Will IBM's New CEO Ginnie Rometty Join Augusta's Good 'Ol Boys' Club?

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Since it opened in 1933, the Augusta National Golf Club has not allowed women members. In addition to the strict men-only policy, the conservative club has another tradition. They give their major sponsors, or at least the CEOs of the corporations that sponsor the Masters Tournament, Augusta memberships. 

Here's the rub. The new chief executive of IBM, one of the Masters' biggest sponsors, is Virginia "Ginnie" Rometty. Yup. A woman. Rometty has already shattered the glass ceiling of the corporate world but can she break through at Augusta? Will they break tradition and give her the iconic green jacket that connotes membership? 

Credit Image: © Li Tao/Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS.com

Speaking to CNN on Friday, women's rights activist Martha Burk, who famously protested outside Augusta's gates 10 years ago,  said the time had come for the club to break its tradition of male-only membership and welcome Rometty, as it has done with the CEOs of other tournament sponsors.

"The company has a huge responsibility here not to undermine its first female CEO, and if they accept anything less than a full membership ... they're going to undermine [her] and they'll be making a statement that they don't consider her equal to her predecessors," Burk said.

Never in Augusta's history has a woman been one of the roughly 300 members.  With the appointment of Rometty as CEO the debate over the club's all-male membership is revived.

And the focus comes just one week before the most anticipated Masters in years. Tiger Woods, who finally returned to winning last week at Bay Hill, is considered one of the favorites, along with U.S. Open champion Rory McIlroy.

Rometty, who got her start as an IBM sales engineer 30 years ago, has been named to Fortune magazine's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business" for the last seven years, and was at No. 7 a year ago.

So, what do you think? Is Augusta's policy discriminatory? Will the club deny IBM and Rometty the traditional green jacket? Or will IBM pressure Rometty to politely say she doesn't want to be a member? Will sex or money win out?

dare to dream
Also online at prettytough.com and womentalksports.com


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