One of the most curious of Mitt Romney’s falsehoods in last night’s debate arose in his account of how he dealt with the dearth of women in Massachusetts state government.
“We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet,” Romney said.
“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women.”
David S. Bernstein of the Boston Phoenix BEGS TO DIFFER:
Not a true story.
What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor.
They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected.
Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent. However, as I have reported before, those were almost all to head departments and agencies that he didn’t care about — and in some cases, that he quite specifically wanted to not really do anything. None of the senior positions Romney cared about — budget, business development, etc. — went to women.
Secondly, a UMass-Boston study found that the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006. (It then began rapidly rising when Deval Patrick took office.)
Third, note that in Romney’s story as he tells it, this man who had led and consulted for businesses for 25 years didn’t know any qualified women, or know where to find any qualified women. So what does that say?
Garance Franke-Ruta of The Atlantic adds THIS:
Romney did a good job appointing women to high office in the context of a bipartisan statewide push to get him to do so as a new governor, but a terrible job in finding and promoting women to senior roles in the context of the high-paying private-sector business he built himself. That may be why, by his own admission, his social power network when he came into office led to an all-male pool of job applicants. And as any woman with a job knows, getting the job is not the same a being paid the same amount as male colleagues for it — the question on the table before Romney Tuesday night, and one he ultimately punted on.