President Carter said yesterday he has "had a hard time" convincing Cabinet members and aides to "break new ground" in appointing large numbers of women to high level policy-making positions.
He told an ad hoc women's coalition representing more than 60 women's groups that the Cabinet members and aides complain to him that "no matter what we do, we get nothing but criticism" from millitant women's groups.
The coalition met with Carter at the White House for about 15 minutes, and with Vice President Mondale for about 40 minutes, to tell them, members said, that the Carter administration is not moving fast enough or far enough in appointing women.
"Although the caliber of women appointed to date has been exceptionally high, the number of women in policy-making positions remains shockingly low," they said in a statement.
The coalition, including such groups as the League of Women Voters, the National Council of Negro Women and the National Organization for Women, presented Carter with a list of "priority requests," including:
A presidential "fireside chat" from his hometown of Plains, Ga., devoted entirely to the need for the Equal Rights Amendment. Doing it from Plains, instead of the White House, one member said, would help "show that it's really a people issue . . ."
A Cabinet position to monitor the programs and employment practices in all other departments as they relate to women within the federal government.
An executive order requiring every federal department and agency to issue public statements outlining the impact of each of their programs on women.
Members of the coalition said Carter did not commit himself to any of their proposals, but promised they could have access to him through his aide Midge Constanza.
"It's obvious that all of these statements are well considered and justified," Carter told the group. He said that over the past several says, he'd spoken to Florida Gov. Reubin Askew and Don Tucker, speaker of the Florida House, and "they both assure me the ERA will pass . . ." when it comes before the Florida legislature in April.
Carter also said he wanted the women present to "be aggressive in intruding into the decision-making process." The group gave him a standing ovation when he left the meeting.