting Secretary after it became a position beneath the Secretary of Defense.[84]
  • f The Post Office Department was established in 1792 and ceased to be an executive department from 1829 until 1971; when reorganized by the Postal Reorganization Act into the United States Postal Service. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post. Megan Brennan was the first woman to serve in that post in 2015 after it became an independent agency of the executive branch.[85][86]
  • g The Department of Commerce and Labor was established in 1903 until subdivided in 1913; when split between the Department of Commerce and the Department of Labor. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post.
  • h The Department of the Army was established in 1947 and ceased to be an executive department until absorbed in 1949; when became a component of the Department of Defense. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post. Christine Wormuth was the first woman to serve in that post in 2021 after it became a position beneath the Secretary of Defense.[87]
  • i The Department of the Air Force was established in 1947 and ceased to be an executive department until absorbed in 1949; when became a component of the Department of Defense. No woman had ever served while it was a Cabinet post. Sheila Widnall was the first woman to serve in that post in 1993 after it became a position beneath the Secretary of Defense.[88]

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