So, here’s what we know about gender. Apparently, only women actually have a gender when it comes to job qualifications and balancing work and family. How do we know this? Well, men rarely get questions about “having it all,” or whether they can juggle running a major company and fatherhood. Or if being a man helped them get a job. Nope, it rarely happens.
But on the “Today” show, Matt Lauer asked these very questions of the embattled chief executive of General Motors because she’s a woman. And these are the kind of questions that women who run large companies, have all-consuming jobs, and run for office get.
All the time. As questions go, these aren’t unfair questions. But they are rarely asked of men. And that’s a problem.
The exchange, which comes as Mary Barra and General Motors are under fire for defective ignition switches that have been linked to the deaths of 13 people, is near the end of the video, around 3 minutes in:
Lauer: I want to tread lightly here … but you’ve heard it in Congress and you’ve heard it in the headlines: You got this job because you are hugely qualified, 30 years in this company a variety of different jobs but there are some people who are speculating that you also got this job as a woman and as a mom because people within General Motors knew this company was in for a very tough time and as a woman and a mom, you could present a softer face and softer image for this company as it goes through this horrible episode. Does it make sense or does it make you bristle?
Barra: Well, that is absolutely not true, you know, I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications.
And then the mom questions came next:
Lauer: You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids, you said in an interview not long ago that your kids said they’re going to hold you accountable for one job, and that is being a mom. Given the pressure at General Motors, can you do both well?
Barra: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path, we’re doing the right things, we’re taking accountability, and also I have a wonderful family and a supportive husband, and I’m pretty proud of my kids the way they’re supporting me in this.