"We, as a nation, want so badly for this Binders Full of Women joke to work," Mercury contributor Suzette Smith tweeted this morning. Correct! People are really trying to make it work. HOWEVER. Before you dress as a binder for Halloween (I think I got that joke from NPR this morning!) you should familiarize yourself with the details of why, exactly, Romney's statement was so dumb. He's what he said:
We took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. 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.
And here's what the Boston Phoenix's David S. Bernstein says:
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.
Bernstein goes on to note that while "Romney did appoint 14 women out of his first 33 senior-level appointments, which is a reasonably impressive 42 percent... None of the senior positions Romney cared about—budget, business development, etc. —went to women." After pointing out that the number of "senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration," he adds maybe the best part:
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.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!