Women Leaders of the U.S. Department of Labor
As March, Women’s History Month, ends, KRA believes it highly appropriate to celebrate the women who served as Secretary of the Department of Labor (DOL), which includes the Employment and Training Administration, the root-funding source for the WIOA Adult/Dislocated Worker and Youth Services Programs operated by KRA.
For 109 years (1913-Present), the Secretary of Labor (SOL) position has been held by 22 men—and 7 women. We shine our KRA Spotlight! on four of these incredible women, and invite you to visit United States Secretary of Labor for information on Ann McLaughlin, Elizabeth Dole, and Lynn Martin, the 19th, 20th, and 21st SOLs, respectively.
After Robert Reich—22nd SOL (1993-1997), women once again received consecutive SOL appointments.
We owe a debt of gratitude to these pioneers, whose accomplishments possess unique “first” designations within DOL, for their contributions to our industry, .
- Frances Perkins—4th SOL (1933-1945)—first woman to serve in the President’s Cabinet, dealt with critical labor issues during WW II, when skilled labor was vital to the economy and women were moving into jobs formerly held by men.
- Alexis Herman—23rd SOL (1997-2001)— first African-American to hold the position. She also served as Director of the Women’s Bureau (1977-1981). The DOL Hall of Secretaries website states, “Herman led the Department to focus its work on a prepared workforce, a secure workforce and a quality workforce.”
- Elaine Chao—24th SOL (2001-2009)—first Asian-American woman appointed to a President’s Cabinet. She served also as the 18th Secretary of Transportation (2017-2021).
- Hilda Solis—25th SOL (2009-2013)— first Latina to serve in the U.S. Cabinet, focusing much of her tenure on workplace-safety issues and strengthening compliance with wage-and-hour laws.