This year Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump’s campaign manager, became the first woman to run a successful Republican presidential campaign. Throughout the campaign she appealed to women, and encouraged young women to pursue their goals, all while her candidate berated women based on their physical appearances, and bragged about sexually assaulting them.
But despite her sentiments, and her historic achievement as a woman, Conway still supports sexist gender roles, evident in her latest career move. This week Conway announced that the reason she wouldn’t be taking a position directly within Trump’s cabinet, was because it was a “bad idea” in terms of her four children, who she wanted to spend time with and make meals for.
We’re not now, and would not ever, criticize a woman for choosing motherhood over a huge career opportunity. Conway is welcome to spend her days however she chooses, and work wherever she wants (though things would be better if she used her powers for good instead of evil). But Conway not only believes that the choice is different for women (which it is), she thinks it should be different, and that men shouldn’t also consider their families when contemplating a more demanding career.
When male colleagues inquired about Conway taking a job in the White House, she said “I did politely mention to them that the question isn’t, ‘would you take the job?’ . . . The real question is, ‘what would your wife do?’ And ‘would you want the mother of your children to do it?’” To which the male colleagues responded “Or course not, she’s not even allowed outside the house!”
Okay, not really. But she did admit that they completely reversed their ideas once they considered what would happen if their own spouses were in Conway’s position.
Ultimately, Conway’s treatment of her career in relation to her male colleagues is outdated and hypocritical. Just one day ago, on Wednesday, Conway encouraged women in attendance of Politico’s Women Rule Summit to “go for it,” and that women should “ask for what we think we deserve.” And when put in a position to ask for the highest possible rank in her political career, she asked for a demotion instead.
This is sending the wrong message to women. It’s encouraging the idea that women have to take responsibility for their families in ways their husbands do not.
Whether she wants the responsibility or not, Conway is a role model, as a successful businesswoman who is regularly in the public eye. And although she did not say outright that she doesn’t believe mothers have a place in the White House, even though fathers historically do, that’s what her actions are suggesting.
Photo via Wikimedia Commons
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