Thursday, October 18, 2012

"If" you're going to have women in the workforce?

Remember when Barbara Bush went to visit Katrina refugees in Houston and said, "So many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway. So, this, this is working very well for them." And we all thought, "Hmmmm. Maybe it's time to stop putting Grandma on a live mike without a script." Because she had no idea how racist and dismissive her comment sounded.

I was reminded of that during the debate on Tuesday when Romney said,
I recognized that if you're going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible. My chief of staff, for instance, had two kids that were still in school. She said, I can't be here until 7 or 8 o'clock at night. I need to be able to get home at 5 o'clock so I can be there for making dinner for my kids and being with them when they get home from school. So we said fine. Let's have a flexible schedule so you can have hours that work for you.
Forget about the "binders of women" for a minute. Can we just unpack this quote?

Bully for you, Governor, that you hired a female chief of staff. But was she the only person in the office with school-aged kids living at home? Seems unlikely. Seems like the underlying assumptions of this statement are:
  1. Women in the workforce is a more recent invention than the iPhone.
  2. Women bear sole responsibility for childcare.
  3. Men with small children require no accommodations for family time, because this is just not their department.
  4. Being female is an impairment to working which will require employers to make accommodations, as they do for persons with disabilities.
  5. These accommodations for family time are a gift from employers to employees, not something which should be enshrined as a legal right.
Gee, thanks.

Does he think he invented flex-time? Atlantic's piece by Anne-Marie Slaughter, Why Women Still Can't Have It All was the most clicked on story they've ever run. Work-life balance - it's even bigger than yoga, Mitt!

Does it even have to be said that men and women both bear responsibility for raising kids? That women will never reach professional parity if they are treated like oddballs who can't really pull their weight? That this attitude also stigmatizes men who want to take an active role in their children's lives?

Sadly, yes. Today's $5 is for the National Partnership for Women and Families.

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