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GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina talks gender in magazine profile

April 30, 2010 |  4:47 pm

GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina waded back into issues of gender in a new piece in WSJ. Magazine telling the publication that “women are still held to a different standard and scrutinized more than men are.”

“It happened to Hillary. It happened to Sarah. It certainly happened to me as CEO [of Hewlett-Packard],” Fiorina is quoted as saying in an apparent reference to former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and former Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.  "....You know, you’re either a bimbo or you’re the other b-word."

Fiorina’s memoir “Tough Choices” is filled with anecdotes about overbearing male colleagues who underestimated her abilities as she rose through the ranks of AT&T and Lucent Technologies. After she took the helm at Hewlett-Packard, she wrote that she was impatient with questions about her gender and her controversial remark that “the glass ceiling doesn’t exist.” Ultimately, she said she set ground rules to steer interviews away from those topics and keep the attention on her company.

Her struggles as a female business executive have not been a central focus in her campaign against Orange County Assemblyman Chuck DeVore and former Rep. Tom Campbell. Instead she has tried to portray herself as tough-minded corporate leader eager to tackle job creation issues in Washington.

But locked in a tight three-way race, it appears that Fiorina sees the advantage of showing her femininity. The WSJ. Magazine spread features photographs of Fiorina cooking with her husband, Frank, in their kitchen, tidbits about her marriage and her Jane Fonda workout routine on the road.

And Arizona Sen. John McCain, who counted Fiorina and Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman among his advisors during his 2008 campaign, weighs in with his own predictions about the appeal of women leaders, telling the magazine “the combination of Carly and Meg can go a long way toward attracting Republican and Independent voters.” McCain lost California by a 24-point margin in his own bid for the White House in 2008.

-- Maeve Reston in Los Angeles

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