Mitt Romney's 'Binders Full of Women' Phrase Sparks Internet Meme
"Binders Full of Women" is this week’spresidential debate meme. The minute Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romneysaid the phrase on Tuesday, social media exploded. And women’s issues, which were absent in the first debate on Oct. 3, were front and center Tuesday night as the first woman in 20 years, CNN’s Candy Crowley, moderated the town hall forum.
The phrase was part of Romney's answer to a question from an audience member at the second presidential debate about how he would "rectify the inequalities in the workplace."
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“And I said, ‘Well, gosh, can’t we -- can’t we find some -- some women that are also qualified?' And so 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.”
Those “binders full of women” actually came from a coalition called Massachusetts Government Appointments Project, or MassGAP, that had formed in August 2002 to address the shortage of women in high-ranking government positions. They had started assembling groups of applicants, taking several months to reach out to women’s organizations around the state and preparing to present potential hires to whichever candidate won the election.
Romney agreed to work with the group and he appointed Kerry Healey, the incoming lieutenant governor, to be the liaison to MassGAP. Several weeks after the election, they presented several hundred applicants to Healey, who is an Obama supporter but stressed that MassGAP is a bipartisan group.
And yes, there were binders.
“There were actual binders involved,” Healey said. “Big binders. They were big. It was before stuff was done, like it is now, electronically.”
The binders had several tabs, she said, dividing the applicants into different areas of state government, such as education, transportation, or public safety.
Romney did have several women in prominent positions, such as Beth Myers, as chief of staff, or Healey, as lieutenant governor, and he made an effort to hire more women.
Midway through his four-year term, 42 percent of his 33 new appointments were women, according to a study done by the UMass Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy using some of the data collected by MassGAP.