Cherchez la Femme
Dana, Rebecca, Newsweek
Byline: Rebecca Dana
The old boys' club just isn't what it used to be.
Have all-male clubs lost their cachet? A decade ago, the testosterone fortress of the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia was a battlefront of the feminist movement. Now, as the club contemplates a historic first offer of membership to a woman--Virginia "Ginni" Rometty, chief executive officer of IBM, which is a sponsor of this week's Masters Tournament--the most remarkable part of the story is that this time there's a near-universal consensus.
"A lot is different now," says Ilene Lang, the president and chief executive officer of Catalyst, a global firm that studies women in business. "To most people looking at this, it just seems silly." Yet silly or no, Lang says it's about time Augusta got on the distaff side of history. "It is still discrimination," she says, "and it's ridiculous."
Rometty has stayed mum on whether she'll get--or even covets--the boxy green blazer that the club has awarded to her four predecessors at IBM. At a press event Wednesday, Augusta chairman Billy Payne, who called Tiger Woods a disappointment for his 2010 sex scandal, dodged questions about Rometty. Meanwhile, President Obama and Mitt Romney said they believe women should be admitted, and Callista Gingrich expressed interest in becoming a member.
The notion of women fighting to get into the old boys' club seems almost quaint now, when every socioeconomic indicator shows female fortunes on the rise, while men, it seems, devote more and more time to sexting naughty photos. Augusta is one of few remaining bastions of a particularly anachronistic kind of male privilege, where men of means enjoy golf, whisky, and whatever other private pleasures they take in the company of their own sex. …