Commencement speaker: We don’t need female CEOs, we need invested moms

Updated
Graduates throwing their mortar boards.
Graduates throwing their mortar boards.
Stock photo by Getty Images.

A high school commencement speaker at a small town in Indiana has a solution to the “problems plaguing our society”: More invested mothers and fewer female CEOs.

Peter Heck, a conservative motivational speaker and radio talk show host who has shared the stage with right-wing commentator Glenn Beck, raised eyebrows while speaking before graduates at the Indiana high school where he teaches history by telling the young women that their greatest role in life “will be that of wife and mother” and the young men to lead [their] homes in a pathway of righteousness.”

“Ladies, I challenge you to a life of rebellion,” Heck told graduates on Sunday at Eastern High School in Greentown, Ind.

“To solve the problems plaguing our society, we don’t need more women as CEOs. We need more women as invested mothers.”

Heck’s speech follows a chain of events that have sparked a conversation about women in the workplace. A recent Pew report showed that 40% of American households are led by a female breadwinnner. The study subsequently became the center of discussion for an all-male Fox panel, igniting a debate between Fox’s Megyn Kelly and conservative pundit Erick Erickson who attributed biology for male dominance. On Tuesday, Sen. Saxby Chambliss blamed sexual assaults in the military on hormones, and at a separate event, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said America’s education failures began when “the mom got in the workplace.”

The recent prominence of female CEO’s like Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, and the rising popularity of Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In” book has also contributed to the conversation surround women in the workplace. The top concerns for female CEOs are focused on the family as well, Heck told msnbc. “I doubt that Meg Whitman would look at her children and tell them that what she’s done at work is more significant and important to her than what she did raising and caring for them,” Heck said. “That’s my point. Home is most important for all of us.”

Heck emphasized that backlash to his message focused on his advice to women over his similar advice to the men in the crowd. To solve the problems plaguing our society, we don’t need more men as millionaire entrepreneurs,” he said at the high school graduation. “We need more men acting as fierce defenders of their wives and providers for their children.”

Heck was chosen by the graduating class of seniors to speak at commencement, and also noted that he “received a standing ovation at the end from students and the crowd.”

This has not been the first time Heck has offered commentary on gender roles. In July 2012 after the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting, Heck wrote a blog post to honor the heroic actions of Jon Blunk, Matt McQuinn and Alex Teves—the men who died saving their girlfriends that day. Heck called the men “models of what it really means to be a man.”

“In an age where we too often yield to the idiotic sniveling of modern feminism that suggests there is no place in our enlightened society for men to act as “protectors” of women – indeed, they suggest that it is insulting and demeaning for them to do so,” Heck wrote.

Commencement speaker: We don't need female CEOs, we need invested moms

Updated