Pimco’s El-Erian: “Augusta’s rallying cry”

My piece this week on the exclusion of IBM CEO Ginny Rometty from the traditional invite to membership at Augusta golf course as a corporate sponsor for the Masters (because she has a uterus), brought a flurry of some of the most Neanderthal reader mail we have seen in some time. Ironic to me, since a male friend brought this issue to my attention in the first place.   It was refreshing to see some men take the time to articulate an insightful case against the status quo here.  Mohamed El-Erian wrote a thoughtful piece on when “tradition” fails as justification for antiquated policies. It always seems to have greatest impact when someone in a chosen group stands up for those who are excluded. (Surely Mohamed can’t be simply dismissed as a man-hater).  Here is El-Erian:

“Like millions of Americans, I learnt last week that the famous Augusta National Golf Club does not admit women members. I found the news astonishing, especially for a club that hosts the prestigious Masters Tournament. It was also hard to ignore in the face of questioning by my 8-year-old daughter…

My daughter is right. There is no good reason to exclude women from Augusta.

Talent is not an excuse as I suspect that there are women interested in joining who are better golfers than current members of the Club. Even worse is last week’s statement by an Augusta official that “it is up to current members.” How could he ignore a set of fundamental rights, responsibilities and obligations that form the basis of good governance and civilized interactions?

My daughter’s innocent questioning should be considered not just by the members of Augusta but also by the thousands of golfers who aspire to play on one of the very best courses in the United States. It also highlights the dilemma facing Augusta’s sponsors who may well field more questions about their financial support.

Most importantly, my daughter identified one of the reasons why, even in 2012, something as obvious as gender equality continues to face an uphill battle. “Tradition” is once again used to legitimize an outdated and harmful practice. And this unfortunate situation extends well beyond a famous golf club in Georgia; and the implications are much more consequential.

Tradition often serves as a cover for ignorance and biases, both overt and unconscious. And this mix inhibits women’s opportunities worldwide”…

Those interested in further food for thought can read the whole article here.

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6 Responses to Pimco’s El-Erian: “Augusta’s rallying cry”

  1. Tom Barnett says:

    You are correct. It is abysmal. Customers of these corporations should force them to withdraw their support of the Masters. Money talks more than morals.

  2. Mike Gawdun says:

    I am with you on this Danielle. I was surprised to learn in your earlier post that women were excluded. Seems a bit neanderthal to me since every male there has a mother who wiped their snotty noses (and more) when they were little boys. I had no idea that clubs like this still exist. Isn’t this supposed to be the 21st century or am I living in the wrong era?

  3. Floyd says:

    Bastards, those who inhibit gender equality.
    The fact that our society tolerates this sort of discrimination is appalling.
    Floyd (male)

  4. michael says:

    Requiem for a Neanderthal.
    The burn the bra, return to nature days of Gloria Steinem et al seem to have recently given way to the push up and pretend movement.
    Unkept Neanderthal looking males (bad boys) still getting the attention of the pasted pumped and primed painted ladies.
    Do you really want equality or are you really quite content in a Mad Men world.

  5. Paul Murphy says:

    The problem is that these people don’t comprehend that they are as ridiculous as they are because they can’t see it from their world perspective. For example, it’s an assumption that people like Trump and buddy O’Leary are smart because they have money (i.e. money ergo smart); however, from these two critters we can easily observe that that is a fallacy. I believe that many Canadians would have this ungrounded assumption as part of their thoughts and I suspect that next to no one would in fact believe that if you have money you are stupid. So people can be blind to the obvious. There was an article in the Globe the other day on going slow about letting women on corporate boards. It was written by 3 guys (Allen, someone and Klaus) and they had produced “research” which supported their conclusion that women on boards was lowering the standard. And that conclusion I bought me back to a book called “blink” by Malcolm Gladwell (2005). In it, he recounted the situation where auditioning people for a classical orchestra position from behind a screen so their sex, etc. doesn’t enter into the decision has caused the change of classical orchestras from male dominated to approximate gender balance. Only the ability to play the instrument and the music produced was supposed to be judged BUT all those unconscious biases (expectations, pictures, rationalizations) that raters had were favouring the continuance of a male picture of the orchestra. The actuality of the musical skill was being submerged in the support of the unconscious conceptual bias. So how can a screen be established so that power and not sex is the deciding factor at Augusta membership? Who owns Augusta and can it be bought to change the eyes doing the evaluation?

  6. Ted Besson says:

    The whole issue smells of feminism.

    The same women who decry private golf clubs for men, say nothing about the clubs that exist only for women: golf, massage, soccer leagues, baseball leagues, …etc.


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