1.) He didn’t actually answer the question.
Audience member Katherine Fenton asked, “In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” In response, Romney talked about going the extra mile to find women to serve in his Massachusetts gubernatorial cabinet; about providing flexible work schedules so women can meet their family obligations (as if men don’t have those too?); and about strengthening the economy to create more jobs. He said nothing about pay inequity.
2.) The binders thing isn’t entirely true.
The Boston Globe reports that the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project was compiling this information and reached out to the gubernatorial candidates before Romney was even elected – they went to him, not vice versa. The Globe also reports:
Midway through his four-year term, 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women, according to a study done by the UMass Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy using some of the data collected by MassGAP.
But over the next two years, women made up only 25 percent of the 64 new appointments Romney made. By the end of his term, the number of women in high-ranking positions was slightly lower than it was before Romney took office.
3.) Regardless of who went to whom, he made an amazing admission.
“An 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?’”
It sounds as if Romney set a policy in which he took gender into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group in employment, as a means of countering the effects of a history of discrimination.
There’s a name for that: affirmative action. But he was panned for his affirmative action record as Massachusetts’s governor, and it’s not a concept that’s popular with a lot of conservatives.