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Internet abuzz over 'binders full of women'

Published On: Oct 17 2012 08:23:19 AM CDT
Updated On: Oct 17 2012 09:30:01 AM CDT
Romney binders full of women

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Did Mitt Romney really have "whole binders full of women" he used when making hiring decisions?

It was his response to a question – on gender pay inequality - which turned heads and started fingers tapping on keyboards. Before the debate was over, there was a Twitter hashtag, a series of memes on Tumblr, and a Facebook page with more than 100,000 fans. The phrase was the third-fastest rising search on Google during the debate.

The Obama campaign was in on it as well: a paid post from President Barack Obama's official campaign account appeared atop searches for "binders full of women" on Twitter.

In the second question of the night, voter Katherine Fenton queried Obama: "In what new ways to you intend to rectify the inequalities in the workplace, specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn?"

The incumbent cited the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which was the first piece of legislation he signed into law.

Romney, who worked in business, then served as governor of Massachusetts, said he "learned a great deal" about the inequalities between men and women in the workplace when chief executive of his state.

"I had the chance to pull together a cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men," Romney said. 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.' "

Romney said he requested "a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet."

Then, the sound bite which drove the online chatter.

"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," Romney said.

The tweets and posts quickly stacked up.