by Imran Siddiquee
“Why should women have any less say than men, about the great decisions facing our nation?” – Mitt Romney, August 30th, 2012
The highlight of Mitt Romney’s RNC speech last night was the mention of his mother, Lenore Romney, who ran for Senate in 1970. With tears in his eyes, he reflected on how happy she might have been to see the Republican party’s line-up of powerful women speaking on stage this week.
“I wish she could have been here at the convention and heard leaders like Governor Mary Fallin, Governor Nikki Haley, Governor Susana Martinez, Senator Kelly Ayotte and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. As Governor of Massachusetts, I chose a woman Lt. Governor, a woman chief of staff, half of my cabinet and senior officials were women, and in business, I mentored and supported great women leaders who went on to run great companies,” Romney said.
This followed two key speeches earlier in the night meant to bolster his claims, from the aforementioned former Lt. Governor of Massachusetts Kerry Healey as well as former Massachusetts Secretary of Workforce Development Jane Edmonds. Edmonds in particular emphasized Romney’s record of appointing women to elite positions within the MA political system (even if by the end of his tenure some of those percentages had declined).
Which left me wondering, might Romney actually hire more women to his Presidential staff than Obama? The current President’s group of insiders has previously been criticized for being a “boy’s club” As Amy Sullivan writes in TIME, “Obama himself is responsible for a work atmosphere that marginalizes and ignores women.”
Yet while Romney’s past might suggest an opportunity to see changes in the White House’s gender breakdown, the Republican party’s current state suggests the opposite. Here’s a look at who actually represented them on the final (and biggest) night of the Convention, leading up to Romney’s major speech.
Women were 17.6% of the faces people saw speaking on stage, which is actually a higher percentage than what the party has in Congress (about 10% of current Republican Senators and Representatives are female). Each day of the convention seemed to feature fewer and fewer female voices – despite the messaging that attempted to paint the party as being very inclusive of women.
So, if Romney were elected, would he replicate what he did in Massachusetts and have a senior cabinet of 50% women? Or would he follow the lead of his party and continue to under represent half the population?
In any case, we’ll be watching President Obama and the Democrats next week to see if and how they respond.
Written by Imran Siddiquee at MissRepresentation.org. Follow him on Twitter @imransiddiquee