While progressives slaver over President-elect Obama, methinks I'm seeing signs from the administration- and first lady-elect that speak volumes about their attitudes toward women's advancement.
Sign No. 1: Former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers tops the list of treasury secretary possibilities in the Obama administration. Forget the fact that Summers is the consummate Washington insider from a group that promised "change." Summers also served in the same post under President Clinton, whom Obama has conspicuously sought not to emulate. Most important, however, is that Summers was drummed out of Harvard University's presidency for unnecessary and sexist characterizations of women's innate intellectual abilities.
NOW President Kim Gandy has been quoted as saying she's troubled by the Summers consideration.
I go beyond troubled and call the fact Summers's name surfaced a downright insult to women. The NOW website contains a more serious attack against the man, lodged while he was still president of Harvard and fighting to stay on:
"Summers' suggestion that women are inferior to men in their ability to excel at math and science is more than an example of personal sexism, it is a clue to why women have not been more fully accepted and integrated into the tenured faculty at Harvard since he has been president," said NOW President Kim Gandy. According to reports, the number of female faculty receiving tenure has declined over the past four years--down to just four of the last 32 tenure offers in the school's Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Besides, when the highly influential former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker is available, apparently on a short-term basis anyway, why should Summers's name even surface?
Meanwhile Michelle Obama is downplaying her incredible educational and professional credentials, telling the media:
"My first job, in all honesty, is going to continue to be 'mom-in-chief,'" [Michelle Obama] has said repeatedly, referring to her daughters Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7.
Granted, her personal choices are hers to make. But as a career woman, I think it's a shame and a setback for us all that Michelle Obama publicly belittles her professional side as she enters the culturally influential first lady spot. I'm not suggesting she emulate Hillary Clinton's "buy one get one free" approach. But Mrs. Obama is perfectly capable of keeping her own independent career going while being a "mom in chief" at the same time.
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By Bonnie Erbe