Contrary to some myths, Peace Corps Washington was not a government version of “Mad Men.” writes Joanne Roll (Colombia 1963-65) yesterday in her blog item.
Sorry Joanne. I have to disagree. The Peace Corps (like other government agencies at the time was made up of “mad men”.)
In the third year of the Peace Corps–1963–a booklet was published by the agency entitled “Who’s Who in the Peace Corps Washington.” Here is a photo in those early years of a Senior Staff Meeting with Shriver at the head of the table.
A list of the top 40 employees were profiled in this booklet. Only three profiles were of women: Alice Gilbert (Director of the Division of United Nations and International Agency Programs); Ruth Olson (Special Assistant to the Chief of the Division of Volunteer Field Support); Dorothy Mead Jacobsen (Chief of the Division of Personnel).
There was also a list of “Charter Members” of the Peace Corps. They were given a photo and a paragraph. A total of 21 employees were profiled. Of them 7 were women: Jean Hundley, a secretary; Nan Tucker McEvoy, Deputy Director of Africa Programs; Sally Bowles, daughter of Ambassador Chester Bowles; Helen Farrall, receptionist; Gloria Gaston, African Region; Nancy Gore, assistant to the Associate Director for Planning and Evaluation; Mary Ann Orlando, Confidential Assistant to the Director.
Coates Redmon in her 1986 book Come As You Are about the founding and first years only profiles one ‘famous’ early women staffer, Betty Harris. 7 men were profiled. Coates Redmon worked in the Evaluation Division in those early days. There were a few other women in key positions, Jane Campbell, in the Division of Volunteers Support, and later APCD in Ethiopia. However, in those founding years–1961-1963, no woman was a Peace Corps Country Director.
It wasn’t until the first RPCVs returned from overseas that HQ began to be ‘flooded’ with females, RPCVs like Maureen Carroll (Philippines 1961-63); Peggy Anderson (Togo 1962-64): Sally Collier (Ethiopia 1962-64); and our own, Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) among others.
Today, more than 60% of all Peace Corps Volunteers are women. Since 1977 there has been 13 Peace Corps Directors–6 have been women and 6 have been Peace Corps Volunteers. I would estimate that 1/3 of all CDs are women. In fact, Maureen Carroll and Sally Collier later in their tour became country directors in Africa.
Today, from the directorship down to the PCVs, it is truly, The “Mad Women” of the Peace Corps.
John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64)