Career and personal
Burk currently runs the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women's Organizations, which started the Women on Wall Street project to investigate sex discrimination at companies associated with Augusta National. She is a syndicated columnist, and serves as Money Editor for Ms. Magazine.
She authored Cult of Power: Sex Discrimination in Corporate America and What Can Be Done About It, published Scribner in 2005, and more recently Your Money and Your Life: The High Stakes for Women Voters in '08 and Beyond (2008).
Her husband is Ralph Estes, an academic whose research focuses on corporate accountability.
Controversy with Augusta National Golf Club
Burke is widely known for a disagreement beginning in 2002 with William "Hootie" Johnson, then chairman of Augusta National Golf Club, over admission of female members to Augusta National. Burk contended that hosting the Masters Tournament at a male-only club, constituted sexism because 15% of the club's membership were CEOs, many of them Fortune 500 CEOs. Johnson characterized Burk's approach as "offensive and coercive", and despite efforts to conflate the issue with sexism and civil rights, Johnson maintained the issue had to do with the rights of any private club.
|“||Our membership is single gender just as many other organizations and clubs all across America. These would include junior Leagues, sororities, fraternities, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and countless others. And we all have a moral and legal right to organize our clubs the way we wish.||”|
For her part, Burk — whose childhood nickname was also Hootie — was "called a man hater, anti-family, lesbian, all the usual things." For his part, Johnson was portrayed as a Senator Claghorn type — that is, a blustery defender of all things Southern.
Following the discord, two club members resigned, Thomas H. Wyman, a former CEO of CBS, and John Snow, when President George W. Bush nominated him to serve as Secretary of the Treasury. Pressure on corporate sponsors led the club to broadcast the 2003 and 2004 tournaments without commercials.
By 2011, no woman had been admitted to Augusta National. The controversy was discussed by the International Olympic Committee when re-examining whether golf meets Olympic criteria of a "sport practiced without discrimination with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play." In August 2012, the Augusta National board of directors extended membership to two women.
- "Sports of The Times; Hootie Is Handling the Heat on the Eve of the Masters". The New York Times, Dave Anderson, April 10, 2003. April 10, 2003. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Women of the Year 2003 Martha Burk". Ms Magazine, Mariah Burton Nelson, December 2003.
- "An interview with Augusta's Hootie Johnson". USAtoday, Doug Ferguson, AP, 11/11/2002. November 11, 2002. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Augusta defends male-only members policy". Golf Today, Year to Date News, 2002.
- "A Master's Challenge". PBS Online Newshour, February 20, 2003.
- "Hat in hand, Hootie's nemesis set for big day at Masters". San Francisco Chronicle, Scott Ostler, April 12, 2003. April 12, 2003.
- "Augusta leader's record defies image". USAtoday, Harry Blauvelt, 10/21/2002. October 21, 2002. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- "Augusta leader's record defies image". USAtoday, Harry Blauvelt, 10/21/2002. October 21, 2002. Retrieved May 12, 2010. "All agree Johnson, who has a record of access and inclusion, is one of the most unlikely people to have gotten caught up in the firestorm over Augusta membership. Yet the former University of South Carolina football player and prominent banker is being characterized nationally as a rube. "His whole life has been just the opposite of what he's being portrayed," says U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C. "He's always come down on the side of access and equality. He's not a prejudiced person in any way. He is not deserving of this controversy.""
- "Is Golf Unethical?". The New York Times, Randy Cohen, August 18, 2009. August 18, 2009. Retrieved May 12, 2010.
- Augusta defends male-only members policy
- Golf is Vile: A Jock Opera in the land of Sir and Ma'am, by Thomas Beller