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Candy

I Want Candy!

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I just finished watching all three presidential debates and witnessed, firsthand, a unique version of what I could think of no other name for but a “moderator Oreo” – two vanilla outside shells (Jim Lehrer, Bob Schieffer) with a rich, colorful middle (Candy Crowley). Given that it’s been 20 years since we’ve had a woman in that chair, it’s probably safe to assume that there were no “binders of women” rushed to debate organizers. That must have been why it took the will and wherewithal of three teenage girls from New Jersey to remind them that since the candidates are trying so hard to woo the “women’s vote,” it actually might be helpful to, well, see a woman. They petitioned for a woman moderator, and clearly they succeeded.

If ever there was someone to wait 20 years for, Candy seemed like it – vibrant, enticing and engaging. She said in an interview that she decided (wisely) to stand during the debate to give her, excuse the expression, equal footing with the candidates. Candy’s background is intriguing: She was a stay-at-home mom for six years and has two grown sons; one is a neurosurgeon the other is a rock musician. Although having Candy moderate the debate was an important milestone for women, it also served as a reminder of how far we have yet to go.

Romney’s memorable “binders full of women” comment occurred when trying to explain his effort to have more women join his cabinet and, toward that end, he went to women’s groups who brought him binders full of women. Politics aside, the whole conversation serves as a superb and simple reminder that women are underrepresented in senior positions in business and politics. Though as I often remind people about GWEN, finding the right women to assume senior roles in business and/or politics shouldn’t be about finding a name in binder to make your numbers look better, it’s about cultivating and recognizing talent in women who will immediately be considered on their merit. That, and as research continuously proves, it is good for business.

The discussion also touched on traditional gender roles when Romney said that he “recognized that if you’re going to have women in the workforce that sometimes you need to be more flexible.”  His example of flexibility, however, was allowing his chief of staff to “get home at 5″ to make dinner for her family and be with her children. Maybe that’s precisely what she’s doing or maybe it’s to train for a marathon or, maybe, it’s even to moderate a presidential debate.

A television critic for the LA Times, Mary McNamara, said it best the morning after Candy’s – er, I mean the Presidential – debate. “Moderator Candy Crowley, like Supreme Court justices should be appointed for life.” Now that’s what I would call one very special binder…

Gail Becker is chair of Canada, Latin America and U.S. Western Region

​Image by huffstutterrobertl

  • KCROURKE

    I believe a moderator should be impartial and clearly Candy Crowley is pro-Democrat.
    If she focussed more on creating a fair platform for insightful debating than her personal opinion would not have manifested so clearly. I would hope that Candy Crowley evaluates her performance and really tries to understand that the audience is served best when you capture the questions fairly and ensures all answers are debated solely by the panel regardless of the personal judgement of the moderator.

  • KCROURKE

    I find it difficult to believe that no comments have been left. I have left two comments related to this topic and although they differed from the author’s remarks – they are valid. Why are the comments not being posted? I work for a large corporation that uses your PR firm does only similar minded comments get respected and posted?

  • Gail Becker

    KCROURKE: Thank you so much for the insightful comments. While I respectfully disagree with the premise, you are certainly right that I should have better addressed that her comments were controversial with more than just my reference of “politics aside.” As such, I appreciate you flagging it for me and for others. I suppose, in fairness, I was more focused on the fact that, after 20 years, there was finally a woman in that seat (or, at times, standing) than on her perceived performance. The other presidential moderators were analyzed, so only fair that Candy is too. Let’s hear it for equal opportunity criticism and the fact that finally there’s a woman to share in the chorus. Now, if that’s not something to celebrate on election day, I just don’t know what is…

    • KCROURKE

      Gail as my wife is a strong woman, I fully support the need for gender equality and inclusion in all professions. All elections bring celebration as it is the time to voice our opinions and have it count. Thanks for agreeing to disagree and we can only hope that the world adopts a gender neutral position and we all accept our personal flaws. As we are raising two children the younger a girl and the oldest a young man – I get reminded quite often by them through our discussions to focus on creating a better world by getting actively involved.

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