Virginia Rometty has a wife.
It’s impossible to read Friday’s New York Times story about Mark Rometty, husband of newly-designated I.B.M. CEO Virginia (Ginni) Rometty, and not think of the classic feminist Judy Brady essay “I Want a Wife,” in which she details precisely why she wants a wife, and what that wife would be good for:
I want a wife who will take care of my physical needs. I want a wife who will keep my house clean. A wife who will pick up after my children, a wife who will pick up after me. I want a wife who will keep my clothes clean, ironed, mended, replaced when need be, and who will see to it that my personal things are kept in their proper place so that I can find what I need the minute I need it. I want a wife who cooks the meals, a wife who is a good cook. I want a wife who will plan the menus, do the necessary grocery shopping, prepare the meals, serve them pleasantly, and then do the cleaning up while I do my studying.
From the NYT story:
Acquaintances say the intensely private Mr. Rometty deserves tremendous credit for pursuing a career that gave him the time and flexibility to support his wife’s ascension to the pinnacle of global business — as, for that matter, do the vast majority of C.E.O. spouses of both genders. Still, the C.E.O. husband remains a rarity in American business.
The Romettys aren’t the only couple reluctant to discuss the husband’s role in his wife’s success. There’s still a social stigma for the stay-at-home or less successful husband that women don’t face. And management experts say that that has to change if women are going to be represented in the top jobs at a level commensurate with their numbers and talent.
Asked at a Barnard College conference what men could do to help advance women’s leadership, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, a professor at Harvard Business School and author of the landmark “Men and Women of the Corporation,” answered, “The laundry.”
My guess is that neither Mrs. nor Mr. Rometty are doing much laundry with their own bare hands. But his pursuit of “a career that gave him the time and flexibility to support his wife’s ascension to the pinnacle of global business” is still something notably rare at the top echelons of CEO-land. Sounds like he’s been a terrific wife.