Even Slate Magazine’s feminist blog, Double X, which was co-founded by Hanna Rosin, who recently authored The End of Men, thinks the “binders full of women” meme is stupid. Amanda Hess wrote on October 17 that she “agree[s] that Romney’s positions on health care, contraception, and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act will do nothing to help women…binders stocked with intelligence on top-shelf female candidates, though? I’m cool with those. In a rush to discredit Romney’s position entirely, commenters are strangely spinning his underlying point—when female candidates don’t apply for jobs, employers should find them, and hire them about half the time—as somehow anti-feminist.”
Now, some groups, such as the bipartisan MassGap, noted that these “binders” were assembled before Romney was elected Governor, but it’s beside the point “because binders from feminist groups are easy for governors to trash,” according to Hess. In all, Hess is “more interested in what he [Romney] did with those candidates…[he] ‘appointed 14 women out of his top 33 senior-level appointments,’ which…is ‘reasonably impressive.’ Romney’s lieutenant governor and chief of staff were both women. That puts Romney’s record on hiring womenwell above the national average. Binders full of women mean cabinets full of women.” I know, Romney is such a sexist, misogynist pig.
Granted, Hess refers to American politics as old boys’ club, but noted that Romney’s binder’s model could help women become more engaged in politics. She cites “Women & Politics Institute Director Jennifer Lawless has found a serious discrepancy among how similarly-qualified men and women in political pipeline industries—law, policy, finance—rate their own viability as candidates….when Lawless talks to these reluctant women, she finds they have three major justifications for not throwing their hats into the ring: family responsibilities, self-doubt, and a lack of encouragement from above. Mitt Romney’s binders can help resolve two of those issues.”
In all, Hess “still found it powerful to watch the country’s most prominent Republican businessman and politician stand in front of millions of Americans and announce that stacking the deck with female candidates is not at odds with the capitalist impulse.”