The biz media fail when they cover a female CEO
Noami Wolf writes for The Globe and Mail of Toronto about how the business media do a bad job when it comes to covering a female chief executive officer such as the new one at General Motors.
Wolf writes, “Then there is the ‘Potemkin CEO’ approach, which implicitly assumes that powerful men would never really choose a woman to lead an important institution. According to this cliché, Ms. Barra’s promotion must be a public-relations ploy, with men retaining the real power behind the façade. So we get this headline from Fortune magazine: ‘Is GM’s Board Setting Up Mary Barra To Fail As New CEO?’ The article goes on to explain that being surrounded by male rivals may fatally weaken her, as if male CEOs are not also surrounded by would-be rivals.
“Perhaps that is because she really is just a lady first, not a manager. An interview in the Times business section manages to focus the entire discussion on how things have changed for women at GM, rather than on what Ms. Barra intends to change at GM, or even on how things have changed in the car industry – surely an important question. The interviewer even asks at the end whether her husband is a GM employee.
“With coverage like this, news becomes more than news; it becomes a real-world outcome that negatively affects a company’s bottom line. Why would a major corporation – especially one like GM, which suffered a serious crisis that led to a massive government bailout in 2008 – risk appointing leaders, no matter how talented, who are bound to generate devaluing news coverage such as this?
“I cannot fathom why serious journalists commit such egregious breaches of basic professional norms of fairness and impartiality. When they do, they are performing the role of guard dogs of an endangered patriarchy, defending and thus strengthening the glass ceiling.”
Read more here.