Kellyanne Conway is the first woman to run a successful U.S. presidential campaign, but don’t wait for her to accept a position in the White House. While speaking at the Women Rule Summit in Washington, D.C., Conway said:
“My children are 12, 12, 8, and 7, which is bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea for mom going inside [the White House].”
Conway noted that turning down a job in the Trump administration “would be my personal choice and not a demand on me,” but also mentioned her response to male cabinet candidates who asked if she would consider a White House job.
“I do politely mention to them that the question isn’t ‘Would you take the job?’ — the male sitting across from me who’s about to take a big role in the White House — but ‘Would you want your wife to?’ And you really see their entire visage change. It’s like, oh, no, they wouldn’t want their wife to take that job.”
Conway also said:
“It’s a great time to be a woman in America. We’re products of our choices, not just our circumstances. We’re independent thinkers. And it’s just a very special time.”
Something doesn’t add up here.
Kellyanne Conway’s Contradictory Advice For Working Women
Women Can Do Anything…
On the one hand, Conway is saying that women can make choices for themselves, and not just let circumstances determine their lives and careers. Her choice not to seek a position in the White House isn’t necessarily at odds with this: there’s no reason why anyone, male or female, should feel compelled to go for a high-powered job over a chance to spend more time with their families. The problem isn’t with Conway’s personal choice — it’s with the implication she’s asking the audience to draw, when she says male cabinet picks agreed they wouldn’t want their wives to work in the White House.
…But They Probably Shouldn’t Take Jobs in the White House.
Conway says she hopes to “maybe help America’s women in terms of feeling less guilty about balancing life and career.” But by mentioning that her male colleagues would prefer their wives to have less high-powered jobs, she’s clearly endorsing one way of balancing those priorities. Worse: she’s making it seem like the opinions of a group of men are somehow more important than any career aspirations their wives might have.
Valerie Jarrett, the keynote speaker at the Women Rule Summit and a former senior advisor to President Barack Obama, said that she encouraged Conway to consider a role in the White House.
“I encouraged her to give it a try,” Jarrett said. “First of all, because the experience inside the White House, working with somebody who you respect and know as well as she does — the president-elect — is unique, and I’ve had the benefit of that, and I wouldn’t have traded the last years for anything.”
In the end, it matters less which decision Conway makes, and more that women feel the choice is truly up to them.
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