…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

On Anxiously Seeking Women in Binders

October 17th, 2012 . by economistmom

So of course, the world is all “atwitter” about the “binders full of women” comment (in the CNN video embedded above; here’s the transcript for reference–just search “binders”).

Yes, the visual was ridiculous, and the comedians are going to have a field day with this (beyond the field days ordinary bloggers and tweeters have already had).  But the whole exchange bugged me more than amused me.  I was bothered by the suggestion that this is how women get hired to high positions: employers have it pointed out to them (even via talking to themselves) that the first-round “qualified” applicants are all men. So they are told to go look for more women–to collect the resumes in “binders”–because they don’t already know these women to be qualified the first time around; they only think those women “could be qualified” in their looking again.  And they have to become “anxious” enough to hire so many more people such that the women can finally rise over the bar.  Well, yukk to all that.  I don’t find it so funny, and I hope I am never hired by someone who found me only in a “binder.”

Still, I look forward to the SNL version.  :)

14 Responses to “On Anxiously Seeking Women in Binders”

  1. comment number 1 by: Chris M

    It’s worse than that. The story was a blatant falsehood.

  2. comment number 2 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘I am never hired by someone who found me only in a “binder.”’

    According to Chris M, it was women who produced the binders for Romney. He was supposed to turn them down because ‘binders’ are undignified?

  3. comment number 3 by: AMTbuff

    Seeking women in blinders? Isn’t that something ugly guys would do?

    Oh, it was binders… Never mind…

  4. comment number 4 by: Brooks / Gordon


    I once heard a female radio show host give a (legitimate news) report on concerns that Viagra could cause blindness. She then remarked “That’s my fantasy world: a bunch of blind guys walking around with erections!”

  5. comment number 5 by: john personna

    For what it’s worth, I think many of us got the sexism of it from the start, and that is part of what is driving the humor.

  6. comment number 6 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    It’s sexist to put resumes in binders?

  7. comment number 7 by: AMTbuff

    I find it pathetic but mildly amusing that liberals everywhere are echoing the binders discussion. Don’t they have anything substantive to discuss? Don’t they realize how idiotic they look when they focus on trivia?

    The same is true for conservatives who make a big deal out of Obama’s “not optimal” phrase. Give me a break. Elections are about policy, not about who can avoid infelicitous phrasing.

  8. comment number 8 by: Jim Glass

    “On Anxiously Seeking Women in Binders”

    When I first saw this I thought it was referring to something that would be pretty much on the kinky side for a Mormon.

    “I find it pathetic but mildly amusing that liberals everywhere are echoing the binders discussion. Don’t they have anything substantive to discuss?”

    Well, there’s always saving the jobs of Big Bird and the puppeteer lobby, and making fun of the other candidate’s name (”Romnesia!… Romnesia!”)

    I didn’t watch the debates, but of the clips most often served up to me on the news the one that grabbed me was:

    Romney to Obama, trying to make a point about how pension funds are invested: “Look at how much is in your pension account…”

    Obama rapidly interrupting and shooting back: “I don’t know how much there is, but there’s a lot more in yours”.

    Which (1) ducked a substantive issue by switching to a personal attack, (2) the attack being “You are successful in the market economy”, that being a slur.

    And it was so rapid and vehement it sure seemed either planned-and-practiced or instinctual on Obama’s part. Or possibly both, of course.

  9. comment number 9 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘Don’t they have anything substantive to discuss?’

    Mark Steyn was very funny on this;

    ‘Yes!!!!!!! With one bound, Obama was unbound! Romney had just made the worst presidential-debate gaffe since Gerald Ford declared there was no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. In the previous weeks, Obama had attempted to have a serious conversation with the citizenry, as befits the electoral process of a mature republic. He had raised the critical questions of our time – free contraceptives for middle-aged coeds, the outrageous right-wing Muppophobic assault on Big Bird – but the public had failed to bite. Now, in one fatal error, Romney had handed him the winning issue: binders!’

  10. comment number 10 by: Vivian Darkbloom

    Jim Glass,

    Your recollection of that exchange is not precisely correct:

    Here is the relevant transcript, per Politifact:

    Here’s how it came up: Early in the face-off, Obama scoffed at Mitt Romney’s pledge to crack down on unfair trading practices by China, saying Romney is currently invested in companies “that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks.”

    Romney later explained that, yes, he understands that his blind trust has invested in foreign firms, including companies in China. Then he confronted Obama.

    Romney: “Mr. President, have you looked at your pension? Have you looked at your pension?”

    Obama: “You know, I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours so it doesn’t take as long. I don’t check it that often.”

    Romney: “Let me give you some advice. Look at your pension. You also have investments in Chinese companies. You also have investments outside the United States. You also have investments through a Caymans trust.”

    So, Romney never directly asked Obama “how much” was in the latter’s pension account—his comment was directed at whether there were any foreign investments in that account.

    The answer was, of course, contradictory and evasive on several levels. First, while “it doesn’t take long” to look at the account—he claimed he doesn’t do it! Second, while it presmuably takes much longer to look at Romney’s pension, Obama and his advisors take quite a bit of time out of their busy schedules to carefully examine it for foreign investments (Romney and his folks have time to look at both!). Finally, Romney never asked him “how much” was in the account, but whether the account had any foreign assets. The “how much” answer was Obama’s effective evasion.

    According to the Monday morning pundits, this exchange was presumably one of Obama’s strongest and most effective comments.

  11. comment number 11 by: Jim Glass

    According to the Monday morning pundits, this exchange was presumably one of Obama’s strongest and most effective comments.

    Not by the impact it had on me, via the 10-second sound bites I saw on the news. (I didn’t get any of those contextual details, so thanks for all that.)

    Though I’m sure I wasn’t their target. Though as an independent my whole life who’s always been willing to vote for either party, maybe I should be.

    I take it that it wasn’t hugely effective on you either, in spite of you seeing the whole thing.

    Yet it was “most effective” for a lot of people, I don’t doubt it. I wonder how they worked that out.

    I used to do a lot of work with one of the most successful direct marketing firms in the country, and sat in on a lot of their meetings. They had really impressive numbers on “A will get a x% response from this slice of the population, B will get y% from that slice…” I mean, the level of detail was amazing.

    I”m sure the politicos have advanced this to Nth level. I’d love to sit in on some of their meetings, just for the experience. Either party.

  12. comment number 12 by: Patrick R. Sullivan

    ‘Yet it was “most effective” for a lot of people, I don’t doubt it. ‘

    All named Rachel, Ed, Chris….

  13. comment number 13 by: Brooks / Gordon

    I concur with others re: the unfortunate pettiness of much of this campaign, with both sides and the news media to blame (and arguably the public, insofar as we assume the media is serving up what the public prefers).

    And I agree with the examples offered above (and of course there’s much more). Focusing on “optimal” is silly. And, although I think Romney is bullsh-tting on the ways he’d “get tough with China”, it is silly (and worse) for Obama to imply that Romney wouldn’t do what he thought was important for the country just because it could cost him a few bucks personally, not to mention that it is (I think) a blind trust (notwithstanding that this investment is known). The only possibly legitimate argument Obama could have been making was that Romney doesn’t mean he’ll do what he says he’ll do, because if Romney believed he would get so tough on China he wouldn’t have made that/those investment(s), but again, (I think) it’s a blind trust, and Obama is apparently in roughly the same situation as Romney pointed out.

    And I agree with Vivian that Obama’s remark re: his pension being smaller was a non sequitur, and it being a non sequitur suggests that Jim is correct that Obama’s point was that Romney’s real rich and that voters should count that against him, which I agree is lame.

    Some other “lowlights” of the debate that come to mind:

    - Obama praising himself for full withdrawal from Iraq, and attacking Romney for indicating we should have kept some troops in Iraq (Romney’s denial was disingenuous, by the way), when the only reason we didn’t keep at least 3,000 troops in Iraq is because Obama couldn’t get from the Iraqis legal immunity as part of a status of forces agreement, reportedly due to his Administration’s mishandling of this effort, per NYT reports
    And a nutshell version as debate fact-check by the same reporter
    Granted, it seems Romney wanted more troops there than Obama wanted, and Obama at one point specified quantities in his attack, but not in every case: he charged “You said that we should still have troops in Iraq to this day.” I don’t know if it gets much lamer than a president attacking his opponent for wanting something the president also wanted and sought but didn’t get, quite possibly because he screwed it up.

    - Romney’s flip on announcing a deadline for withdrawal of troop from Afghanistan, which he previously called all sorts of things indicating irresponsibility and lack of judgment on Obama’s part, with very bad consequences/risks for America.

    Of course, there’s more, and more from prior debates and the campaign generally.

  14. comment number 14 by: Brooks / Gordon

    As a note, in the above, I’m not making any comment re: any policy preference of mine (nor candidate preference), just noting (objectively, I think) lameness from each candidate.