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Thursday April 17, 2014
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GM's Cassandra

 

continued

"And of course, in a statistical sense, in the fifties, he was absolutely right," she adds. "If you graduated from Radcliffe summa cum laude, you still were expected to learn to type-and then become a secretary."

But Whitman refused to learn to type-"I still type with four fingers"-and continued on to grad school. By then Bob was at Princeton, but it, too, was still all male. She enrolled at Columbia instead, taking her doctoral exams while pregnant with her son, Malcolm. Daughter Laura followed four years later. By then, Bob's career had taken them to Pennsylvania, where he taught at the University of Pittsburgh. But Marina always maintained her own academic career-highly unusual in the early 1960s. It was only years later, she once joked, that "I went from being a freak to a role model."

In 1970-1971 she served on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers. The CEA was then chaired by U-M economist Paul McCracken, who "very much took me under his wing and became an important mentor to me." She suspects that McCracken and George Shultz, then director of the Office of Management and Budget, were the ones who "persuaded first the president's minions, and then the president himself" to make her the first female member of the council. She remembers how the Nixon administration "made a big deal" of her appointment-and, afterward, the "constant cracks about, you know, 'The administration uses her because she's pretty,' or 'Her eye shadow matched her dress.' And even while I was being indignant about that, I thought, 'You know, my mother might actually be pleased.'"

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