The binder. Photo from MassGap.Org, the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus
WASHINGTON--Mitt Romney's "whole binders full of women" statement at the Hofstra debate--now at the center of a fight with President Barack Obama for female voters: what exactly was he talking about? Here's the background.
WHAT ROMNEY SAID:
Asked about pay equity for women, Romney turned to discussing his hiring of women after he was elected governor of Massachusetts.
"I had the -- 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?
"And -- and so we -- 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 I brought us whole binders full of -- of women."
Before the 2002 election for governor in Massachusetts, a drive to increase the number of women appointees in state government was already underway, run by the Massachusetts Government Appointment Project, known as MassGap. The non-partisan group was pro-active; assembling female resumes before the election, in order to have viable names to present to the winner.
THE ROMNEY MASSACHUSETTS HIRING RECORD:
According to MassGap, "Prior to the 2002 election, women comprised approximately 30 percent of appointed senior-level positions in Massachusetts government. By 2004, 42 percent of the new appointments made by the Romney administration were women. Subsequently, however, from 2004-2006 the percentage of newly-appointed women in these senior appointed positions dropped to 25 percent."
Below, MassGap statement....
MassGAP Statement on Presidential Debate
BOSTON - At the presidential debate last night, questions arose regarding how women candidates were identified for potential appointment to leadership roles by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. What follows details the process that was created by the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus in 2002 to maximize opportunities for women to be considered for key roles in Massachusetts government.
The Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP) was founded under the leadership of the MA Women's Political Caucus in 2002 to address the issue of the under-representation of women in appointed positions in Massachusetts government. MassGAP brought together a nonpartisan coalition of over 25 women's organizations to recruit women to apply for government positions within the administration, and recommend qualified women for those positions.
Prior to the 2002 gubernatorial election, MassGAP approached the campaigns of candidates Shannon O'Brien and Mitt Romney and asked them both to commit to: (1)."Make best efforts" to ensure that the number of women in appointed state positions is proportionate to the population of women in Massachusetts; (2). Select a transition team whose composition is proportionate to the women in the Commonwealth; and (3). Meet with MassGAP representatives regularly during the appointments process.
Both campaigns made a commitment to this process.
Following the election, MassGAP formed committees for each cabinet post in the administration and began the process of recruiting, interviewing, and vetting women applicants. Those committees selected top applicants for each position and presented this information to the administration for follow-up interviews and consideration for appointment.
Prior to the 2002 election, women comprised approximately 30 percent of appointed senior-level positions in Massachusetts government. By 2004, 42 percent of the new appointments made by the Romney administration were women. Subsequently, however, from 2004-2006 the percentage of newly-appointed women in these senior appointed positions dropped to 25 percent
MassGAP is proud to have the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus as our lead sponsor and we are grateful to all of the women who have devoted their time and energy to making this project a continued success. The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization founded in 1971 to increase the number of women elected and appointed to public office and public policy positions and to maximize the participation of women of all ages in the political process.
About the Massachusetts Government Appointments Project:
The Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP) was founded in 2002 as a non-partisan coalition of women's groups whose purpose is to increase the number of women appointed by the new governor to senior-level cabinet positions, agency heads and selected authorities and commissions in the Commonwealth. The Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus (MWPC) is the Lead Sponsor of this coalition. The current MassGAP co-chairs are Amy Burke and Lauren Stiller Rikleen.