GM's Mary Barra promotion called a "sledgehammer" to glass ceiling: Will other companies follow suit?

General Motors' decision to name Mary Barra, a 33-year veteran of the company, the automaker's new chief executive officer on Tuesday has been called a "sledgehammer to the glass ceiling," but will it encourage other companies to follow suit?

CBS News contributor and analyst Mellody Hobson -- who dubbed the decision a "sledgehammer" move -- said Barra has become an emblem in the historically male-dominated industry. So maybe, she said, the old catch-phrase based on former GM president Charles Wilson's saying will be a harbinger for change in the country's upper echelons of power: "As General Motors goes, so goes the nation."

Hobson said, "Dan Ackerson, the outgoing CEO, had been hinting at this. He talked about the fact that the big three automakers were all run by non-car guys and that one day perhaps there would be a car gal.

"Everyone who talks about Mary Barra talks about the fact that she is smart, no-nonsense, get things done, has been helping to restore growth and profitability to GM," Hobson said. "And that she is the right person for the job."

"This is making a big statement," Hobson added. "So it's great that she's extraordinarily well-qualified, but also that she can be a symbol."

Of the Fortune 500 companies, there are just 22 women CEOs, and 10 percent of companies listed don't have a woman on the board, Hobson also noted.

"This is a huge deal," Hobson said. "There has never been a woman atop one of the big three auto manufacturers. ... We still have a long way to go. To go from less than 4 percent (of female CEOs at Fortune 500 companies) to 50 percent -- which is where we should be -- will be a long time, but this is a great start."

  • Amanda Cochran

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