Carly Fiorina as the Lone Woman Onstage Won’t Save the GOP

Carly Fiorina only woman on GOP debate stageWere the women at Hewlett-Packard paid and promoted equally with men while Carly Fiorina was CEO? Who knows? The company never made any such information public.

It was down to the wire before a decision was made to include Carly Fiorina, the only woman in the race, in this week’s Republican presidential debate. Fiorina gained some traction in the second-string opener last month, giving her enough momentum to join the boys on the big stage this time.

Will a woman in the prime-time lineup help the Republican cause? It could, since one skirt would break the monotony of male faces in dark suits and red ties, and some people think she’s the only one willing to confront Donald Trump‘s misogyny head-on. But wardrobe and sparring ability aside, it depends much more on how she appeals to the majority of voters — other women.

That’s where it gets dicey for the lone female on the stage. So far her position on so-called “women’s issues” has mostly been a black box except for her opposition to abortion. She once claimed that she leads on pay equity — consistently a top concern for women. But she didn’t say how she leads on it. Were the women at Hewlett-Packard paid and promoted equally with men while she was CEO? Who knows? The company never made any such information public.

Reaching to the bottom of the wage barrel, where most of the of the lowest paid workers happen to be female, Fiorina admits women still bear a disproportionate burden of poverty. But she’s against raising the minimum wage, claiming it will hurt entry level workers. Maybe the crack ex-executive needs to bone up on her national statistics. Adult women working in fast food, home health care, child care, housekeeping, and similar jobs make up the overwhelming majority of minimum wage workers. And their mid-level sisters? Fiorina’s also against the Paycheck Fairness Act.

As for other issues like paid family leave and keeping Social Security intact that would make the lives of women better, her campaign statements are resoundingly silent.

To paraphrase Ann Richards, a great pro-woman politician from the past: You can put lipstick on a candidate and call her a contender — but she’s still an anti-woman conservative.

Martha Burk is the author of Your Voice, Your Vote: The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Power, Politics and the Change We Need! and Cult of Power: The Inside Story of the Fight to Open Augusta National Golf Club, and How It Exposed the Ingrained Corporate Sexism That Kept Women Down.

Image via DonkeyHotey/CC License

Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Hillary Clinton, Shake It Off, Taylor Swift, Hillary Clinton Campaign song
Six Reasons “Shake It Off” Should Be Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Theme Song
Nancy Reagan dies, Just Say No, Ronald Reagan
A Not-So-Positive Ode to Nancy Reagan’s Frothy “Just Say No” Campaign
I Married for Health Insurance
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Why I Wrote “Trumping And Drinking”
A Case of Nixonian Deja Vu
Trump Reality Check, Now with Actual Facts!
Fascism Facts
I Married for Health Insurance
Get Over Yourselves. We’re All Rory Gilmore
Post-Election Munchies: What is Your Grief Snack of Choice?
Women’s Elections Rights in Saudi Arabia: A Token Drop in an Abysmal Bucket & the Plight of Women Under Sharia Law
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
Paris attacks, Paris terrorism
Is Paris Burning?
Chinese government and women's reproductive rights, adopting Chinese girls, international adoption
Dear Xi Jinping, I Am Writing to You as an American Mom of a 19-Year-Old Chinese Daughter
The Vital Voice of Hillary Clinton: Part 1
Maybe It Wasn’t Rape: Emerging Matriarchy and the Altering of Women’s Past Sexual Narratives
The Eyes Have It!
Ashley Madison, Jared Fogle, sex, rape, sexual affairs
Ashley Madison vs. Jared Fogle: Rape, Sex and Hacking in America
women's viagra, Viagra, Flibanserin, sexual arousal, women's desire, sex after menopause
That “Little Pink Pill” Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up to Be

Get our new weekly email
Broadly Speaking

featuring our best words for the week + an exclusive longread