Here’s food for thought.
How often do male CEOs get asked about work-life balance or their parenting responsibilities?
How many male CEOs make national news for oversleeping and missing a meeting?
This week was a low-point for media coverage on female CEOs.
We kicked off the week with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer who admitted to missing an important meeting with marketing executives because she overslept.
The media exploded.
Many women came to her defense noting if Mayer was a man, her tardiness would be a non-issue.
Other critics noted that as a highly compensated executive of a multi-billion dollar company, she deserved to be held to a higher standard.
A random sampling of comments about Mayer’s “Sleepgate”:
“So those supporting her being 2 hours late…do you show up late to work or job interviews? Come on be responsible. Everyone has kids, or tough jobs etc…that is no excuse and yes all of us are often tired.”
“How many male CEO’s skip these kind of meetings, I’d like to see the WSJ do article on that. Judge her on quarterly results, oh but I forget, her male counterparts are not even judged on that.
This article is nonsense.”
“Wow, I can’t believe the people that make excuses for her. She makes millions of dollars, runs a public co. and has a known problem with respecting commitments to appointment times. Only an idiot would give her a pass.”
“I bet she’s pregnant again.”
Now, I happen to think Marissa Mayer (as a tech executive for godssake) needs to ratchet up her wake up call protocol and get herself up.
Still, this hardly rises to the level of national news.
(Side note: Did no one from her staff bother to check on her and find out where the heck she was? That’s another post.)
I’m giving this week’s Troglodyte Award to The Today Show’s Matt Lauer who interviewed GM CEO Mary Barra earlier this week.
During the interview he asked her if she could be a good mother and still run GM and was she hired because she presented a “softer” face for the embattled company.
See for yourself.
I had to stop myself from throwing my laptop out the window.
On the surface, the Mayer and Barra media issues appear unrelated.
Because female CEOs are still a rarity, they are subjected to all kinds of media scrutiny and lame questions their male counterparts don’t have to deal with.
Female CEOs are still asked about their physical appearance, work-life balance and their ability to be good mothers rather than their business practices.
Are these issues relevant to their ability to lead?
I think not.
They still have to answer not-so-subtle questions about whether they are truly qualified for the top spot.
There is a simple solution.
The only way media coverage of female CEOs will be more balanced is to normalize women in the C-suite.
We need more female CEOs.
The less we perceive women at the top as rare and exotic, the less tolerance we’ll have for interviews like Matt Lauer’s and lazy coverage like Mayer’s.
The more quickly we can focus on their leadership and the issues that really matter.
Ladies, who’s ready to step up?