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Will Augusta change its all-male policy for IBM's first female CEO?

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There aren't many arenas these days in which women are not allowed. The Augusta National Golf Club, home of the prestigious Masters Tournament, is one of the few.

That could be about to change, however, according to Bloomberg. Since it was founded in 1933, the club has admitted only men as members. Among those allowed in, the chief executive of IBM, a sponsor of the Masters, is traditionally invited to join. But that custom now has the club in a new situation: IBM has a woman at the helm.

Ginni Rometty was named IBM's first female chief executive this past October. She officially began the job in January.

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If Augusta National sticks with tradition, she may also set a first for the club too.

Although Augusta National and IBM both declined to comment on Ms. Rometty's chances for membership, ESPN reports that Tournament chairman Billy Payne has previously stated there is no specific timetable for ending the club's all-male membership policy. He is expected to be asked about the likelihood of Ms. Rometty's entry at a news conference April 4.

Bloomberg notes the club has been pressured to admit female members in the past. Given the vast number of women who now play the sport (some 5.4 million female golfers in the U.S., versus 20.7 million male golfers), why not break tradition? the news agency asks.

Off the greens, in the corporate world too, women are increasingly breaking into the male-dominated sphere of executive leadership, with bosses like Ms. Rometty, Xerox's Ursula Burns, and PepsiCo's Indra Nooyi. Given how closely sports and corporate sponsors play together, how long can such male-only traditions realistically last?

Moreover, previously all-male clubs of all kinds have recognized the need to revisit antiquated rules. In Scotland, for example, the exclusive Kate Kennedy Club at St. Andrews University has reportedly voted to let women join the social society, founded in 1926.

In an age of gender equality, are there realms in which men and women can justify excluding each other?

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About the Author

Wency Leung is a general assignment reporter for the Life section. Before joining The Globe in early 2010, she has worked as a reporter in Vancouver, Prague, and Phnom Penh. More

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