October 19, 2012
A Stolen Idea
Joan Williams (Hastings) and Katherine Ullman write in Psychology Today about how Mitt Romney's "binders of women" concept represents a pernicious but often overlooked form of sex discrimination. Here's an excerpt:
What Romney did the other night was a very public example of "The Stolen Idea," a phenomenon women regularly face at work. Here's how it usually happens on the ground: A woman mentions a potential solution to a problem in a meeting, perhaps timidly so as not to seem overly aggressive, and her idea is largely ignored. Minutes later, a male colleague pipes up and slightly rephrases the woman's idea to the group; the group is impressed with the idea, and agrees to implement it. The man is commended for his problem-solving skills and creativity.
... Mitt Romney took credit for the hard work of MassGAP—a bi-partisan coalition committed to increasing the number of women leaders within the Massachusetts government—which is the group actually responsible for the infamous "binders." According to a study the group co-authored with the University of Massachusetts' Center for Women in Politics & Public Policy, 42 percent percent of the new gubernatorial appointments made by Governor Romney between 2002 and 2004 were women. This was not because Governor Romney looked around and asked, "Where are the women?" This was because an organization dedicated to women's advancement took an active role in recruiting qualified women candidates prior to and following the results of the 2002 gubernatorial election.
Despite MassGAP's successes in the first years of the Romney administration, the percentage of new female appointees later fell to about 25 percent; Romney ended his tenure as governor with fewer women in senior-level positions than when he started. Of this, the report co-authored by MassGAP advised, "Continued efforts should be made to monitor administrations throughout the full course of a governor's term." This does not sound like a leader committed to appointing binders upon binders of women.
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