During last night's debate, Mitt Romney was asked whether he supported the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. As he has done several times in the past, he refused to answer the question directly. He spoke instead about how, as governor, he thumbed through binders full of names of qualified women to appoint to his cabinet. Let's ignore his not-so-subtle implication that there weren't any well-qualified women around, necessitating special "binders" to be created by a women's advocacy group. Let's focus instead on the reason Governor Romney didn't know of any qualified women himself. After all, he didn't seem to need special binders full of men's names - he already had several men in mind before he took office. Most politicians appoint several people that they are familiar with through their professional and business contacts to serve as trusted advisors and confidantes. Cases in point: Romney chose Eric Kriss, who helped him form Bain Capital in 1984, to serve as his Secretary of Administration and Finance, and he chose another professional contact, Robert Pozen, Vice Chairman of Fidelity Investments, to serve as his Secretary of Economic Development. Romney didn't seem to have a group of female business contacts from which to draw, however. During Romney's tenure throughout the 80s and 90s, Bain Capital had no female partners; Romney apparently didn't give women an equal opportunity to excel and to lead. Therefore, when it came time to assemble a cabinet, he didn't know a single qualified woman, for the simple fact that he'd never exposed himself to any. After Mitt Romney's retirement, Bain Capital finally began appointing female executives; today, 7 out of its 87 executives are women, or 8%. (Banerjee). Clearly, Bain Capital was a boys' club under Romney's leadership, and his inability to think of any qualified female candidates to fill cabinet positions illustrates that fact. Had he surrounded himself with more than just men at Bain, and had he dealt with both men and women in a professional capacity, he would have had a few women in mind just as already had a few men in mind.
Governor Romney wants to become the leader of our nation, which is comprised of 50.8% women. How can he represent women and understand their needs when he has a history of insulating himself from them for most of his professional and personal life?
Banerjee, D. (Aug. 31, 2012). Romney's LBO World is Boy's Club With Few Women. Business Week. Retrieved from