Monday, October 22, 2012

on binders and women and the workplace

I'm a little late to the "binders full of women" game as Debate #3 is raging now across my newsfeed (but not my tv... go Bears).   Anyway, I'm finally taking the time to sit down and talk about the main thing that irked me about Romney and the second debate.  And while it's related to the whole "binders" debacle, it's not exactly that.

First, so we're all on the same page, here is the full quotation (and for the record, it's from Fox News so it has no liberal lean):

ROWLEY: Governor Romney, pay equity for women?

ROMNEY: Thank you. And important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men.  And I -- 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.  I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.  Now one of the reasons I was able to get so many good women to be part of that team was because of our recruiting effort. But number two, because I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible.

The emphasis is mine, and I included it because I wanted to be completely clear about what bothered me so much about his remarks.  It's not the "binders full of women" comment, because frankly, I'm too busy being amused by it.  (And while he completely botched his delivery, I do understand the spirit of what he was trying to say - at least what I hope he was trying to say - which is that there were many qualified women available for the position).  But what bugged me was for him to explicitly say that if you're going to have women in the workforce, that you sometimes need to be more flexible.  That made it appear as if to have women in the workplace you should give them special rules and special treatment.

That is a huge leap backwards for gender equality and considering the question was about pay equity - it's the exact wrong message to send.  (And in fact, considering the question, perhaps making this overarching flexibility exception for women would actually fly in the face of the "equal pay for equal work" idea, because if we're allowing women this broad "flexibility" then the work and job is certainly not equal?)

And beyond the actual words that he said, it bothers me that he seemed to think this was a selling point, that he was being progressive and treating women well by saying that women deserve more workplace flexibility.  But what women actually need is to be viewed in the same way as our male counterparts - as strong candidates and capable employees, not as these people who need flexibility.

6 comments:

  1. Kate - really? Obama maybe a good president, but Romney is making valid points

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    1. Hello Anonymous - Romney is making valid points where? During the current debate (which is being televised now) or during debate #2 (which this post was about)?

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  2. I think you nailed what annoyed me most about his comment as well. The binders thing was just sort of a weird way of delivering. And, I do agree that his intentions are there in getting more women on his staff, however the implication that they require some sort of special treatment just because they are women.

    Melissa

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    1. YES, exactly. Special treatment just because they are women is not an answer to pay inequity... in fact, it seems like it'd be a reason FOR it!

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  3. Women don't want "Equality", women wish to be treated as Ladies in the Work Place. Women go into any position and look at the other coworkers, and immediately start in on how things must change in order to cater to their feelings. Men must never act "Natural" when a woman is in the room because she will be offended by their actions despite the fact that their actions are only offensive to the overly sensitive. When a woman walks into the workplace, the only thought in any man's head is "Oh dear god, what will she consider offensive and sue us over?" Businesses must always consider the inner-child of their female employees because even the most innocent remark, image, or even the content of the snack machine is grounds for litigation. Women in America don't want to be accepted and treated as equals, women demand that the company and all other employees bend to accommodate their feelings in any way, shape, and form.

    The biggest hurtle to gender equality in the work place is women because if you have two equally qualified candidates and one is far more likely to file a lawsuit over the fiber content in the buildings carpeting or how the calendar in the next cubical over has puppies in it and she is allergic to puppies so the pictures make her feel anxious, the employer will go with the candidate which is least likely to cause problems. People that cause problems constantly find themselves feeling discriminated against and can’t understand why the same thing happens to them over and over again. Until women understand that “Equality” means being treated like anyone else and that you don’t deserve to have your every emotional whim catered to, women will remain the candidate left unemployed, wondering why she is constantly being discriminated against. (Not to mention that when you study the data, the gender wage gap is just a myth perpetuated by those that don't want to accept that their own life choices are what has put them in the situation they find themselves in.)

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    1. Wow, anonymous. I appreciate your comment, though I must say that I completely disagree.

      I don't have time to respond to each point you made, though I will say that I especially disagreed with the line that "Women don't want "Equality", women wish to be treated as Ladies in the Work Place". I can't speak to the women in YOUR workplace, but that's completely untrue about each of the places where I have been employed over the past decade plus in the work world.

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