Stop Talking About Marissa Mayer

Marissa MayerYou may have heard about Yahoo’s new CEO, Marissa Mayer, and how they hired her knowing she is pregnant… and that she’s planning to work through her maternity leave.  If you haven’t heard about it, I’m going to assume that your internet has been down until this very moment because everyone seems to be talking about it.  And I wish they would stop for two very specific reasons:

  1. People have been giving kudos to Yahoo for hiring a woman they knew was pregnant.  Why am I not high-fiving them?  Because it is the law, people!  Not that they have to hire her, but that they can’t use her pregnancy as a reason not to.  Yes, I realize there are jerks out there who will say “Oh, she wasn’t the right person… her pregnancy… I mean her resume…”  But Yahoo wanted her so they hired her.  I follow a lot of rules in a day and no one gives me kudos, so I’m not going to give into this “Yahoo is a hero” thing unless they are going to give into the “Michelle is a hero for not jaywalking” thing.
  2. I know that Marissa Mayer is planning to work through her maternity leave.  Yes, I saw it… about eleventy-bazillion times.  I’m a working mom and I took three months off after Sweet D was born, and I’m glad I did.  It was the best thing for me.  Does that mean Marissa Mayer should do the same thing?  I am so freaking tired of the media creating situations that pit parents against one another.  While there are aspects of my life that I wish everyone would adopt (namely my political views), I am not going to judge one mom for choosing to work through maternity leave just because that wasn’t ideal for me.  In exchange I ask that moms not judge me for going back to work after three months.

Marissa Mayer is a role model for moms for one reason: She’s doing what she wants to do and what’s best for her family.  She is working because she loves her work. She is having a baby because she wants a family.  She’s not a good or bad role model because of how long her maternity leave is or isn’t; and Yahoo isn’t a good or bad company because they chose to hire her.  I respect her for living her life as she wants to live it.  Is her decision helping or hurting women everywhere?  Maybe, but only by saying that there are a lot of ways to be a mom.

(Get ready… I’m going to go there…)

For those who are concerned about the example Marissa is setting for her child, perhaps consider what type of example you are setting as you show your kids that it is ok to judge other people.

Comments

  1. Kim Nascimento says:

    Your first point, that its the law and they can’t use her pregnancy as a reason not to hire her, is invalid.

    She did not simply apply for the job, and then get hired because the law said they have to. Yahoo recruited and poached her from Google; they CHOSE her because she is top talent, despite knowing that she will need time away from the helm in only three months time. They could have easily chosen someone else (man or woman), or waited to hire her until after her maternity leave, but they wanted her that badly. I think that’s very commendable for Yahoo’s board, especially given the amount of missteps they’ve taken over the last five years.

    Regarding her decision to work through maternity leave, I agree, we should not be comparing her to an average mom or judging her decision. She is a multi-millionaire with the resources to help care for her infant around the clock, especially at night so she gets her rest. She’s also a first-time mom, who probably has no real idea of what those first few weeks and months will be like, so it’s hard to say now how she’ll feel once the baby is born. And furthermore, we don’t know to what capacity she’ll be “working throughout it.” She could potentially split her responsibilities with the COO or CFO, and just handle the high-level stuff for a few hours at the office each day, or she could work all day from home. All she is saying is that she will not be taking time off completely. Let’s give her a break already.

  2. It isn’t invalid — our disagreement is about whether it matters. Making employment decisions based on pregnancy is illegal. My point is that I don’t think Yahoo deserves credit for NOT being jerks. As we both said, they hired because she was the best for the job. I just don’t think they deserve bonus points for that.

  3. Ingrid says:

    The main thing that worries me is the message it sends. Yes you can do it all, IF you are willing to man up and be a man about it and work through a period of time where your body really should be healing. Kind of sends the message that women milk pregnancy, just so they can have an extended vacation. Which is just about what priviliged white males feel about women and their ‘ailments’, be it pregnancy, migraines or breastfeeding.

    To me it sends the message: sure be all you can be, but don’t you DARE to even be a bit feminine about it, only a man will do.

  4. Amanda says:

    I completely agree with both of your points, until we stop talking about women in power differently than we speak about men in power we will never level the playing field. Yahoo! has hired 5 CEOs in as many years and the media never dove into the male CEOs personal life in this manner. If women don’t stop judging other women how do we expect men and the media not too. Don’t make a comment about another until you walk a mile in their shoes and we all should expect the same in return.

  5. Ingrid, your concerns are certainly valid. In this case, though, Marissa made a choice that works for her. She wasn’t pressured into it and she didn’t do it to make a statement. My feeling is that she should be looked at as one mom making a decision just like we all do.

  6. Great comment, Amanda!

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