Why Is Matt Lauer Asking Mary Barra About Motherhood?

Matt Lauer asked GM CEO Mary Barra how she can manage to be a leader and a parent at the same time, something he’s never asked a man.

Why Is Matt Lauer Asking Mary Barra About Motherhood?
[Image: Flickr user Army Medicine]

Oh, Matt Lauer. How could you?


You are surrounded by strong, inspiring working moms. You’ve cohosted with media role models like Katie Couric and Meredith Viera. What possessed you to ask Mary Barra, the first female CEO of GM, if she could be a good leader and mom at the same time?

As far as I can tell, you have never asked a male CEO that question. You probably have never been asked that question either.

Here’s how this cringe-worthy line of questioning went down:

LAUER: You’re a mom, I mentioned, two kids. 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.

BARRA: Correct. (smiling.)

LAUER: Given the pressures of this job at General Motors, can you do both well?

BARRA: You know, I think I can. I have a great team, we’re on the right path…I have a wonderful family, a supportive husband and I’m pretty proud of the way my kids are supporting me in this.

Lauer also asked Barra about speculation that GM gave her the CEO job in December because the company was in need of a “softer” image and having a woman, a mother, at the helm was the answer. Watch Barra’s response:

Did you do your research, Mr. Lauer? Seventy percent of moms with children under the age of 18 are in the workforce. President Obama just expressed his strong opinion on the need for family-friendly benefits for all working parents. And lest we forget, Marisa Mayer accepted the Yahoo CEO role while pregnant.


Change is underfoot, but it is media attention like this that reminds us how far there still is to climb. Especially when there are only 24 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 (Mary Barra happens to be at the highest ranked company on that list at #7).

And I can’t help but wonder, how many of them have been asked this same exact question?

This article was originally published on Levo League and is reprinted with permission.

Kathleen Harris is the VP, Content Development at Levo