I believe in the American system of entrepreneurial capitalism. It is this system, coupled with our democracy and rule of law, which has made the U.S. economy the largest and most dynamic in the world and brought our country unprecedented prosperity. It is this system which makes the American dream a reality.
Barbara Hackman Franklin
Franklin first began her work in public service when she was recruited from Citibank in New York in 1971 to spearhead a White House effort on behalf of President Nixon. At the time, only three of the President’s first 200 appointments had gone to women, at which time newspaper reporter Vera Glaser asked why this was, and when it would be corrected. Nixon then brought in Franklin as the point person for a series of initiatives to advance more women into the upper echelons of government service. In a year, this effort resulted in tripling the number of women in appointive positions, and by 1973 this number was almost quadrupled.
This achievement is documented through a collection of oral histories from Franklin and other women who broke the glass ceiling during this time: “A Few Good Women: Advancing the Cause of Women in Government, 1969-74.” This collection is housed at the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. The Libraries also published the 2012 book by Lee Stout, A Matter of Simple Justice: The Untold Story of Barbara Hackman Franklin and A Few Good Women, which was launched on March 8 at the National Archives in Washington, DC in an event covered by CSPAN and moderated by Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour.
Franklin went on to hold Presidential appointments in the administrations of five U.S. Presidents. She was one of the original commissioners and the first Vice Chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. During these years, Franklin concentrated on improving safety for children and pioneering the use of cost/benefit analysis. Her letters to President Carter and her speeches led to that Administration’s creation of the United States Regulatory Council to coordinate the numerous agencies engaged in research or regulation of carcinogens, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Later, she became the 13th woman to serve in the U.S. Cabinet as the 29th Secretary of Commerce, nearly twenty years after her efforts to advance women. Franklin was the first Republican woman to serve as Secretary of Commerce.
As Secretary of Commerce, she increased American exports, and emphasized market-opening initiatives in China, Russia, Japan and Mexico. In June 1992, Franklin led the Department of Commerce in sponsoring the US-Russia Business Summit in Washington, DC. During this time, President George H.W. Bush and President Boris Yeltsin addressed political, security, and economic issues. This was the first summit between the two countries that focused on trade rather than strategic weapons. According to Sharyl Cross and Marina Alekseevna, this was “probably the most significant development in US foreign economic policy toward Russia and the Soviet Union since 1945, if not the entire century.”
She has received numerous leadership awards and honors and has been a leader in the Republican Party throughout her career.
Full-Time Presidential Appointments
- 29th U.S. Secretary of Commerce**, 1992-93, by appointment of President George H. W. Bush
- An original Commissioner, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissioner**, 1973-79, by appointment of President Richard Nixon
- Vice-Chairman, 1973-74; 1977-78
- Staff Assistant to the President, 1971-73, by appointment of President Richard Nixon for the recruitment of women to high-level positions in government
Part-Time Presidential Appointments
- Member, President’s Advisory Committee for Trade Policy & Negotiations, 1982-86; 89-91, by appointment of Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush
- Chairman, Task Force on Tax Reform, 1985-86
- Member, North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) Task Force, 1991
- Alternate Representative & Public Delegate**, UN General Assembly, 44th Session, 1989-90, by appointment of President George H. W. Bush
Other Part-Time Governmental Appointments
- Member, Consultant Panel for the Comptroller General of the U.S., 1984-92; 1994-96
- Member, Board of Visitors, Defense Systems Management College, 1986-89
- Member, Business Research Advisory Council, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, 1968-71
**Senate Confirmation Required