You would think that in 2014, a respected journalist such as Matt Lauer wouldn't perpetuate the days-old debate about whether or not a woman can be both an executive and a good mother. However, on The "Today" show Thursday morning, Lauer asked General Motors CEO Mary Barra if she could do both her jobs, CEO and mother, well.
Barra sat down with Lauer for an interview that was supposed to be about GM and the scrutiny the company is facing after recall scandals and the alleged cover up of details pertaining to safety issues. The conversation quickly moved to gender issues when Lauer mentioned that critics believe she got the job, not because of her qualifications, but because in a time of crisis, a woman and mom would soften the company's image.
Barra graciously responded to the criticism stating, "I believe I was selected for this job based on my qualifications."
The interview then took a strange turn and became a debate about if she could balance running both a company and a household when Lauer asked if she could do both jobs well because of the pressures of her position.
Barra explained that she has the full support of both her husband and children and that she believes she will succeed in both her professional and personal life.
In the wake of 13 deaths and 20 million recalled vehicles, it's beyond odd to make whether a woman can be a good mother and a good CEO the main concern.
After the interview, viewers, mostly female, took to Twitter to voice their anger with Lauer, asking if he would have asked the same question of a male CEO. Here are some of their reactions:
Update: Lauer has publicly responded to the backlash (which he called an "important conversation,") on his Facebook page: "She had just accepted the job as the first female CEO of a major American automotive company, and in the article she said that she felt horrible when she missed her son’s junior prom. If a man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing."
Does that change how you feel?