Thanks, Sweetheart

black and white image of female secretary with typewriterTwo posts in one day? Yes!

By now much hay has been made about Mitt Romney’s response about pay equity for women in this Tuesday’s debate. I’m going to make some more!

Throughout this discussion, I’ll be drawing directly from the official transcripts posted on the Commission on Presidential Debates’ website.

The question, posed first to Obama was “In what new ways do you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?” The President answered, and then Crowley followed up with: “Governor Romney, pay equity for women?”

What followed was nothing short of fascinating. It included lies, evasions, condescension and anachronisms. Let’s dig in.

Romney began his response with an anecdote having nothing to do with pay equity and which by most accounts was at best an exaggeration and at worst an outright lie.

An important topic, and one which I learned a great deal about, particularly as I was serving as governor of my state, because I had 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 they brought us whole binders full of women.

Yes, this was the now infamous “binders full of women” line that exploded all over the Internet. But that isn’t the most important part. He wasn’t being honest! By his account, Romney was a hero, specifically seeking out qualified female candidates for his cabinet. The truth is, the process of placing females in his administration was begun even before the election, by a group known called Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP). MassGAP was formed to address the shortage of women in high-ranking government positions in the state, and they reached out to both candidates prior to the election. The binders full of women were real, though.

“There were actual binders involved,” Levin [chairperson of MassGAP at the time] said. “Big binders. They were big. It was before stuff was done, like it is now, electronically.”

Romney appointed his incoming (female) lieutenant governor Kerry Healey to work with the group, and he did make an effort to hire more women. In the beginning he increased the number of women in high-ranking positions. But by the end of his term, that number fell below what it was before he took office.

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overjoyedThis just in: I have a job! I don’t start until next month, but I have received and accepted a written offer of employment. What a load off!

I left my last job in the middle of May. It’s been a difficult few months. Fortunately I have savings, and a supportive partner, so I made it through without living like a pauper. But watching my bank account balance shrink steadily, with no end in sight, was scary. I’d never been unemployed before, really. I have worked more or less steadily since the middle of high school, when I got a part-time job working for a local photography studio doing digital retouching and other fun stuff. I found a work study job shortly after arriving on campus when I went to college, and I got an internship (which turned into my first full time job) my last summer before graduating.

I’ve always been very independent. With scholarships, student loans and work study jobs, I supported myself through college with virtually no financial help from my parents. I do not come from money. In fact, when my parents bought me a new computer to take to school with me (I remember, it was a 166MHz Pentium…ooh!) they borrowed the money from me, and paid me back over a year or two! Computers were not cheap back then. So, it was tough for me to have to rely on anyone else. For a few months I was in the 47%, and I wanted badly to get out of it. I bet Mitt Romney, up in his gilded tower, doesn’t realize how many people just pass through that territory temporarily when they hit a rough spot, or enter it when they retire after a lifetime of hard work.

Looking for a job these days is among the least pleasant things one can do in the developed world. It can be mind-numbing, soul-crushing, and self-esteem-destroying. I couldn’t count the number of times I submitted a resume and heard absolutely nothing back. I even had an in-person interview and was never contacted by the company after. What happened to common courtesy? At least a few employers had the decency to send me a form email thanking me for my submission, but telling me they didn’t have a position for me at this time. Those were the exceptions. The vast majority of the time it was like tossing your resume into a black hole. There were jobs I was sure I could do that I wasn’t even being considered for. After awhile I started to think I’d never find anything, that no one would hire me for something that I wanted to do. I doubted my own worth as an employee and as a person. At times I wanted to give up, but I couldn’t. It was just incredibly frustrating!

In the end, this employer found me, through my profile on LinkedIn. In fact, every real job I’ve had, the employer has contacted me, usually after finding my resume on a job site. Never have I found my own job. Even for my job in high school, I was approached by a teacher who was asked by the employer to recommend someone. I’m not sure what that means, but it’s an interesting factoid.

Well, the search is over and I’ll have a steady paycheck in a few weeks. I can now rest easy for a bit. If I’ve learned one thing from this experience, it’s that unemployment is something I never want to go through again.