Like many Americans I was delighted to learn that The White House named a man as President Obama’s Social Secretary.
Jeremy Bernard, a senior adviser to the U.S. ambassador to France at the embassy in Paris, will become the first man and the first openly gay person to hold the position of Social Secretary. He seems like an outstanding choice for the job. As social secretary, Mr. Bernard will supervise many official White House events, including state dinners, the annual egg roll and garden parties.
No doubt, his appointment is a wonderfully historic moment.
Still, I couldn’t help but think that before we break out the bubbly and plan a lunch for fifty, we need more historic moments in the glass ceiling department.
A woman has never been Secretary of Defense, The Treasury or Veteran’s Affairs. One look at the Web site for the Department of Defense gives anyone the impression that women need not apply. According to We-news, the war in Iraq includes the largest deployment of women to a combat theatre. I’m immensely proud of my outstanding sister Teri, also known as Lt. Col. Theresa DelBalso, commander of the 424th Military Police, (a Penn State alum) who made two tours. There are twenty percent of women in the military yet the Department of Veteran’s Affairs keeps a male focus. And although women have an increasingly strong role in the economy of the country, all seventy-five secretaries of the treasury have been men.
There have been some important breakthroughs: For example, Elizabeth Dole is the first woman to serve two different administrations in two different cabinet positions, and Hillary Clinton is the first former first lady to be Secretary of State.
But the optimism dims when the reality that we’ve never had a woman president hits. As Susan J. Carroll points out “women are relative newcomers among state elected and appointed officials.”
I am very happy for Mr. Bernard and I wish him well. One bit of advice: watch the party crashers.
It would be nice, though– it is “Women’s History Month”– if more women could crash the men-only parties that have been going on way too long in many areas of the United States government.