A fleet of GM vehicles in Mary Kay pink. Come on, is that all you've got? Why don't we just stop the lame jokes before they start, and let's nip any sort of female-CEO navel-gazing and let Mary Barra, the new CEO of GM, do her job.
Female CEOs catch it bad. Like Marissa Mayer, we're probably going to be watching her every move. Someone (Rochelle Riley, likely) is going to write about what she wears in the boardroom. Someone's going to find out how she interacts with top executives, and somehow she'll be painted as cold (if she does her job) or cold (if she doesn't do her job) and what that means for women executives everywhere.
All the drama could be tenfold because Barra is literally entering the boys' club. For all we read about female racers, female car buyers, female automotive journalists, female engineers, female designers, female plant managers and any other woman involved in the industry,this is still monumental news. Barra is instantly the most visible woman in the car world, and rightfully so.
Is she an enthusiast?
Yes. She went to Kettering University — a feeder school that directs its graduates on a path directly to GM. Her father worked at GM as a die-maker for 39 years. She has spent her career with GM. She's obviously passionate about the company and what it represents.
But is she an enthusiast?
She once said the first car she fell in love with was a Camaro. She wanted to buy a Firebird, but college got in the way and she ended up with a Chevette instead.
A Chevette owner is not an true enthusiast.
Yeah, you probably want a Ferrari but you drive a Civic. Is she the Lutz-ian car guy that Mark Reuss is? Probably not, but she knows more about how to make a car than almost anyone reading this.
What did she do before becoming CEO?
Her highest-profile gig was eliminating bureaucracy at GM as head of global human resources following the 2009 bankruptcy. She saved the company money so they can keep building the cars you want. (She also relaxed GM's dress code policy, which she told Fortune was 10 pages long). Before that, she was a plant manger and senior engineer.
She's wearing black nail polish in the topshot on the news of her announcement. What does that mean?
Did she want to be CEO of General Motors?
I don't know, but she made it clear she had her eyes on something other than dress codes. As she told Fortune in the aforementioned link, she wanted "no more crappy cars" from GM.
Can she be CEO of General Motors?
Someone had to because Dan Akerson is retiring, and wasn't long for the job anyway.
Does she he have CEO experience?
No one ever does before they're a CEO, do they?
So was she picked because she's a woman and there was grumbling about not enough women in the industry?
GM has a relatively good track record with women near the top, but that's really not the issue. You don't pick someone to lead a global car company solely on the basis of a quota to fill. You pick someone who's qualified to lead and take the company in the next direction. A career employee like Barra, who has managed plants, key engineering teams and has had hands in GM's top launches over the last few years has more than proven herself.
What seems like a revolutionary choice at first glance is actually the safest choice GM could make.
What will she do for women car buyers?
I think we've cleared that hurdle, haven't we? That's not an issue for GM or anyone, since, you know, women are allowed to make their own purchasing decisions and have been for quite some time now.
If Barra does have some influence, one would hope that she'd make a judgment call about marketing to women, such as bullshit ads like this.
What do other executives say about her?
Straight from Akerson's mouth this morning: "I don't know, I look around and I look at the number of women we have on our exec committee...I would assert that's an old perception of General Motors. I think that perception is quite dated. Mary was not picked because of her gender. I've said this publicly before: Mary is one of the most gifted executives I've met in my career."
Is she on Twitter?
Yes, but she hasn't been active for quite awhile.
So how am I supposed to ask her about bringing the Chevelle concept to life?
You could probably A. Crash the GM holiday party in Detroit tomorrow or B. Come to the auto show next month, where she'll no doubt make her grand debut.
If she's one of the guys now, can I pee in front of her?
But she's one of the guys now!