The row has long raged over Augusta National golf club’s male-only membership policy, but IBM’s longtime sponsorship of the Masters tournament has presented a novel quandary to the course which hosts it.
As a long running corporate sponsor of the Masters, IBM CEOs have in recent years been offered free membership of the course. Then IBM only went and appointed a woman CEO – the formidable Virginia Rometty. This effectively means that the current IBM CEO is "barred" from membership, bringing into sharp focus the archaic rules at Augusta National.
Rometty has refused to comment on the matter, and is reported to be attending the tournament despite the debacle. Not so the president of the United States Barack Obama. White House spokesman Jay Carney yesterday said the president believed "Augusta should admit women". Rometty is now coming under pressure to stand up and be counted on the matter, but so far she has stuck to her "no comment" policy.
Virginia Rometty was appointed president and CEO of IBM, as of January 2012, taking over from Samuel Palmisano, who became CEO in 2002 and remains IBM chairman – he is a member of Augusta National!