The incorporation of women into the public arena has increasingly attracted the attention of scholars in public administration. Yet there has been little analysis of this phenomenon from a long-term perspective. This article is an evaluation of the integration of women into the public sector in Chile from the mid-nineteenth century to the Great Depression, c.1860–1930. Based on the national budget and statistical yearbooks, the article provides the first estimates of Chilean female public employees, identifying the main sectors they entered, and analyzing both social and political factors which permitted the entrance of women into public administration. The employment of women in public agencies was facilitated by a change in the role assigned to women in society, fiscal crises, the emergence of nationalistic economic ideas, the actions of the feminist movement, and changes in the way administrative tasks were conceived.