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Memorandum on Equal Opportunity for Women in the federal Service.

July 24, 1962

[Released July 24, 1962. Dated July 23, 1962]

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies:

As I recently advised the Chairman of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, the Attorney General has rendered an opinion that will make it possible to open up greater employment opportunities for women in the federal service. He has held that the question whether positions in the federal Government may be filled by men only, by women only, or by qualified members of either sex, is a matter which may be regulated by the President.

I have previously directed the Chairman of the Civil Service Commission to review pertinent personnel policies and practices affecting the employment of women and to work with you to assure that selection for any career position is made solely on the basis of individual merit and fitness.

I intend that the federal career service be maintained in every respect without discrimination and with equal opportunity for employment and advancement. The opinion of the Attorney General now enables me to direct you to take immediate steps so that hereafter appointment or promotion shall be made without regard to sex, except in unusual situations where such action has been found justified by the Civil Service Commission on the basis of objective non-discriminatory standards.


Note: A White House release accompanying the President's memorandum pointed out that existing policy was based on a 1934 Attorney General's opinion giving agency heads the right to limit the filling of federal positions, regardless of duties, to members of one sex or the other. The release further stated that the present Attorney General had reviewed this opinion and had found it not to be in accordance with law.

John F. Kennedy, Memorandum on Equal Opportunity for Women in the federal Service. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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