As the Today show interview began, Matt Lauer asked Mary Barra, "I want to tread lightly here, but you've heard this. You've heard it in Congress, 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 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 for this company as it goes through this horrible episode. Does it make sense, or does it make you bristle?"
The offensive undertones of this statement/question turned several heads, but Barra responded without blinking an eye. "It's absolutely not true," she explained. "I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications."
Lauer then went on to question Barra about the challenges of juggling a career with the role of motherhood. "Given the pressures of this job at General Motors," he asked, "can you do both well?" Barra responded with a resounding yes, commending the talents of her team and showing gratitude for the support of her family.
Though Barra currently includes words like "I believe" and "I think" in her vocabulary, we believe that she's just settling in, and we'll be excited to see those words placed aside as her confidence continually grows. The truth is, she can juggle this new role and motherhood, doing both equally well. To even suggest otherwise is completely offensive. Barra began working for General Motors at age 18. She has worked her way up from administrative positions and mid-level management roles into executive positions such as Vice President of Global Manufacturing and Engineering and Vice President of Human Resources.
It is disappointing that the media has made such speculations about Barra, the first woman CEO of a major automaker. Clearly, Barra has worked hard to get where she is. Clearly, she is an educated woman with impeccable leadership skills. Yet one of the first obstacles she must face in this new role is proving herself to the world.
Thankfully, Barra doesn't seem to be worried about what's being said or affected by the media's unfair judgement of her. And this is why we can't wait to see what Barra's next move will be. We doubt it will take long before everyone realizes that her promotion was the best decision General Motors has made in years.
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