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Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz's firing: Was sexism a factor?
Bartz was ostensibly ousted because she failed to turn the struggling internet company around. Would things have been different if she were a man?
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: Commentators debate if her downfall was triggered by her performance or by an aggressiveness perceived as unladylike.
Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz: Commentators debate if her downfall was triggered by her performance or by an aggressiveness perceived as unladylike.
Kim Kulish/Corbis
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n light of Yahoo! Inc.'s stagnant stock and ongoing identity crisis, much of Silicon Valley cheered the news this week that CEO Carol Bartz has been coldly fired over the telephone. Still, some have suggested that Bartz's ouster might have less to do with her performance and more, or at least something, to do with her gender. Is Bartz a victim of sexism?

Quite possibly: "There's something that doesn't sit well about this whole Bartz thing," says Rebecca Greenfield at The Atlantic Wire. She was hired to milk more profits from Yahoo, and she successfully increased the company's net income by 52 percent. People didn't take issue with what she did so much as how she did it. Bartz's aggressiveness and rough language would have been praised in a male executive, but given that she's a woman, they were considered a liability, alienating colleagues, shareholders, and the press.
"The case for seeing sexism in the Carol Bartz saga" 

Hardly. She was fired over poor performance: "It's pretty hard to build a performance-based case for Yahoo keeping Bartz any longer than" it did, says Jeff Bercovici at Forbes. The company's stock is going nowhere, and Bartz failed to clarify a muddy corporate strategy. "Isn't the job of the CEO, male or female, to be the one who takes the fall when things go south?"
"Was sexism a factor in Carol Bartz's Yahoo firing?"

Either way, this proves that "lingering barriers" persist: Bartz's ouster, along with that of Bank of America exec Sallie Krawcheck this week, is a "powerful" reminder of "how little progress U.S. companies have made in promoting women to executive positions," says Scott Malone at Reuters. There are now just 17 women in top positions at the companies tracked by the S&P 500. Only 14.4 percent of the top execs at Fortune 500 companies are women. We can do better.
"Analysis: Exits show how few women make it to CEO in U.S."

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