Binders full of Women – the US presidential debates

// 17 October 2012



I have been keen to hear about the US Presidential elections. This morning the phrase “binders full of women” cropped up all over different social media tools. Curious, I looked into it and was surprised it related to Republican candidate Mitt Romney discussing the gender pay gap.

Specifically the question was “In what new ways do you plan to rectify the inequalities in the work place, specifically regarding females making only 72% of what their male counterparts earned.” Take a look for yourself:

I was not impressed with Romney’s answer as he started discussing a personal instance where he realises all of his staff were men. I don’t think recognising one instance of gender inequality makes for a well justified answer. It seems neither are Americans as they use his phrase “binders of women” to poke fun at him.

Did you see the debate? How did you feel the candidates dealt with the issue of the gender pay gap? Feel free to let your comments known here.

Comments From You

Holly Combe // Posted 17 October 2012 at 7:01 pm

I haven’t yet seen the whole debate so thanks for flagging this up. Worryingly, Romney makes it sound like the concept of inequality in the workplace is relatively new to him. I agree with the critique that he seems to think merely recognising the problem, claiming to ask for/look at a list of names and then paying lip service to the idea of flexible working will prompt women to vote for him.

Lucy // Posted 18 October 2012 at 4:12 pm

I think Romney’s response is downright offensive to women in a lot of ways:

(a) the ‘anecdote’ he uses to illustrate how he made ‘a concerted effort’ to hire female staff (please note the word concerted here – that in itself has a really strange ring to it, like he is trying to say women would never even dream of applying for a senior position) has really sexist undertones. ‘Why are all the applicants male?’ – ‘These are the people who have the qualifications.’ Meaning, women just aren’t qualified. Couldn’t be. They are not interested in anything but childbearing and cooking dinner…

(b) ‘I have to get home to cook dinner for my children’ – or my husband…because this is my primary goal in life, to be cooking dinner. This is what truly makes me happy as a woman. RIGHT? RIGHT?

(c) Okay, I can’t ignore it – ‘They brought me binders full of women?’ If someone played me that phrase, and asked me what I thought they meant, I wouldn’t even have to think about it. Sounds like he was asking for lad’s mags. In fact he very well might have been. No wonder he had trouble finding qualified female applicants.

Josephine Tsui // Posted 18 October 2012 at 4:27 pm

Agree Lucy!

Is Romney saying he only just realised that the entire work place was full of men?

–> The issue that only men are qualified. We are now in an age where women are outnumbering men in universities.

Reading your comment, made me feel that he picked bad examples. But he doesn’t have a good understanding of it which is why he picked bad examples.

However it has been noted that gender issues are not Romney’s strong point.

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