Mitt Romney Binders Full of Women: A Sneak Peek into the Three Rings to Rule Them All


Just in case you missed it, in Tuesday night's presidential debate, we learned that Mitt Romney's got binders on binders on binders chock-full of women.

Truly, you would not believe how many binders of women Mitt Romney has.

But let's take a peek inside those binders, shall we, Mitt?

Looking in your Burn Book, what we see is that, when it comes to gender equality in the workplace (and the world), your policies on paper — college-ruled or unlined — make me want to do this:

1) You didn't build those binders. 

While Mitt Romney claims that he purposefully went to women's groups and asked them how he could find more women for his administration, the truth is that women's groups lobbied Romney themselves.

At the Boston Phoenix, David Bernstein reports, "What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration —a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.

"They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected."

There is a huge difference between actively seeking gender parity in your administration and being informed through the work of others that it is an issue you should be addressing. I take back my previous brownie points for Romney.

UPDATE: 1:00 p.m. I just got an emailed press release from MassGAP regarding "how women candidates were identified for potential appointment to leadership roles by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney."

Prior to the 2002 gubernatorial election, MassGAP approached the campaigns of candidates Shannon O'Brien and  Mitt Romney and asked them both to commit to: (1).“Make best efforts” to ensure that the number of women in appointed state positions is proportionate to the population of women in Massachusetts; (2). Select a transition team whose composition is proportionate to the women in the Commonwealth; and (3). Meet with MassGAP representatives regularly during the appointments process.  Both campaigns made a commitment to this process.

Following the election, MassGAP formed committees for each cabinet post in the administration and began the process of recruiting, interviewing, and vetting women applicants. Those committees selected top applicants for each position and presented this information to the administration for follow-up interviews and consideration for appointment.

 Prior to the 2002 election, women comprised approximately 30 percent of appointed senior-level positions in Massachusetts government. By 2004, 42 percent of the new appointments made by the Romney administration were women. Subsequently, however, from 2004-2006 the percentage of newly-appointed women in these senior appointed positions dropped to 25 percent.

2) Romney's record on working with women does not impress.

On Wednesday morning, Paul Ryan stepped up to defend Romney's binder comment. 

But is Romney's track record really everything Ryan claims?

The short answer: no.

According to research done by UMass Boston, while Romney's first 33 appointments to senior-level positions were women (42% of the appointments between 2002 to early 2004), from 2004 to 2006, women made up only 25% of Romney's 64 appointments. Researchers explain that under leaders like Romney, "[G]ains are difficult to attain because women are appointed to replace women, men replace men, and when there is a change in sex, more men replace women than women replace men."

While serving as the governor of Massachusetts, Romney was further criticized for failing to appoint women and racial minorities as judges in the Superior Courts. Contrary to what he said last night, as governor, Romney made it clear that he does not believe in affirmative action when it comes to addresses gender imbalances.

In 2007, USA Today noted, "Of the 19 nominations made by Romney by early 2005, 17 were men and only two were minorities. Romney blamed his own nomination commission for taking too long to recommend candidates ... In his last year, Romney nominated four women to the bench, including Tuttman, saying they had 'the capability, the qualifications and the experience to be fair and balanced jurists.' The administration noted the four would bring to 36 the percentage of women Romney nominated to judicial office."

So much for those binders.

3) Mitt Romney's ideas when it comes to women in the workplace are, well, binding.

In addressing issues that women in the workplace face, Romney assured voters he would get his female employees home in time to make dinner. Because, you know, we women can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, ever, ever let you forget you're a man.

Romney said, "I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said: ‘I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school.’ So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.”

Wow, '80s flashback! It's almost like no real progress has been made. 

To give credit where credit is due: as both Mitt and Ann Romney know, women are the ones who are generally saddled with domestic duties like cooking, cleaning, and child care. But simply providing flexibility for your own employees is not enough, and work/life balance is not an issue just for mothers. But as Romney's comments on parenthood on Tuesday night indicated, policy solutions for families remain stuck in the '80s, as do Romney's ideas about what constitutes an economic family unit .

And don't even get me started on Lilly Ledbetter, pay equity and health care costs for working women

So, Mitt Romney, please stop writing about women in your notebook, and start considering us when you write your policies.