On Tuesday night, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney responded to a question about gender pay inequality, and told the public that when he had been looking for people to fill his staff as Governor most of potential employees were men. He thought there should be more women and asked his hiring team to get look for some and they came back with “whole binders full of women”. Romney has a knack of being contradictory and saying things that prompt self-crucifixion, however this statement pointed to something that is strikingly crucial in our modern society.
Where are those “binders full of women” in politics? Shoot, forget politics. Where are they in the boardrooms? In the CEO seats? As community leaders? In local governance? Let’s look at the hard facts. In 2010, only 2.4% of the U.S. Fortune 500 CEOs were female. And when we look at the reflection of ourselves as women of color, the numbers are even more depressing. Of all employed people African-American women make up on 5.3% of management and professional roles. Latinas are only 3.9% and Asian American women are only 2.7%.*
This is why now is the right time for us to step up and stay up. Now is the time for us to be a bauce.
Romney’s crap-shoot phrase raises a major question as to how we as women are leading our lives professionally. So many of us find ourselves in stunted positions, unsure of what our professional growth could be. Too many of us as women are too afraid to step beyond roles of subordination (assistant that, secretary to who, associate this) and rise to the great leaders that we are known to be. We automatically begin to fantasize the worst in the office, create negative realities for ourselves before they ever happen, prohibiting us from taking a seat with the big boys.
There are “binders full of women” in the world that posses amazing skills and can outdo the work of many men. There are great leaders like Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton that prove that there is more to the double X chromosome then a pretty dress and hands that know how to iron and cook. Romney’s response was sexist in making but also should remind us of how far we have to go together as women. In order to bring more women to the big table we have to be willing to help sisters out as they come along – mentor and uplift each other by passing wisdom on to those that make mistakes or need encouragement. As women we need that desperately, so one day we can have binders full of men begging to dance in our hemisphere.