Virginia Rometty appeared at the U.S. Masters golf tournament in a pink jacket, not the green associated with membership in the male-only Augusta National typically bestowed on IBM CEOs, the AP reports.
Rometty, sitting in a lawn chair, had a prime location just a few rows behind the 18th green. She is known to be an avid scuba diver, not much of a golfer. But she knew enough about the game to applaud several good shots into the final hole.
Rometty has brought the issue of female members at Augusta National back to the fore since being named IBM's new chief executive earlier this year. IBM is one of the longtime sponsors of the tournament, and its last four CEOs, all males, were invited to be members. Augusta National's chairman, Billy Payne, has refused to provide a substantive answer to that question, saying the club's membership decisions are private.
IBM has also declined to comment, and security around the company's hospitality cabin at Augusta was tight all week.
But do you want to know why there’s sexism in tech? Because it comes from society at large, and even at the very top, we allow it to happen.
Traditionally, the Augusta National Golf Club has bestowed honorary green jackets representing membership to the club upon the CEOs of its three main television sponsors for the U.S. Masters – except for this year. Virginia Rometty is the current CEO of IBM, and so far has not been given membership – like every other CEO before her, solely because she is a woman.
I appreciate that as a private club it has a prerogative to decide, and am certain that I wouldn’t be able to influence a clearly outdated organization to change its views.
But I would have expected more from IBM — and of us as a tech community to declare this as unacceptable.
So the following thoughts are not directed at the board of Augusta National. These thoughts are directed at Ms. Rometty, chief executive of IBM. I ask simply in an open letter “Why have you not pulled your company’s sponsorship?” And more specifically “Why do you allow them to disrespect you in this way?”
For Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, it has been a somewhat strange dynamic. They are not in the minority among politicians in their home state, but they are at the national level, and as such, have been called on to speak up for women. Recently, the two grabbed the spotlight during the debate over contraception.
Nationwide, women’s groups point out the glaring gender disparity in public life, noting that there are only 6 female governors and 17 female senators. Across the country, women make up 23.6 percent of state legislatures, according to Off the Sidelines, a project started last year by Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York. But in Washington State, women’s serving in public office has been as consistent as the rain.
“Every once in a while a note or a letter will mention it,” Ms. Gregoire said. “But mostly, it’s taken for granted.”
Courtney Gregoire, her daughter, would relay differences between Washington State and Washington, D.C., where she worked as the director of the National Export Initiative at the Commerce Department. She found herself biting her tongue when men mentioned her age (she is 32), and she started wearing pantsuits to appear older. Once, after being the lone woman in a meeting of 25, she called her mother.
The governor replied, “Welcome to how it was for us.”
Imagine what it is like to be serving your country and less than a quarter of your constituents look like you. That is the reality for African-American women in politics.
Illinois Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago) was the youngest African-American woman to be appointed to the Illinois Senate and she said sexism was evident, but being intimidated by others has disappeared.
“There has always been some general disrespect and resistance to treating me as an equal. I overcame most of this, but it has been a process of working hard to gain respect.” Ligthford said. “In focusing on my mission to improve education, I have felt some negative feedback, but I don’t see it as negative anymore. I see it as my job and I have grown in that way.”
Women only make up 17 percent of all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, 16 percent of U.S. senators, 16 percent of all governors and 24 percent of state legislators according to a 2008 Pew Research study.
Even with this reality, in 2012 nearly three quarters of African-American women say right now is a good time to be a black woman in America, according to a 2012 nationwide study from the Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation.
As Augusta National Golf Club prepares to host the competition next week, it faces a quandary: The club hasn’t admitted a woman as a member since its founding eight decades ago, yet it has historically invited the chief executive officer of IBM, one of three Masters sponsors. Since the company named Rometty to the post this year, Augusta will have to break tradition either way.
IBM holds a rarefied position at the Augusta, Georgia, course. The company has a hospitality cabin near the 10th hole, beside co-sponsors Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) and AT&T Inc. (T) The companies’ male CEOs have been able to don the club’s signature green member blazers while hosting clients. Non-members, who don’t wear the jackets, must be accompanied by a member to visit the course or play a round.
“They have a dilemma on many levels,” said Marcia Chambers, senior research scholar in law and journalist in residence at Yale University Law School. “If there’s been a tradition of certain CEOs, then they should look at this new CEO in the same way. The only thing that makes her any different is her gender.”
On a sunny afternoon in late March, before an audience of 1,200 students at the Tec de Monterrey’s satellite campus just outside of Mexico City, Josefina Vazquez Mota, the first female presidential candidate in the country’s history, talked about her campaign. “Michelle Bachelet [the former president of Chile] gave me some great advice, she said ‘never put on a mustache to govern, govern as a woman.’”
Over the past 14 years, the number of women-owned businesses has grown at a rate that exceeds the national average—one and a half times the national average to be exact. The release of the latest business statistics in December 2010 by the U.S. Census Bureau allows for an updated analysis of trends. This new investigation reveals a slowdown in this growth of the number of women-owned businesses as well as a lag in employment and revenue growth—but not where you might think. New statistics on firm size, sales, revenue and employment trends can help inform future business planning, public policy development and entrepreneurial support activities. The State of Women-Owned Businesses Report also highlights some of the issues preventing women-owned businesses from reaching their full potential.