In the second presidential debate, a question about equal pay exposed Mitt Romney for his condescending views toward women in the workplace. Rather than tell voters that he opposed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, Romney offered an awkward anecdote about the “binders full of women” he supposedly used to fill his cabinet in Massachusetts. Not only is his “binders” remark wildly dismissive, it’s “not a true story.” As the Boston Phoenix reports, Romney never asked for a binder of qualified female candidates.
In fact, Gov. Romney’s record on appointing qualified women to serve in senior positions paints tells a very different tale from the one he weaves on stage. Here’s a look at what happened under the governor:
The percentage of women in senior positions declined: According to a Umass-Boston study, the percentage of of senior-level appointed positions held by women declined from 30% to 27.6% by the end of Romney’s term. A second study showed that women made up just 25% of the 64 new appointments Romney made from 2004 to 2006. By contrast, Romney’s successor Gov. Deval Patrick appointed women to 45% of his 60 new appointments in his first few months in office.
Men replaced more women than women replaced men: Columnist David Bernstein noted that, “be it budget or business development, none of the senior positions Romney cared about went to women.” The number of women serving in economic offices actually dropped from 46% when he began to 31% when he left. A study showed that Romney often appointed a woman to positions that had already been held by a woman. And over the course of his term, “men replaced more women than women replaced men”—a fact that “helps explain the lack of overall growth in women’s representation in top positions.”
Fewer women held appointed positions on boards and commissions: Under Gov. Romney, the percentage of women holding appointed positions on boards and commissions dropped from 35.3% in 2002 to 23.9% in 2006—Romney’s last year in office.
Fewer female judges were appointed: Gov. Romney only named 4 women in his first three years in office,and eventually 18 out of 65 judges he appointed were women when he left office. As the Boston Herald reported, “a number of women with lengthy trial experience and deep knowledge of the state court system [were] passed over by Romney, despite a thorough vetting of their credentials and background.” The Women’s Bar Association even noted that it was “very concerned over Gov. Romney’s failure to appoint women and minorities to judicial positions.”
Responding to Romney’s tall tale in the debate, Massgroup—the organization that actually prepared the binders—confirmed that the number of women employed in senior-level positions did indeed drop under Gov. Romney, even with his “binders full of women” at hand.
Romney may try to bury his positions under out-of-touch anecdotes and desperate dodges, but he cannot run from his record. When it comes promoting and protecting to the economic security of women in America, the choice could not be more clear.