After breaking with its longstanding no-girls-allowed policy in 2012, Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters Golf Tournament, is admitting another woman this year. IBM Chairman and CEO Virginia Rometty will become the third woman to join the exclusive club, Golfweek reports.
IBM is one of the main sponsors of the Masters Tournament, which is held at the private club every spring. Unlike other sponsors, Rometty was not invited to join the club when she was named CEO in January 2012, prompting a wave of criticism from women's advocacy groups. Augusta National had long been criticized for excluding female members, and the admission of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former banking magnate Darla Moore were considered groundbreaking. Prior to those two women’s admittance, the club had never had a female member in its 80-year history.
Rometty had been identified as a candidate to break the club's gender barrier in 2012, prior to Rice and Moore's inclusion, because of her role at IBM. The four male IBM CEOs before her -- Sam Palmisano, Louis Gerstner, John Akers and John Opel -- were reportedly all members. However, despite ongoing public pressure, the club did not immediately extend Rometty an invitation. During the 2012 Masters, she was seen entertaining clients at the club, but did not answer questions from the media about membership.
Golf Digest broke the story of Rometty’s admission, as well as that of Yahoo founder Jerry Yang, as two of the club’s newest members.
IBM spokeswoman Laurie Friedman did not comment on the report, telling CNNMoney, "IBM does not comment on [Rometty's] personal memberships.” Augusta National was also mum on confirmation of the announcement. With the exception of its announcement of Rice and Moore's breaking the gender barrier in 2012, the club has not commented on club memberships.
Rometty is the first female CEO in the American computer giant’s 100-plus-year history.