In his speech at the Republican National Convention, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani condemned those who have questioned if Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin can juggle the demands of her family and those of vice president of the United States.

"How dare they do that?" Giuliani said. "When do they ever ask a man that question? When?"

Some local high-ranking businesswomen say it's unfair for Palin, the Republican nominee for vice president, to be held to such scrutiny when Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama isn't.

Also, at least one area businesswoman said she feels a woman's career could be affected if her daughter did something questionable that could cause some people to question the mother's parental guidance. On the first day of the Republican National Convention, Palin came forward with the news that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, is five months pregnant.

Four local businesswomen offered their thoughts on the questioning of Sarah Palin and on whether they have faced similar situations in their professional careers.

Here is what they had to say:

 

--- Have you ever encountered a double standard in your career concerning your ability to handle a family and your job?

Jennifer Geesey, president of Central Penn Benefits in York: Yes. Before I started my own company I did. At a previous job, I encountered a boss who would not allow me to advance.


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I was bored, and I was asking for more.

In his actions, my boss told me that I wasn't old enough to go out to clients and do prospecting. Also, because I had younger children, he felt that I might need to take off a lot and need special treatment to leave early if they got sick. I was totally stunned by some of the things my boss would say. He tried to laugh it off. But I know it was no joke because I was not advancing in my career. My boss was very old-fashioned.

That was when I started thinking about opening my own business. I feel that I can handle my family and company better because I own my own company. If I need to do anything for my children, I can put those down as regular appointments in my calendar.

Christina O'Brien, executive director of Downtown Inc in York: I have not. I just don't know if, generation-wise, it might not be a problem for me. But, I know women in the baby boomer generation who have run up against that. I have been fortunate that I have not run into any problems like that. I wouldn't say that the problem isn't still there, but I guess it depends on the industry you're in and the job you have.

Sharon A. Dorn, Clear Creek Consulting in Felton: No. I guess it makes a big difference that I don't have children. But, my family always comes first. I think that there still is a glass ceiling and that women need to work harder. As women, we are nurturers, and, in my business, I always want to exceed the expectations of my clients. With men, that's not always true. I think women need to work harder and smarter and we really need to devote time to networking to succeed in business.

Sally Dixon, president and chief executive officer of Memorial Hospital in Spring Garden Township: I have not.

 

--- Is it fair that Palin is being questioned about whether she could handle both the role of vice president and that of a parent?

Geesey: I don't think it's a fair question to ask a women. Why wouldn't you ask a man that same question?

Today, you have two working parents and they both usually share all the same duties and that includes taking care of the children. I have appointments sometimes in the evening, and I leave my children with my husband. Even my parents, when I leave the kids with my husband, will say that he's baby-sitting. He's just spending time with his kids.

O'Brien: I'm still trying to decide how I feel about that. I would hope that Obama would be asked the same questions about how he would handle his family and his job. I don't believe that Sarah Palin would have taken on the role as possible (vice president) if it was going to be harmful to her family.

I guess they are asking her so they can determine who they are going to put first and when. I think it's unfair not to ask that of any candidate. Obama has two young children, and nobody seems to be concerned that he can raise them and still be the leader of this country.

Dorn: It's only fair that they ask men the same question. I think, in today's environment, where both spouses are employed, typically all the responsibilities like that of the household and of children should be shared.

Dixon: I don't think it's fair. I think that everyone has a family and everyone has a job and we all need to balance them. That weighs into everyone's decision in taking a particular job. It's the responsibility for anybody to find a balance that works for them, whether you are female or male.

 

--- Do you think that if a child did something questionable, those actions would impact a woman's career more than a man's career?

Geesey: Overall, I definitely think that it would affect a woman more if it was a daughter that did something questionable. People will come down harder on the mother because they are both females and they view the mother as the one that should be guiding the daughter along. For sons who do something questionable, it might come down harder on the father. It depends on the situation.

O'Brien: I think that it can have an overall effect. People are definitely talking about the fact that Palin is a conservative and does have a 17-year-old child who is pregnant.

I think it would be a non-issue if you had a 17-year-old that was pregnant and . . . the daughter of a female CEO compared to if that woman was the vice president. It's just magnified because of the role that she has. Local CEOs and directors are not as heavily scrutinized as presidential candidates.

Palin has no control over her daughter's actions that second she is out of her sight, much like any other parent. I don't think that speaks to if Palin has the skill to be a vice president. I would not base my vote on if Palin has pregnant daughter or (the) fact that Obama has two small children that he might see less if he becomes president.

Dorn: I would say no. In Palin's case, I think it's totally irrelevant. Overall, I believe that a child's actions would not affect a women's career more than a man's career. I just don't think people would dwell on that.

Dixon: I'm not sure. I don't feel there should be a double standard. Everyone had responsibilities, you need to balance your career and family or any other personal obligations that you have.

sadkins@ydr.com;771-2047