In light of the recent Masters Tournament in Augusta, Ga., I thought a post about golf clubhouses and women in business would be most fitting for the Red Sky blog!
In a world where I’ve always been told women are equals with men, you can imagine my surprise while I was reading an article on CNN about the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia and their men-only membership policy.
The title struck me as odd and out-dated, “Augusta National a powerful holdout among men-only clubs.” Men-only clubs? Other than an obvious joke about TaylorMade or Nike men’s clubs versus women’s, I didn’t even know there were golf clubhouses out there dedicated solely to men. I mean, come on, I play off the whites too!
What’s even more disturbing for women in business – traditionally, the Masters major title sponsors’ executives are offered the exclusive membership at Augusta; however, this year, IBM’s female CEO has yet to be offered membership. I’m amazed at how calm and collected she is through it all as she wears a constant smile when most of us (though not CEO’s of multi-billion dollar companies) would be gritting our teeth and demanding a green jacket.
I don’t bring this article and the resulting media coverage up just because I’m a female golfer. I also think it applies to women in business. We’ve all been told about the “glass ceiling” in many major companies and agencies, considered the barrier where women shall not pass. As a 22-year old recent college graduate, I’ve grown up in a world where young women go on to college and get great jobs afterward. I’ve never known the concept that women aren’t welcome at Augusta National because of the traditional approach that business deals are made on the golf course and women shouldn’t play a part in those decisions. The article suggests that men-only clubs are “A big symbol of the last bastion of male hegemony over economic issues, the place where big business deals are done among the biggest, most influential corporations in this country.” It is an oddity to me that power is still something we consider masculine. Granted, I started playing golf because my mom told me it was a great “business sport,” but I never felt as if I was out of place as a female at an upscale country club.
Unfortunately, we only learn about the gender disparities when stories like this one come up – and even then, the story is old news by the time we get around to noticing them. Even then, the discussion centers on aggressive feminists and not the fact that we all have mothers, daughters, sisters and female relatives. You don’t have to be a woman to care about sexism and the impact it has on our young society.
At Red Sky Public Relations, we have 12 employees, ten of which are females. This ratio of men to women is not uncommon for many public relations agencies, especially within the last few years. PR was traditionally a man’s job while he sat at the big boy’s table (with the dominant coalition, of course). However, as women progress further into the workplace, more and more businesses with a female majority have started to pop up. In my PR courses at Washington State University, there were typically far fewer men than women, especially in the senior-level classes. Walking into a predominately female PR agency after all of that seemed like a normal transition.
The point is that sexism is still very common in a country that comforts young women to almost blind them from the future when it comes to wage disparities and advancement discrimination. While I have never personally felt the gender strain (although I have fought hard to hang with the boys on the course) in my short time in business, but I can only imagine the issues as women continue to flourish in the corporate world. Looking back at the Gloria Steinem passages and discussions in a Gender in Policing class, I can only take from what I’ve heard has happened in the past. Although, I believe this CNN story really brings up an important and valid point for many young businesswomen – the fight is not over when it comes to the business world. There is still a power struggle and whether it is tied to tradition or prejudice, this and other situations like it need to be brought to fruition so that we can help combat it for future generations.
– Kalyn Neils