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Never, never, respond to that question with any declaration of competence. It only legitimatizes the question, and makes the woman sound defensive.

The question is designed to remind all viewers that women are handicapped in the business world; that they lose some intangible "mommy" ability when they are successful.

Has no one ever given Ms. Barra a course in handling tough questions? Isn't there a class for women dealing with unspoken stereotypes?

That said, how should she have handled the question?

First, it's a teaching moment.

We need to turn that non-question around (akin to have you stopped beating your wife).

The question we need to answer is "how did you did you manage both family and career to get where you are?"

It's a chance for her to explain how she has done so well in her career. Explain the things that are needed: family support? child care? Husband? What about her early years: what has changed. How her kids adapted to her career as they got older.

Second, it's a promo moment.

She has a chance here to showcase her skills and the skills of her family (in which she probably had a big influence).

She should have played up her children's response: they made it clear that they have high standards for her and by implication she has met them in the past.

Women need to be aware that they are "on camera" at all times and need to reframe the question, not answer it.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Where are you coming from? (6+ / 0-)

    "She should have played up her children's response: they made it clear that they have high standards for her and by implication she has met them in the past.

    Women need to be aware that they are "on camera" at all times and need to reframe the question, not answer it."

    I can't tell by your profile if you are male or female. If you are a male, consider yourself separated at birth from Matt Lauer. If you are female, you've thrown a sister under the bus.

    It is easy  for any of us to sit behind a keyboard and tell someone else what they should be doing differently.

    No one, not you, not me, knows how someone else will or can respond to a question like Matt Lauer asked. I've been on television and said something I cringed at later. The pressure of being under scrutiny, with the world watching, is an unknown unless we are the ones there.

    I am very disappointed in the dairy. Very.

    “Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ― Mary Oliver

    by weezilgirl on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:08:53 AM PDT

  •  Just reverse the question. (8+ / 0-)

    Ask HIM the same question.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 09:12:24 AM PDT

  •  My answer would be (10+ / 0-)

    "Why do you ask?"

    Period.

    Let the questioner flounder for a while. It's his stupid topic; he should own it.

    By the way, I'm 78 and a female professional, so I'm old enough to have met up with more than my share of this attitude in my working life. Sucked then, sucked now.

  •  It's no one's business (0+ / 0-)

    However, if a man or woman wants to use his or her family as medals of personal character, then they can't complain if family questions are asked.

  •  Oh lord. Really? You're really going to put the (4+ / 0-)

    responsibility for answering a stupid question like that on the woman - along with everything else she's required to do?  Do you not think she has enough additional issues to deal with and doesn't need a supposed supporter criticizing her for not coming up with some imaginary perfect answer to a totally stupid and inappropriate question?

    Let's stick to criticizing the ones who deserves criticism here.  That would be Matt Lauer and his enablers.

  •  Questioning her competency was disgusting (4+ / 0-)
    But there are some people who are speculating that you got this job as a woman and as a mom because people within General Motors knew this company was in for a very tough time, and as a woman and a mom you could present a softer face and a softer image for the company as it goes through the episode
    He has no idea what she has gone through to rise to the top of GM. I worked there twice in engineering and management. I was usually the only woman in the room. Sexism abounds - cars are a guy thing, doncha know.

    Mary Barra is doing an excellent job. She has fired 15 people responsible. When was the last time you read about a man taking such swift and public action to hold people accountable?

    Imagine all the people, living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. John Lennon

    by GwenM on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 10:14:51 AM PDT

    •  Because Lauer is failing as a (male) anchor (4+ / 0-)

      of a formerly most popular top-rated morning TV show, once its female host (Couric) left for another network.  He threw the next female anchor (Curry) under the bus, blaming her for his show's woes, and now that there aren't women around to prop him up, he's collapsing, at least that's

      ...what some people who are speculating that he got that Today Show job as a man and as a divorced father because people within NBC knew the show was in for a very rough time, and as a man and a father he could present a tougher race and tougher image for the company as it goes through the episode.
      Matt Lauer = Epic Fail

      but of course he just got his contract renewed by the other boys at NBC.  And he sees no irony in any of it.

      "Out of Many, One Nation." This is the great promise of these United States of America -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Fri Jun 27, 2014 at 01:38:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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