UPDATED: GM’s new CEO is another small crack in the glass ceiling

December 10, 2013

Today, GM announced its new CEO will be Mary Barra, the company’s current head of global product development. This is big news: Barra is the first woman to head a global auto company. This move, as the below Reuters chart shows, is just one small step in the march toward management equality. Women are still far from reaching parity in upper reaches of big American corporations.

Here’s more about Barra from Reuters:

With 33 years of experience at GM, Barra has risen through a series of manufacturing, engineering and senior staff positions, and is currently in charge of reducing the number of platforms on which GM builds its vehicles. A source close to Akerson’s thinking who asked not to be identified said the CEO valued Barra highly for “bringing order to chaos” in the product development process.

Lydia DePillis points to a tidbit in a Bloomberg Businessweek profile of Barra from earlier this year, which suggests she may take steps toward changing the working culture at GM:

When she ended a recent meeting at 4 p.m. to pick up her daughter, others thanked her for it. “One of the guys said to me, ‘I’m so glad you said that because I’m meeting my wife.’ A lot of women’s issues are men’s issues as well.”

This is the sort of culture shift that Anne-Marie Slaughter argues has to happen if we want more women to reach upper management, and it suggests GM under Barra may end up being a leader on this front.

UPDATE: A reader points out that the chart above is misleading, due to the incredibly zoomed-in y-axis. This is a valid point, and I like his suggested tweak:

Here’s that closer up:

The point I would make about the original chart is not necessarily that the glass ceiling persists, but that women are making small gains — just way, way too slowly.


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This terrible and very misleading graph is fixed here

https://twitter.com/jk_keller/status/410 498080765919232/photo/1

Thanks to

http://daringfireball.net/linked/2013/12  /10/reuters-chartjunk

Posted by Psymac | Report as abusive