This weekend is the Masters Tournament at Augusta National Golf Club. I actually enjoy watching golf from time to time so of course I was interested in the commentary surrounding one of professional golf’s most prestigious competitions (side note: I know golf is supposed to be boring but I can’t help but get excited at the prospect of a birdie or a golfer sinking a difficult putt). However, this time my interest was not sparked because of the sport. This time I paid attention to the competition because of the dialogue surrounding membership to Augusta National Golf Club and IBM CEO Virginia Rometty.
Augusta National Golf Club boasts the long-standing tradition of a men-only membership policy. This means that although women are allowed to play golf at the club, no woman has even been admitted for club membership. Enter the controversy. IBM sponsors the Masters Tournament and this year the CEO of IBM is Ms. Virginia Rometty—a woman. Partnership with the club has meant that the last four CEOs of IBM have been offered membership.
The question that everyone has been debating now is should IBM CEO Virginia Rometty get Augusta membership? The fact that this is a legitimate question in 2012 is utterly baffling. This situation is reminiscent of days spent in elementary school, with “no girls allowed” sentiments being loudly exclaimed by boys on the playground. Augusta’s all-male golf club policy is completely and utterly archaic. Period.
To answer the question, heck yes Ms. Rometty should be given membership to the club! This woman has enough tenacity to be the CEO of a major company. She is surely worthy of membership to the Augusta National Club and the iconic green jacket that goes with it. Membership to exclusive clubs like Augusta is largely rooted in one’s wealth and power, and Ms. Rometty has more wealth and power than a lot of men.
Ms. Rometty and other women have broken through the glass ceiling to become female executives in the largely male-dominated technology sector. Upholding sexist policies such as this sets their progress back tremendously. It is no surprise that a lot of business is done over a game of golf, or in the confines of prestigious clubs such as Augusta, where some of the most influential business leaders congregate. By not allowing Ms. Rometty and other women into such clubs, they are also left out of important decision-making conversations and limited in their networking abilities which effects their ability to advance their careers and their company’s standing.
It is clear that this debate goes so much deeper than admission to a golf club. It shows the inherent discrimination that women are still faced with today and must overcome. I am interested to see what decision is made, and how this decision reflects the progress of women’s rights in a time when many people claim that “equality” has already been achieved.