Valerie Jarrett: ‘A little insulting’ to call Obama administration a ‘boys club’

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After naming a number of female Cabinet members, Jarrett said, “I believe he has always surrounded himself not just by women, but women he has empowered in positions of influence.”

She added, “So, in a sense, when people say it’s a boys club, it’s a little insulting to the women who are actually playing very critical roles.”

Jarrett’s comments came on Wednesday during a conversation with The Atlantic’s Linda Douglass — a former director of the White House Office of Health Reform under Obama — at the magazine’s kickoff to its annual Women of Washington series at the Newseum.

Jarrett, 58, touched upon the challenges of working her way up the career ladder while being a single mom. She recalled while working for City Hall years ago in Chicago, a mentor pushed her to ask for a promotion. After she convinced her boss to promote her, Jarrett said to him, “Oh, and I want that office next to yours, up in that front suite."

When told by the boss that she couldn’t have the office because it was based on seniority, she says she took action into her own hands. “I literally, I just moved in. I’m stunned now when I think back about it," Jarrett said with a laugh.

“And once I moved in, he couldn’t really say 'move out.' ”

The lawyer, a longtime Windy City resident, said in the wide-ranging interview that, in terms of the political game, “Chicago’s child’s play next to D.C. It really is. This place will break your heart if you let it.”

Calling Washington “a tough town,” Jarrett noted it’s important to develop a tough skin “and try to keep a good heart.”