The incoming administration of US President-elect Joe Biden is very much a female affair in the crucial areas of communications and financial management. Among the all-female White House communications team named recently, moreover, Biden has chosen Jen Psaki for press secretary.
The 40-year-old Psaki – Tuesday is her birthday – has roots in Messinia from her father. Despite her relatively young age, the Greek-American official is a seasoned hand in communications, having served as State Department spokesperson under John Kerry and later as White House communications director under President Barack Obama.
After she was chosen by the vice president-elect, Psaki tweeted that she was “honored to work again for Joe Biden, a man I worked on behalf of during the Obama-Biden admin as he helped lead economic recovery, rebuilt our relationships with partners (turns out good practice) and injected empathy and humanity into nearly every meeting I sat in.”
During her stint at the State Department, Psaki was involved in and often commented on developments related to issues of Greek and Cypriot interest. Currently, she is responsible for the transition team overseeing the presentation and confirmation of the new administration’s officials by the Senate, a sensitive process but made especially so in the event that the Republicans hold onto their majority in the upper house after the January 5 runoffs in Georgia.
Psaki, who will be the face of Biden’s government on a daily basis, is not the only woman on this crucial team responsible for the White House’s public image and communications, as all seven of the newly named officials, from the head of the communications to the deputy press secretary, are women.
The emphasis on gender equality is not, of course, limited to the area of communications. Biden has made several important choices that send a clear message about gender equality, foremost of which, of course, is that of Kamala Harris as vice president. He also named Janet Yellen, the former chair of the Federal Reserve, as Treasury secretary, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield as the permanent ambassador of the US to the United Nations.
With regard to the economy in particular, apart from Yellen, women will also be heading the White House Budget office and the president’s three-member Council of Economic Advisers.
What’s more, in contrast to certain choices of women associates made by Donald Trump, Biden is appointing to key positions women whose experience and abilities cannot be questioned by anyone.
The new president appears determined to make a mark in the campaign for gender equality. Just as he had vowed to name a woman vice president, he has also made a commitment to appoint a woman of color to the Supreme Court.
His choices also reflect a political reality, as women voters were instrumental in the Democratic candidate’s victory.