By Anne E. Kornblut, Globe Staff, 3/28/2001


WASHINGTON - President Bush has quietly closed the White


Office for Women's Initiatives and Outreach, shutting a small but

symbolic office in one of many indications that his administration intends to

reshape the government's approach to women's issues.


The closing of an office established in 1995 was not

announced, and a White House official declined to explain, except to say

that it ''expired at the end of President Clinton's term.''


The office, which ranged in size from four to nine people,

served as a liaison to outside organizations with ideas and questions about

pending policies affecting women.


Audrey Haynes, who directed the office before becoming


Gore's chief of staff, said its work then focused on economic issues

important to women. She cited the example of a call received from a


professor who pointed out negative effects of a bankruptcy bill on


Such advocates ''don't know who to call'' in the White House without


office, she said.


''The policy shop depended on us to really monitor all of


policy initiatives that were being formulated within the White House or


Cabinet,'' Haynes said. Bush's decision to close the office, she said,

''concerns me.''


Asked why Bush did not renew the office, spokeswoman

Claire E.

Buchan responded in more general terms. ''As far as President Bush is

concerned, women's issues are very high on his priority list, issues


affect women and all Americans, especially tax relief for working


child care, health care, cancer research funding for NIH,'' she said.


Bush prides himself on caring about issues affecting women


launched a ''W is for Women'' sidebar to his campaign as a testament.


has put dozens of women - more than any other president - in positions


power on the White House staff. They include Karen Hughes, counselor to


president, the highest-ranking female staff aide in the history of the

White House.


But he is also a firm fiscal conservative, and he is wary


affirmative action, practices that allow schools and contractors to

consider race, gender, and ethnicity when making decisions.


Instead, Bush favors a vague concept of ''affirmative

access,'' which aspires to a workplace where minorities and women are


the best candidates.


Despite his statements supporting women's issues in


Bush's views on some specifics - including Title IX, which he says he

supports but has also criticized - have been nebulous.


Some of his personnel moves have indicated a move away


Clinton administration views that won support from women's groups

established since the emergence of feminism.


Bush has placed Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a conservative

economist who says there is no gender gap in pay, in a top position at


Council of Economic Advisers. Kay Coles James, a Christian activist who

opposes affirmative action, has been picked to direct the Office of

Personnel Management, which oversees labor and discrimination rules


the federal work force.


James, a former official at Pat Robertson's Regent


once attacked the choice of Joycelyn Elders for surgeon general


she wrote, ''the best person ought to get the job, regardless of race


gender.'' On another occasion, she accused ''militant radical


of trying to ''divide us along gender lines'' by expanding the


of rape to include all forms of unwanted sexual conduct.


''Women must be responsible for their own behavior, and


legal system must be careful to define rape within reasonable limits,''

James wrote in a letter to a Heritage Foundation publication in 1994.


Furchtgott-Roth, an alumna of the Reagan and past Bush

administrations, has written a book on wage comparisons between men and

women that argues that ''complaints about systematic economic

discrimination against women simply do not square with the evidence.''

Rather than earning 75 cents for every dollar a man earns, as the


administration argued, women make more like 98 cents, Furchtgott-Roth



Other appointees - several hired from conservative think


- reject the traditional feminist platform, especially what has been


the ''politics of female victimization.''


Their views are no academic matter: Various programs


women, from labor contracting rules to Title IX funding for female


are likely to be seen through a much different lens than they were by


last administration, and with a more conservative bent.


Their arrival along with other conservative intellectuals


the White House is welcome news to many Republicans, both men and



Nancy Pfotenhauer, president of the Independent Women's


said she expected this year to see much less emphasis on ''Equal Pay


the event staged by liberals on April 3 to underscore a gender gap in

wages. ''You wouldn't see the Bush administration pushing something


that,'' she said.


Cathy Young, author of the book ''Ceasefire: Why Men and


Must Join Forces To Achieve True Equality,'' agreed. ''There's not

going to

be the talk there was about gender issues as there was under Clinton,''




But that is troubling news to many feminist organizations,

which are closely watching the appointments and awaiting the outcome of


first Bush budget.


Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women's

Organizations, voiced concern about a range of areas affecting women,


the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's pursuit of sexual


complaints, to the Labor Department's investigation into federal

contractors' wage scales.


Burk also cited the selection of Wade Horn as the


secretary for family support at the Department of Health and Human

Services. As president of the National Fatherhood Institute, he has


known to ''push marriage as a way to keep women and children out of

poverty,'' she said.


''Up and down the line,'' Burk added, ''the acknowledgment

that so-called movement conservatives are now becoming high level

appointees is alarming from the perspective of gender equity and




This story ran on page A01 of the Boston Globe on


Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.


Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company

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