Despite being unabashedly pro-Obama, I have to say that Mitt Romney's gaffe -- noting he had "binders full of women" when asked how he would rectify inequality in the workplace -- actually didn't bother me. Obviously, it could have been stated more eloquently, but as a woman, frankly I agree that we need more females in government, and I applaud any efforts to make it happen.
The problem, of course, is that what Mitt claimed he did is actually, to quote Joe Biden, "A bunch of malarkey."
Mitt said during the debate: "And I went to my staff, and I said, 'How come all the people for these jobs are, are all men?' They said: 'Well, these are the people that have the qualifications.' And I said: 'Well, gosh, can't we, can't we find some, some women that are also qualified?' And, and so we, we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. I went to a number of women's groups and said: 'Can you help us find folks,' and they brought us whole binders full of women."
Two points for trying to get more women into government. Negative 20 points for lying about it, Mitt.
David S. Bernstein, political writer for the Boston Phoenix, set the record straight by noting: "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."
Representatives from MassGap, a bipartisan coalition of women's groups, confirm this to be true, saying that in an effort to increase the number of women working in top government jobs, they approached Romney and his Democratic challenger, Shannon O'Brien, before the election and pressured them to sign a pledge to appoint more women if elected. After the pledge was signed, the group spent several months collecting resumes of qualified women and gave it to Romney after he was elected. As Carol Hardy-Fanta, a former co-chair at MassGAP said in an interview after the debate, "He didn't go out looking for these binders."
So, why should women in Utah care about Mitt's little fib? Because nowhere else in the country is inequity in the workplace greater than it is here. A recent study found Utah has the worst pay inequity, with women bringing home just 55 cents for every dollar a man brings home. Summit County women fair slightly better than the rest of our state, making $0.62 for every $1.00 made by men. The results of this study can be found here at: http://mobile.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/10/gender_income_inequality_maps_by_county_and_by_state.html .
This, in a word, is shameful. If only Mitt's story about the binders was actually true. As a working woman in Utah, I'd be excited to be put in a Trapper Keeper if it meant I'd be earning as much as the boys.
But alas, my friends over at www.FactCheck.org (which is, hands down, the best website during a presidential election), note that women in senior positions during Mitt's tenure as governor actually declined while he was in office.
Guess they spend too much time doodling in their binders.
One might assume that during his 15-year tenure at Bain Capital, Mitt might just have met one or two qualified women he could have recruited sans binders. But even there, only seven women worked in senior-level positions compared to 80 men.
In contrast to Mitt's binders blooper, Mr. Obama answered the question about inequity in the workplace by noting that the first piece of legislation he signed into law as president was the Lilly Ledbetter Act, also known as equal pay for equal work. A bill Mitt still refuses to support.
Perhaps it's because he only has sons. Or perhaps it's because his wife has never had a job. But I simply cannot fathom why someone who wants to be the commander in chief of a country where 50.8 percent of the people have a uterus, refuses to, at least on paper, suggest they shouldn't make less than men for the same type of work.
But the good news is, at any Utah Staples, you can buy almost two binders full of women for the same price as just one binder full of men.
Amy Roberts is a longtime Park City resident, freelance writer and the proud owner of two ill-behaved rescue dogs, Boston and Stanley. If you have a story idea, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.