Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

How Romney has empowered women

By Jane Edmonds, Special to CNN
October 24, 2012 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Jane Edmonds says her dad, school official discouraged her from pursuing law career
  • She ultimately worked for Gov. Mitt Romney in Massachusetts as cabinet member
  • Romney has record of hiring women in Massachusetts; he cares about women, she says
  • Edmonds: Romney has stood for opportunity and empowerment, big concerns of women

Editor's note: Jane Edmonds served as a member of Gov. Mitt Romney's cabinet and as head of the Department of Workforce Development in Massachusetts. She also was an appointee of Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and served as chair of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD), the civil rights law enforcement agency for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. She is a surrogate for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.

(CNN) -- "Baby, law isn't a good profession for girls," my father told me.

"Stay with music, dear, that is what you and your people do so well," my high school dean said.

I was 16, and asking them the most important question of my life: Will you tell me how to become a lawyer?

Jane Edmonds
Jane Edmonds

My dad was a product of the segregated South. Orphaned at the age of 12, he pulled himself up by his bootstraps. After leaving Georgia for Washington, where he lived with a relative, he attended an integrated school, Dunbar High. Eventually, he earned his way into Syracuse University, where he was one of the first black men to graduate. In spite of his achievements, he and our family faced discrimination. Nevertheless, he kept his sense of humor, and worked hard to be a good provider.

My father's message was loving and protective. He didn't want to see me hurt.

My dean's message was scornful and discriminatory. She took a sledgehammer to my dreams, and when I left her office that day, I was crushed and fighting tears. I couldn't understand her answer.

I wanted to go to a good college, attend a respected law school and advocate for people needing help and craving justice. I refused to abandon these high hopes.

Opinion: Does Romney 'get' women who work?

And I didn't. I followed my dreams and went to law school. More than 40 years later, I became one of the 10 women named to top policy-making posts in the early months of Gov. Mitt Romney's administration in Massachusetts. There, I headed up the Department of Workforce Development. During Gov. Romney's tenure, our state led the nation in terms of the ratio of women holding top spots in the administration, and to this day, that's something about which I am incredibly proud to have been a part of.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, order food at a Wendy's restuarant in Richmond Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, order food at a Wendy's restuarant in Richmond Heights, Ohio, on Tuesday.
From the campaign trail
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: From the campaign trail Photos: From the campaign trail
Coleman: 'Romney did pretty well'
Obama warns of 'stage 3 Romnesia'

And so, as I've heard criticism about Gov. Romney's admirable record of recruiting women to serve in his administration, I feel compelled to speak out about the Mitt Romney I know.

I remember meeting him for the first time. I was struck by his authenticity, and over the years that I worked with him, I saw the accuracy of my first impression. Gov. Romney's overriding commitment was not to self-promotion -- as is so often the case for politicians -- but for the people he served, and the people he served with. He believes in empowering women. I would know, because I was one of those women he recruited and respected.

Opinion: Romney's empty 'binders full of women'

Today, there are more than 5 million women around this country -- mothers, daughters, breadwinners -- who are unemployed. They are not only robbed of their dignity and their self-respect; they are also robbed of the results of decades of hard work. More women are in poverty -- 25.7 million -- than at any time in our nation's history.

And for too many young people, the doors of opportunity remain closed shut by these tough economic circumstances. Half of recent college graduates are either jobless or underemployed. The cost of college has continued to rise in the last four years and student loan debt stands at record levels.

When Mitt Romney was governor, he worked with a legislature that was 87% Democratic to get things done. And to me, that really meant something: I consider myself a liberal Democrat. For him, it wasn't about who you were, it was about the quality of your ideas. That's how he improved the economy and balanced the budget, but that's not all he accomplished. Gov. Romney also initiated the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship to cover the cost of college at public institutions of higher education in the state for deserving high school students based on academic merit.

During his time as governor, Massachusetts maintained its schools' ranking as first in the nation.

Opportunity. Empowerment. That's what Mitt Romney has stood for while in politics and in business, and that's what matters to women. In government, he created opportunities for young people to attend college. In business, he took a chance on people to allow their dreams to flourish into realities.

I've been able to rise in life because of people who see the world this way. Looking back, I'm grateful to those who believe that education is a civil right and that the dreams of all should be encouraged and cultivated. And that's precisely why I'm supporting Mitt Romney.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Jane Edmonds.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
Carlos Moreno says atheists, a sizable fraction of Americans, deserve representation in Congress.
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 1625 GMT (0025 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Democrats and unions have a long history of mutual support that's on the decline. But in a time of income inequality they need each other more than ever
August 31, 2014 -- Updated 0423 GMT (1223 HKT)
William McRaven
Peter Bergen says Admiral William McRaven leaves the military with a legacy of strategic thinking about special operations
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1611 GMT (0011 HKT)
Leon Aron says the U.S. and Europe can help get Russia out of Ukraine by helping Ukraine win its just war, sharing defense technologies and intelligence
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Timothy Stanley the report on widespread child abuse in a British town reveals an institutional betrayal by police, social services and politicians. Negligent officials must face justice
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Peter Bergen and David Sterman say a new video of an American suicide bomber shows how Turkey's militant networks are key to jihadists' movement into Syria and Iraq. Turkey must stem the flow
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 1554 GMT (2354 HKT)
Whitney Barkley says many for-profit colleges deceive students, charge exorbitant tuitions and make false promises
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1434 GMT (2234 HKT)
Mark O'Mara says the time has come to decide whether we really want police empowered to shoot those they believe are 'fleeing felons'
August 28, 2014 -- Updated 1432 GMT (2232 HKT)
Bill Frelick says a tool of rights workers is 'naming and shaming,' ensuring accountability for human rights crimes in conflicts. But what if wrongdoers know no shame?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
Jay Parini says, no, a little girl shouldn't fire an Uzi, but none of should have easy access to guns: The Second Amendment was not written to give us such a 'right,' no matter what the NRA says
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
Terra Ziporyn Snider says many adolescents suffer chronic sleep deprivation, which can indeed lead to safety problems. Would starting school an hour later be so wrong?
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1330 GMT (2130 HKT)
Peggy Drexler says after all the celebrity divorces, it's tempting to ask the question. But there are still considerable benefits to getting hitched
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
The death of Douglas McAuthur McCain, the first American killed fighting for ISIS, highlights the pull of Syria's war for Western jihadists, writes Peter Bergen.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2242 GMT (0642 HKT)
Former ambassador to Syria Robert Ford says the West should be helping moderates in the Syrian armed opposition end the al-Assad regime and form a government to focus on driving ISIS out
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says a great country does not deport thousands of vulnerable, unaccompanied minors who fled in fear for their lives
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1319 GMT (2119 HKT)
Robert McIntyre says Congress is the culprit for letting Burger King pay lower taxes after merging with Tim Hortons.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2335 GMT (0735 HKT)
Wesley Clark says the U.S. can offer support to its Islamic friends in the region most threatened by ISIS, but it can't fight their war
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 2053 GMT (0453 HKT)
America's painful struggle with racism has often brought great satisfaction to the country's rivals, critics, and foes. The killing of Michael Brown and its tumultuous aftermath has been a bonanza.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
Rick Martin says the death of Robin Williams brought back memories of his own battle facing down depression as a young man
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1558 GMT (2358 HKT)
David Perry asks: What's the best way for police officers to handle people with psychiatric disabilities?
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 1950 GMT (0350 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says it's not crazy to think Mitt Romney would be able to end up at the top of the GOP ticket in 2016
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2052 GMT (0452 HKT)
Roxanne Jones and her girlfriends would cheer from the sidelines for the boys playing Little League. But they really wanted to play. Now Mo'ne Davis shows the world that girls really can throw.
August 25, 2014 -- Updated 2104 GMT (0504 HKT)
Kimberly Norwood is a black mom who lives in an affluent neighborhood not far from Ferguson, but she has the same fears for her children as people in that troubled town do
August 22, 2014 -- Updated 2145 GMT (0545 HKT)
It apparently has worked for France, say Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, but carries uncomfortable risks. When it comes to kidnappings, nations face grim options.
ADVERTISEMENT