White House spokesman Jay Carney urged critics on Wednesday to make their judgments only after Obama had completed his team.
“Women are well represented in the president’s senior staff,” he told reporters, noting that his team included Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Debbie Walsh, director of Rutgers University’s Center for American Women in Politics, which tracks women in elective office, said Obama’s choices were a missed opportunity to put women into powerful jobs such as heading the Pentagon.
“A case could be made that Barack Obama won on the strength of the support that he had with women, given the gender gap,” she said.
With women filling 36 percent of Cabinet posts in his first term, Obama had the highest percentage of women in top jobs of any president other than fellow Democrat Bill Clinton, she said.