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A big woman in a land of men with little balls

2012 April 9

She’s the first woman to head IBM. She has a degree in computer science and electrical engineering, not exactly traditional women’s fields. She has the authority to approve millions of dollars in IBM sponsorship fees for events like the Masters golf tournament in Augusta, Georgia.

Virginia Rometty

Funny thing, though, this supremely accomplished FOF, Virginia Rometty,  is not allowed to become a member of the “august” Augusta National Golf Club because she’s a woman. Well, it’s not really funny. It’s ridiculous, asinine, even embarrassing, considering the role she plays at IBM and the role IBM plays at the Masters. Historically, the chief executives of its lead sponsors are invited to join THE CLUB. But not Virginia. That’s insult heaped upon insult.

Adulterers can be Augusta members, just as long as they’re men. But women leaders? Hell no!! There’s no place for them in this holy bastion of men with little balls. I have no idea if Virginia even golfs, but no matter. She deserved to be invited. The Club conveniently chose to disobey its own rules about inviting heads of sponsoring companies to become members.

I also don’t understand why Virginia dodged the media at the just-ended event and didn’t tell us how she feels about all this. Perhaps she didn’t want to upset the proverbial golf (oops! apple) cart because she was entertaining her company’s biggest clients there. Surely, she’s not a blushing violet to have achieved all she has since graduating Northwestern University a few decades ago.

The world is filled with contradictions and irony. This situation, I’d say, ranks right up there as one of the most ironic. Maybe Augusta National can create a new sponsorship category called: “We want your money. It’s you we don’t want.”

Note to the powers that be at Augusta: If the nation’s leading all-male universities thought it wise to open their doors to women in 1969, surely you can do the same in 2012. We’re talking about a golf course, for heaven’s sake. I can think of ground a lot more sacred.

 

 

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  • LP says:

    so funny!

  • Sharon says:

    Great post!

  • Laura W says:

    Well said!

  • Toby Wollin says:

    Virginia Rometty did not get where she is today at IBM by making noise, rocking the board, or yelling about gender discrimination. When we had a big IBM operation locally, I knew several women and I was told in no uncertain terms that IBM had literally defined gender discrimination out of existence at IBM by putting in the HR manual ‘there is no gender discrimination in IBM’. Once they’d put it there, no woman could say anything about unfairness because it did … not…exist. Virginia Rometty got where she is today by being attractive, keeping quiet and getting herself the right (male) mentors who quietly pushed her along under the radar. So, to expect her to raise a big noise (and embarrass IBM) because she didn’t get her little green jacket? Seriously? She got the whole enchilada at IBM – the green jacket thing is totally beneath her notice. She knows the Masters people embarrassed themselves with their behavior – next year, they will show up at her office and offer her a jacket in her size, made specially for her, and she will be gracious.

    • Liz Savoy says:

      I agree 100%. Grace and dignity get you much further than pitching a fit.

    • Susan S. says:

      Hmm… “Virginia Rometty got where she is today by being attractive… “.

      So what you’re saying is that she most likely wouldn’t have achieved her level of success at IBM if she were plain? Do men have to be attractive as a prerequisite to being successful? Yet, “there is no gender discrimination at IBM”.

      Baloney. There is still gender discrimination everywhere because let’s face it, that is exactly the kind of thinking that still exists in our society. Women have the onus of needing to be talented and attractive to get ahead. Men only need to be talented.

      • Joanne says:

        Not sure I necessarily agree, as attractive people, both men and women, have an easier time getting ahead. And, regardless of your gender, if you’re not competent, intelligent and energetic, good looks alone won’t carry you very far.

  • Neats says:

    The fact that a woman would allow the company she is head of to sponsor an event at a site that discriminates against her and more than 50% of the population says as much about Virginia Rometty as it does about the Masters and Augusta National.

    And none of it is good.

    Shame on them for their attitude and shame on her – even more – for supporting it.

    • erica says:

      I agree completely. She should have overruled any support of the tournament. That she did not, and kept quiet to boot, says all the wrong things. I have no regard for her or any women who think they stop being women when they rise to the top echelon and certainly for IBM as an institution.

    • v says:

      Agreed! If she truly has any power at IBM, she would have withdrawn their sponsorship. IBM isn’t a golf or sports company, and there are probably more women/girls than men/boys using their products. “Going along to get along” is not the hallmark of a strong and/or accomplished female. It’s the mark of a woman willing to allow and support inequities and injustice in order to further her own ambitions…

  • Mason says:

    I could write a book about discrimination and harrassment. I’m a woman engineer, and by God I’ve seen it all. When you object to getting porn in your in-box, when you ask to have nude calendars taken down off the walls, when you ask the managers to stop referring to you as a”guy,” you’re considered as not being a team player. They can and do fire you for that “cause.” There are many tournaments, like shooting, yachting, crickett or tennis, not just golf, held at all-male clubs. The way to stop this, is stop the sports associations from holding their tournaments at these places, and moving them to other clubs that do allow women to be members. But no, you don’t hear about the PGA changing their venue. The problem is the PGA, not the Augusta Golf Club. I fear this will never end. Ms. Rometty is taking the cool approach this year: next year we’ll see if IBM continues to sponsor the event at the AGC or some other venue. It’s time for it to move.

  • Dani says:

    Ms. Virginia played it right. Boys will be boys, bless their hearts, until Mamma closes the pocket book and takes her, dare we say it in mixed company…money… somewhere else. They could have put on their big boy underwear and set a precedent and inducted her BEFORE the money thing came to the forefront. But wait, that would require strategic planning, forethought and sensitivity. Silly me for thinking that way; I’m just another CEO playing the game and I say bully for Virginia. Go Girl!!!

  • geri says:

    I love everyone’s responses. I didn’t suggest, Toby, that she should make “a big noise,” but should have said something. Ignoring it is not the opposite of “big noise.” Also, the green jacket is meaningless. It’s not being invited to be a member is what counts.

    Geri

  • Kathrine Iacofano says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is. If men want to have their mens club, who cares? I think Ms Virgina is above all this. She probably wouldn’t want to join anyway, if she had a choice.

    • Vera J says:

      Kathrine, are you kidding? You don’t see what the big deal is? How many “women’s only” clubs have you been invited to join? I would guess none. And why? Because we are not lead around by our private parts. Can we all say Bobby Petrino? Get a grip!

      It is wrong and until women can stand up and say this, it will continue. This is not the 1800′s.

      My ex husband wanted to join a country club that had a men’s only golf course. Guess what happened. Well.. duh… ex husband. But that wasn’t the only reason. Just one of many.

      I truly don’t know what I would have done in her place. She has risen to a position that most women would envy. And does she want to put that in jeopardy? Probably not.

      And the green jacket. Yes, who cares. It is ugly. That is not really the point, is it?

      • Kathrine Iacofano says:

        You hit it on the head (no pun intended). When men no longer have their private parts, maybe things will be different. But guess what? THAT IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN. I was invited to join “Curves” which is a women only gym. Does that count? So why aren’t there any “women only” clubs? I’d probably join one if it was reputable.

        I didn’t mention anything about the green jacket. But that alone would make me not want to join.

  • Nannaof2 says:

    EWH! The title turned me off so much that I didn’t bother to read the article. Can we try to be a little more gracious? Yuck!

  • j fleming says:

    I would like to know if she even plays the
    game… what’s the point in inviting someone to join if they don’t enjoy playing the game??

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