President Reagan's chief emissary on women's issues, Wendy Borcherdt, is being moved out of her job after what officials describe as a personality clash with her boss, Elizabeth H. Dole, assistant to the president for public liaison.
Administration sources said Borcherdt, 46, a former management consultant and Reagan campaign worker, had collided repeatedly and sometimes harshly with Dole over women's issues. Borcherdt was said to be frustrated that the administration was not more urgently addressing concerns raised by women.
"It's not a question of ideology," said one source, noting that both women are conservatives. "It was a constant clash of personalities, and one is very vocal in saying she does not get along with her boss. Others decided, after months and months of this, we have a problem here and let's try and resolve it."
The transfer comes against the backdrop of polls showing that Reagan's standing among women voters has dropped substantially and amid criticism that the administration has not installed substantial numbers of women in top policy-making jobs.
The issue of Reagan's sensitivity to women's concerns came up once again at his press conference last week when he lightheartedly parried questions from correspondent Sarah McClendon on the status of a Justice Department report dealing with federal barriers facing women.
To resolve the friction between Borcherdt and Dole, one source said, there was agreement among the senior White House staff to remove Borcherdt and offer her a high-visibility position elsehere in the administration. One source said she has been approached about a top Education Department job.
Among other things, Borcherdt's job involved meeting with women's groups and offering advice on the appointment of women. She had previously worked in the White House personnel office. She did not return a reporter's telephone calls yesterday.
One administration official, who did not want to be identified, said "there could be some truth" to reports that Borcherdt was frustrated because Dole did not want to move as quickly on building Reagan's strength among women voters.
Borcherdt was said to be a prolific author of memos setting out her views and had sent them to most of the senior White House staff. One official said "the feeling is mutual" between the two women that Borcherdt should leave. "She's been looking for some time," the official said. "It's time for them to part ways."