During a “Today” interview with Mary Barra, the new CEO of General Motors, in which Barra was talking to Matt Lauer about a delay in a car recall the company issued and if there was any criminal intent behind waiting to issue the recall, Lauer asked Barra an interesting question about balancing her work and personal life.

Lauer says, “You said in an interview not long ago that your kids told you they’re going to hold you accountable for one job and that is being a mom. … Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?”

Barra responds, “You know, I think I can. … I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.”

There has been some outcry about Lauer asking a sexist question and whether or not he would have asked that of a male CEO. Lauer has since responded to the criticism on Facebook, writing:

“Thanks for all of the comments and feedback
around our interview with GM CEO Mary Barra this morning. I wanted to
share some thoughts around one of the questions that has started an
important conversation. As part of the interview, I referenced this
Forbes article (http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2014/05/28/exclusive-inside-mary-barras-urgent-mission-to-fix-gm/)
where Barra talked about the challenge of balancing work life and home
life. She said, ‘My kids told me the one job they are going to hold me
accountable for is mom.’

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.
It’s an issue almost any parent including myself can relate to. If a
man had publicly said something similar after accepting a high-level
job, I would have asked him exactly the same thing. A couple weeks ago,
we did a series on ‘Modern Dads’ and the challenges of fatherhood
today. Work-life balance was one of our focuses. It’s an important
topic, one that I’m familiar with personally, and I hope we can continue
the discussion.”

Now, we can only take Lauer’s word for it that he would have asked a father who had made comments like Barra did the same question. But there is a point to be made here that Lauer was asking the question in the context of something Barra had previously said, not simply apropos nothing.

What do you think, readers?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."