Frances Perkins (1880–1965) was an industrial reformer and the first female member of a president’s Cabinet. Perkins started her career as a social worker and worked briefly at Jane Addams’s Hull House. In 1912 Perkins became the executive secretary of the Consumers’ League of New York. She went on to serve several labor agencies, including the New York State Industrial Commission, the New York Council of Organization for War Service, and the State Industrial Board. She was named New York State industrial commissioner in 1929 by then governor Franklin D. Roosevelt. When Roosevelt became president in 1933, Perkins was named secretary of labor and became the first female Cabinet member. Perkins served in that position throughout Roosevelt’s presidency and helped to implement wide-reaching labor reforms including the Social Security Act and the Fair Labor Standards Act. Perkins resigned from the Cabinet after Roosevelt’s death. She was later appointed to the Civil Service Commission and worked as a teacher and lecturer until her death in 1965.

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