Kellyanne Conway: Men don't want their wives to have White House jobs

Kellyanne Conway, Donald Trump's campaign manager, unwittingly gave a window into her outdated thinking about women and work at a Politico event on Wednesday. At the event, Conway was asked why she didn't want to take a job in the Trump White House. Her response, according to Politico:

"I do politely mention to them the question isn't would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who's going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to," Conway said, describing conversations she's had with male colleagues. "Would you want the mother of your children to? You really see their entire visage change. It's like, oh, no, they wouldn't want their wife to take the job."

If Conway doesn't want to take a big White House job because it would take too much time away from her family, that's her decision entirely. That's a real, tough choice, and no parent, assuming they have the economic security to turn down the job, should have to defend it.

Stephanie Jarrett, a senior Obama advisor who was also at the event, suggested that Conway could work at the White House and also make it clear that family was important to her. In that way, Jarrett pointed out, Conway would be setting a positive example for other working women. And, Jarrett told Conway, Conway could always quit if the White House gig didn't work out.

But Conway implied the question wasn't exactly about a busy professional parent taking an all-in job. Her answer showed that she saw it more as a mother taking on a big job, and that such decisions were inherently different than when a father faced a similar situation.

Conway's comments also imply that all marriages follow a neat, one-size fits all pattern. In that setup, the man is allowed to be as ambitious as he wants, and the woman's first priority is to take care of the kids. It's kind of hard to square that with Conway's recent run as Trump's campaign manager.

It's also hard to square it with much-quoted data from a 2013 study by Pew Research, which found mothers are the breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households with children under the age of 18. Thirty-seven percent of these women were married, and their income was higher than that of their husbands. Had Conway directed her question to one of those dads--whose families' economic security is overwhelmingly tied to their wives' careers--they might have been downright excited at the prospect of a big career boost for their wives.

Let's leave aside, for now, the question of whose decision this really is. Conway doesn't want a White House job because she has four children. That is totally fair. But it goes off the rails when she asks men to compare her decision to a similar one that might be made by their wives.

This doesn't consider that those wives might have nothing in common with Conway, might not have remotely the same value system, and might not share any of her feelings about work and family responsibilities. Then Conway asked the men to compare their reaction to that of her husband--even though those men, again, might not have anything in common with her husband, and their family situation might not be remotely similar to Conway's.

It seems ridiculous to point out, after an incredibly divisive election, that people are different, have different priorities, and run their lives and their careers according to different value systems and different economic realities. But somehow, that's just the point that seems to have been missed.

RELATED: Donald Trump's Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway on the trail

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Kellyanne Conway on the campaign trail
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway is pictured during a meeting with Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway (L) is pictured during a meeting with Trump's Hispanic Advisory Council at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 20, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump stands near his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (L) before being introduced for the Commander in Chief Forum in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (C) attends a campaign rally in Fort Myers, Florida, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway and Paul Manafort of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's staff speak during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. Picture taken August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Campaign Manager Kellyanne Conway (L) and Paul Manafort, staff of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, speak during a round table discussion on security at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York, U.S., August 17, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, talks with Kellyanne Conway at the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, greets Kellyanne Conway at the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., talks with Kellyanne Conway at the Faith & Freedom Coalitions Road to Majority conference which featured speeches by conservative politicians at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, June 18, 2015. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Matt Bai. National Politics Correspondent, Yahoo! News, Kellyanne Conway, Republican Strategist and Pollster, and moderator Chuck Todd appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday May 8, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
Kellyanne Conway, president and chief executive officer of Polling Co. Inc./Woman Trend, smiles during an interview on 'With All Due Respect' in New York, U.S., on Tuesday, July 5, 2016. Asked how Trump reassures conservatives about his positions on issues such as abortion without losing ground with voters in the center, Republican pollster Conway, one of Trump's new senior strategists, said he would work to shift the spotlight to Clinton. Photographer: Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images
MEET THE PRESS -- Pictured: (l-r) Kellyanne Conway, Republican Strategist & Pollster, left, and Robert Costa, National Political Reporter, The Washington Post, right, appear on 'Meet the Press' in Washington, D.C., Sunday May 29, 2016. (Photo by: William B. Plowman/NBC/NBC NewsWire via Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Kellyanne Conway is a guest on 'Good Morning America,' 5/10/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images) KELLYANNE CONWAY, GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS
ASTON, PA - SEPTEMBER 22: Campaign manager Kellyanne Conway (R) stands backstage as Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the Sun Center Studios September 22, 2016 in Aston, Pennsylvania. A national poll released yesterday shows Trump trailing Democratic rival Hillary Clinton by 6 points in a four-way matchup. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
GOOD MORNING AMERICA - Kellyanne Conway discusses the Trump Campaign on 'Good Morning America,' 9/7/16, airing on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Ida Mae Astute/ABC via Getty Images) GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, KELLYANNE CONWAY
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