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Another female CEO is good for business

In this Jan. 14, 2013, file photo, General Motors Senior Vice President Mary Barra is seen during presentation of the North American Car & Truck of the Year at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Barra was named GM CEO on Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, making her the first woman to lead a U.S. car company. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

We have a story that’s not only good news for working women, but also good news for investors.

General Motors has a new CEO, and she is the first woman to run an American car company. Mary Barra will replace Dan Akerson when he retires in January.

Barra is a GM lifer and Akerson said she has paid her dues. She grew up in the company, worked on the factory floor, managed plants and the largest and most complex segment of the business – local product development.

Is this just a former government-run car company merely trying to score gender points?

“Mary is one of the most gifted executives I’ve met in my career. She was picked for her talent, not for her gender, not for political correctness – anything of that order,” said Akerson. “She’s a very talented executive.”

But let’s not dismiss the gender factor quite so fast. That may be part of the reason she’s such a talented executive.

A study released in September showed companies that employ female managers are more successful than those dominated by men.

According to the research, shareholder returns were on average 53 percent higher and profit margins 42 percent better in companies where at least one in three board members were female.

And a 2011 study by the Harvard Business Review showed that women consistently outscore men in areas of competency required by managers.

And big business clearly gets it: Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent told Bloomberg Television, “As we look around the world of the most successful business units that have the highest achievement metrics in terms of how much they’ve over-achieved their goals, their objectives, their business results – they are the ones who have made the biggest strides in woman leadership.”

And a 2008 study at the London School of Economics revealed that companies with more women on the board maintain more effective oversight over the chief executive and have better board meeting attendance.

So what does the new President of GM has to say about her promotion? “It’s an honor for me to be able to lead this team and to continue the momentum to have the best cars, trucks and crossovers with the highest quality and continue to drive value for our shareholders and all of our stakeholders.”

Of course, our perspective here on The Morning News on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM has always been that women rule and dudes drool.

We think it’s a pretty classy slogan.

KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross contributed to this report.

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