Mrs. Louchheim, distinguished award winners, ladies and gentlemen:
I yield to no President in my esteem for women. After all, I married one--and I have helped to raise two. The press has noticed that I like to quote from previous Presidents; they observe that fact on occasion.
Today, I thought that it would be appropriate to let you hear from some of my predecessors and what they thought about women, what they had to say about women, and about how the Presidency finally came to grips with what Garfield called "the woman question." We do have other questions, as you can see, but we are going to talk about just this one now.
Here are a few examples of what Presidents have thought. I want to admit in the beginning that they have been shortened somewhat and they are completely out of context.
George Washington said, "I never did, nor do I believe I ever shall, give advice to a Woman."
James Madison thought that he detected "in the female mind the capacity for studies."
Lincoln wasn't so sure. "A woman," he said, "is the only thing that I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me."
James Garfield sensed something was happening. He said, "Put that aside as a jest if we will, still the woman question is rising on our horizon."
William Howard Taft took a stand. "I am not in favor of suffrage for women."
Warren Harding faced the inevitable. "Let us not share the apprehension of many as to the danger of this momentous extension of franchise."
But Calvin Coolidge finally found a use for the ladies in national life. He said, "I want every woman to vote." I need not add that he spoke in an election year.
Fortunately, for the women of America and for our country itself, we have come far since those days. But even today, women still have a cruel discrimination in jobs. But we are--I think--making some progress.
I am proud today that more and more women occupy what I believe to be most important positions in this Government.
I wish I could find more, for the women of America remain one of the largest untapped resources for the great tasks of this Nation.
One of the ladies on my staff advised me that I should not speak to you women of your charm, or your grace, or your beauty. "They don't want to hear that," she said. I paused and then said, "Well, that has not been my experience."
She said that I should compliment you instead on your great influence in the high councils of your Government and that is good advice. In your cases, that is very easy for me to follow.
You, as winners of the Federal Woman's Award, represent extraordinary achievement in several vital fields. Each of you can be proud of your contribution to the quality of the Federal service and to the capacity of this Government of yours.
You have helped to shape and to administer programs for our people. You have proven your personal capacities for judgment and for leadership and fidelity and dedication and integrity.
For all of these things, for being where you are today, for doing what you are doing today to serve our country, to serve our people, to serve our common employer--the people of the United States--I have asked you to come here to the Cabinet Room so that on behalf of the people of the United States I could express my thanks to each of you, and offer my congratulations to all of you and to the great number of fine, dedicated women that you speak for and that you symbolize.Note: The President spoke at 1:10 p.m. in the Cabinet Room at the White House. In his opening words he referred to Mrs. Katie Louchheim, Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Federal Woman's Award and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs.
The recipients of the Federal Woman's Award were
--Dr. Ruth Rogan Benerito, Research Chemist and Investigations Leader, Southern Utilization Research and Development Division, New Orleans, La. Department of Agriculture, cited "for her exceptional achievements in basic scientific research and the successful application of her findings as a source of immense benefit to the public";
--Dr. Mabel Kunce Gibby, Clinical Psychologist and Coordinator of Counseling Psychology, VA Hospital, Coral Gables, Fla., Veterans Administration, cited "for her remarkable creativity and leadership, ceaseless dedication, and unique success in restoring handicapped persons to meaningful and productive lives";
--Frances M. James, Statistician, Council of Economic Advisers, Executive Office of the President, cited "for her outstanding competence and impressive achievements in economic statistics, and her extraordinary loyalty and devotion to duty";
--Mrs. Ruby Grant Martin, Director, Operations Division, Office for Civil Rights, Office of the Secretary, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, cited "for her courageous and effective administration of the civil rights compliance program and her exceptional contribution to racial justice in the field of education";
--Dr. Lucille Furrier Stickel, Wildlife Research Biologist, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Laurel, Md., Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, Department of the Interior, cited "for her pioneering personal research and original research techniques and applications in evaluating the significance of pesticide residues in wild animals";
--Rogene L. Thompson. Supervisory Air Traffic Control Specialist and Crew Chief, Federal Aviation Administration, Anchorage, Alaska, Department of Transportation, cited "for her extraordinary abilities and unique accomplishments in analyzing and solving tremendously complex problems of air traffic control";
--Dr. Nina Bencich Woodside, Chief, Bureau of Chronic Disease Control, D.C. Department of Public Health, Government of the District of Columbia, cited "for her superior leadership, initiative, and professional and administrative competence in developing a new range of public health services in adult health and geriatrics."
The Federal Woman's Award was founded in 1960 to give public recognition to outstanding Government career women. The award winners are chosen by a board of trustees consisting of 12 persons prominently identified with Federal personnel ado ministration, both in and out of Government.