New book says female staffers in early Obama Administration felt left out

A recently released book called “Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President” by a well-known journalist has sparked controversy over its portrayal of the Obama Administration during its first two years. The author wrote the book after conducting over 700 hours of interviews with staff of the White House and even with President Obama.

Some of the controversy has come from the fact that the book portrays the early Obama Administration White House as not a workplace where female employees thrived. One former female member of the staff is quoted in the book as calling the early Obama Administration White House as a hostile work environment for women that could have been taken to court. That female employee says now that those remarks were taken out of context, but the author stands by his use of her words.

Some are now using the book to question Obama’s management style. Apparently, the tensions grew to the point in November 2009 that a dinner was held with female staffers and Obama specifically for Obama to hear the women express their frustrations with the work environment. The women said that they felt like they were not included on policy-making decisions and had less access to the president than male staffers did.

One problem leading to this situation was that many of the men in the early White House had worked with Obama on his campaign. After Obama met with the women, he promoted more women to senior positions and appointed more women to the reelection campaign in higher-ranking roles.

Source: The Washington Post, “In early Obama White House, female staffers felt frozen out,” Peter Wallsten and Anne E. Kornblut, Sept. 19, 2011

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