For the First Time, Women Could Head FTC, FCC

Obama may make history again

President Obama has the chance to make history again, this time by naming the first woman chair of the Federal Communications Commission as well as one to head the Federal Trade Commission.

A woman in either post could go a long way to squelch critiques that Obama’s administration looks like a boy’s club. Over the last few weeks, groups like the Women’s Media Center (co-founded by Jane Fonda, Robin Morgan and Gloria Steinem) have turned up the heat on the president, reminding him it was the women’s vote that sent him back to the White House.

At the FCC, one front-runner is commissioner Mignon Clyburn, who was sworn in for a second term last year. Other contenders include commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who joined the FCC last year, and Karen Kornbluh, the ambassador to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

For the FTC spot, most in Washington are betting on Julie Brill, an aggressive consumer advocate. Brill has practically campaigned for the top spot, rarely turning down a speaking engagement. But Obama could just as easily pick commissioner Edith Ramirez, his former Harvard Law School classmate who joined the FTC with Brill in 2010.

FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz has already stepped down, so word on his successor could come soon. But the FCC could be a waiting game. Despite conventional wisdom that FCC chair Julius Genachowski will step down this year, he’s been mum.