OPINION | Women in White House must do more for their gender

The revolving door of White House personnel is spinning like crazy, spitting out victim after victim, the latest being the mouthy Anthony Scaramucci after only 10 days as the new communications director.

Much is being made of the women in positions of authority in the West Wing and how they've had the staying power that has seemed to elude many of the men in Trump’s orbit. Why are the women staying, and do they have a notable impact on policy?


As a woman, I am always happy to hear about the success of other women in top jobs in any sector or industry, regardless of their political leanings. Women are particularly well-equipped to navigate stormy workplaces full of drama kings and insecure men who need constant ego-boosting. Most of us train for it since early on in our careers.


Many women — especially those who have made it to the upper echelons of their careers — have survived and thrived in toxic workplaces despite having male colleagues treat them as subordinates, even exposing them to misogynistic and downright sexually discriminatory treatment — a needed skillset in a White House led by a man known for his misogyny, his documented vile treatment of women and his dated views of them.

The women surviving at the White House are tough cookies. They have kept their heads down, haven’t tried to burnish their own brands or egos, maintained their loyalty and, as a result, have not had huge targets on their backs like some of their male colleagues. But when it comes to politics and public policy, I also like to see women who are making a positive difference in the lives of American women from all walks of life.

So while it is great that Ivanka TrumpIvana (Ivanka) Marie TrumpHard choices in training Americans for AI workplace of future Ex-Trump, progressive strategists battle over charges of anti-Semitism surrounding Eric Trump Ethics watchdog requests probe into Trump officials traveling to campaign events MORE, Deputy National Security Advisor Dina Powell, counselor Kellyanne Conway, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks and political advisor Omarosa Manigault all seem to be surviving the almost hourly chaos; to what end does it matter for the good of the American people, especially women and families? Not much, so far.

In fact, one could argue that for all the hype we have heard about how progressive Ivanka Trump is on women’s issues, her advocacy on behalf of women has been either completely absent, or, if done in private, completely irrelevant.

Since taking office, the Trump administration has done nothing to help women, children and families who are struggling. As a matter of fact, it has taken steps that will make it harder for women trying to make ends meet.

The Trump administration has abolished the White House Office of Women and Girls, established under the Obama administration to measure the impact of policies on American women and their families. Under Trump, the office has gone dark while they “evaluate” whether to keep it or not.

In April, Trump signed an executive order that cancelled an Obama-era order, the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces EO, that required companies with millions of dollars in federal contracts to ensure pay transparency and equality, as well as mechanisms for women to file sexual discrimination complaints.

Let’s not forget Trump’s zeal to repeal and replace ObamaCare, which included a motion to defund Planned Parenthood. Doing so would put millions of women and their families at risk of not having any primary care physician available to go to.

Additionally, the Trump administration has done nothing to promote an increase in pay for minimum-wage earners, two-thirds of which are women.

What about Ivanka’s push for a comprehensive child care policy? She made a big splash about it during the campaign and has had some events early on in the administration to highlight her efforts. But what has come of these? Nothing, so far. 

The First Daughter’s plan was blasted as a boon to wealthy couples who would be the primary beneficiaries of the tax loopholes in her proposal. Most working-class couples or single, working moms would not earn enough to claim the benefit.

Do these women in power at the White House support the right of women for equal pay for equal work? Do they want to see women and their children get ahead in life? If so, they are doing nothing to push policies that would give struggling women a leg up, even as the stock market booms and unemployment drops.

Is Betsy DeVos advocating to her boss to drop his efforts to cut after-school programs, which help 1.6 million children, largely from struggling families, in his budget? Forgive me if I highly doubt she is.

What about the draconian immigration policies that are tearing children from the arms of their mothers, and the recent regulations Trump is passing that make it harder for nursing home residents — 70 percent of whom are elderly women — to sue for mistreatment? The list of detrimental policies to women and families goes on and on.

So again, kudos to these women for knowing how to manage a difficult, tantrum-prone boss, as well as their ego-enlarged male colleagues. Many of these ladies are moms. Thus, they are well-equipped to deal with men who act like spoiled children.

But ultimately, are these women advancing the well-being of America’s women and their families and putting in place policies that will help the majority of Americans survive and thrive?

The answer so far is a resounding no.

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a Democratic strategist and a CNN/CNN Español political commentator. Follow her on Twitter @MariaTCardona.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.