To hear Ivanka Trump tell it at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland on Thursday night, her father, Donald Trump, is a model feminist when it comes to women in the workplace.
"In my father's company, there are more female than male executives," Trump said while introducing her father for his acceptance speech. "Women are paid equally for the work that we do, and when a woman becomes a mother she is supported, not shut out."
Ivanka Trump then added that as president, her father "will change the labor laws that were put in place at a time when women made up a significant portion of the workforce" and "focus on making quality child care affordable and accessible for all."
Perhaps it seems a bit surprising to hear the RNC crowd enthusiastically cheering for employment rights for new moms — although it shouldn’t be, given that the American public broadly supports paid family and medical leave policies.
But it was really surprising to hear that Donald Trump will fight for these kinds of policies. Trump has barely said a word about women’s economic issues on the campaign trail, and when he has, it’s been vague or contradictory.
When Trump was asked about child care late last year by a member of the women’s policy organization Make It Work, he mocked the questioner: "It’s a big subject, darling," he said. "She wants to know my thoughts on child care. Come on, we’ll talk for about 10 hours."
A month earlier, Trump said he thought child care could be provided on site "very easily" by businesses. That’s not exactly realistic, reported Bryce Covert for ThinkProgress:
If it’s so easy and low-cost, though, few American employers have caught on. Only 7 percent provide care at or near the workplace — a share that has actually declined since 2008. Thanks to safety and health regulations, it costs far more than buying some toys and hiring a couple of workers to set up a daycare.
Rather than on-site care, employers are far more likely to offer their employees plans that allow them to use pre-tax earnings to pay for it on their own. Meanwhile, the government offers subsidies to low-income families, but spending on them has reached decade lows and there are enormous waiting lists in many states.
Trump has said that he supports "equal pay for equal work," but he also once told a female supporter in New Hampshire who was worried about equal pay, "You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job."
As for Trump offering personal support to women in the workplace, the Boston Globe reports that Trump’s campaign has paid male staffers a third more than female staffers overall, whereas Hillary Clinton paid male and female staffers equally.
Many of Trump’s former female employees have indeed said that they felt supported by him in their careers. But Trump is also well-known for his boorish treatment of women, including women who worked for him. His books reveal extremely regressive attitudes about women in the workplace, especially when it came to his own wives. He once called a lawyer "disgusting" for needing to take a break to pump breast milk during a deposition.
Maybe Trump will start making workplace fairness issues for women a real priority on the campaign trail. Maybe he’ll even come up with a proposal that makes a lick of policy sense. But neither of those things seems likely.