FOR THE WEEK OF DEC. 16, 2013
GM’s new female leader shows 'women they are valued and they have a shot' at promotions
Look for coverage of a female newsmaker and tell why you would or wouldn’t want her job.
Now try to find another article that includes a woman’s photo or quote. What is the topic?
Lastly, see if you spot an article that mentions or quotes a man but not any woman. Does the lack of a female voice matter?
General Motors next month becomes the first U.S. automaker with a woman in the top job. Its board of directors last week chose Mary Barra, who joined the company 33 years ago, as its next chief executive officer. She started at age 18 as a Pontiac plant engineering intern to earn college tuition money. Beyond GM and its industry, the selection provides a symbolic lift for working women that’s comparable to President Obama’s election for African-Americans.
“This is cracking the steel ceiling for the many, many Mary Barras who are out there,” says Anne Doyle, a former Ford director of communications. Barra’s promotion from product development chief “tells women they are valued and they have a shot.” Auto executives and others say it’s important to have more women in decision-making jobs to serve a market where women make 52 percent of new car purchases.
Still, Detroit business columnist Carol Cain notes: “Don’t think it’s going to be easy for Barra, as she will be judged and subject to scrutiny as no other CEO of an auto company. . . . Barra will be repeatedly asked how she and her husband split family duties. And what her two teens think about their mom taking on the huge challenge.” The GM chief executive whose retirement opens the way for Barra says: “Mary was not picked because of her gender. Mary is one of the most gifted executives I’ve met in my career. She was picked for her talent.”
Mary Barra says: ”Automotive is kind of in my blood. . . . My dad was a die maker at General Motors for about 39 years. . . . I truly believe this is the best auto company on the planet.”
Past GM vice chairman says: “It’s obvious that a powerful and intelligent female with experience can do as well as a male. I’m the father of four daughters, so I kind of welcome this collapse of the glass ceiling.” – Bob Lutz
Female executive says: "These 'firsts' of women CEOs are no longer newsworthy. The focus should be on her qualifications.” -- Bonnie Baha, Los Angeles investment manager
Front Page Talking Points Archive