President Trump, often criticized for his stance toward women, employs more women as senior advisers than former presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton did at the similar points in their presidencies.
Given the relative paucity of female senior presidential advisers prior to Clinton, Trump’s employment of women as key advisers at this early point in his presidency may be higher than any other president’s in history.
At the beginning of the third year of his first term as president, Trump has seven female top advisers, as compared to five for Obama, three for Bush, and five for Clinton at that point. He had eight as of December 2018, when United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley departed the administration.
The top advisers are White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway; CIA Director Gina Haspel, Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen, senior adviser Ivanka Trump, Director of Legislative Affairs Shahira Knight, and Director of Strategic Communications Mercedes Schlapp.
Trump reportedly will also nominate more women to powerful positions soon, such as U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft for U.N. ambassador and U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu for associate attorney general, a key post currently held by Rod Rosenstein.
The Examiner selected the women included in this comparison, both from the Trump White House and previous administrations, based not just on their formal titles, but on the power and influence with the president they have been understood to wield.
Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, for example, were not included.
Schlapp said the president “surrounds himself with very strong women with strong voices” who give him advice on a range of policy areas, such as the economy, education, and trade.
“We all have a seat at the table,” she told the Examiner.
A former senior White House official said Trump “always understood the value women bring” to the workplace and appreciated their perspectives.
“He treats people equally,” the official said. “He values merit and quality of work, regardless of any other attributes including gender.”
The former official said Trump seemed to let his guard down more with women than with men and that it seemed easier for him to operate around women and trust them.
Former White House Communications Director Mike Dubke called the president an “equal opportunity” listener who “did not discriminate based on gender” whether he was happy — or upset — with staff.
Tammy Vigil, a Boston University professor who specializes in the American presidency and gender in politics, found it “surprising” that Trump has hired as many women as he has, adding that “it’s a wonderful thing” when women are brought to the forefront in politics. But she argued that these high-profile women often have to “work around the truth” to cover for Trump’s erroneous statements.
“It compromises their integrity,” Vigil said. “They have to sort of give up their own honesty and integrity in order to serve the male president, which is not a good look for women, even if they are in positions of power.”
Vigil also said she thinks Trump views women in a transactional way, as “tools for his benefit.”
“Why is he hiring these women? He’s getting something out of it,” she said.
Trump has a history of misogynistic treatment of women. He has insulted their physical appearances and compared them to animals. Twenty-three women have accused him of sexual misconduct, including rape and other forms of sexual assault.
Schlapp thinks allegations of misogyny against Trump are “outrageous.”
“I have always felt respected by the president,” Schlapp said. “He is someone who values my opinion and my insight. Those of us who work with him get to see his compassion.”
Trump particularly valued the opinion of former Communications Director Hope Hicks, who departed the administration in February 2018. Hicks “was always in the room,” according to Dubke, and the president frequently asked for her thoughts on various matters.
Ivanka Trump has become one of his closest advisers, despite reported attempts by her father and former chief of staff John Kelly to push her and her husband Jared Kushner out of the White House. Conway and Sarah Sanders have stayed with Trump since his campaign, a feat few of either sex have accomplished in an administration infamous for high employee turnover.
Shahira Knight, though not frequently in the spotlight, has reportedly won the president’s confidence and respect, and Nielsen fought her way back into Trump’s inner circle despite nearly getting fired in November.
Alana Jeydel, an Allendale Columbia School professor who specializes in women in politics, said the appointment of qualified women to top positions is important.
“Any woman, from any walk of life, should be able to look to the government and see people like them, and know that is a job that they could hold if they wanted to,” Jeydel said.
Mary-Kate Lizotte, an Augusta University professor specializing in gender and politics, agreed but said this effect could be diminished by negative coverage of Trump’s sexist comments.
“I don’t think it’s gotten as much attention as the fact that he’s said things that are sexist,” Lizotte said. “It might not have as much of an effect because of negative coverage.”
Obama’s female advisers during the beginning of the third year of his first White House term included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, Domestic Policy Council Director Melody Barnes, and senior adviser Valerie Jarrett. Bush employed national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Domestic Policy Council Director Margaret Spellings, and Staff Secretary Harriet Miers, and Clinton employed press secretary Dee Dee Myers, Attorney General Janet Reno, Council of Economic Affairs Chairwoman Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Director of the Administration Office Patsy Thomasson, and Domestic Policy Council Director Carol Rasco.
Author: Emily Ward
Source: Washingtonexaminer: Trump has more women as top advisers than Obama, Bush, or Clinton