Marissa Mayer: Can a young, good-looking blonde mother be a good CEO?

Less than 24 hours after the announcement that Marissa Mayer has been made CEO of Yahoo came even bigger, more scandalous news: Her uterus works, and it will be producing a child in October. Well, the stories began, and hackles were raised. A public company being led by a young person who is a woman was one thing, but a woman who actually looks really pretty (come on, you thought it), is blonde (let’s throw that stereotype out right now), and intends to do other female stuff like giving birth? Heads are spinning. Here are some comments I’ve seen:

Marissa Mayer: not only the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company, also baby maker. Oh, and she’s stunning.

“She should concentrate on one thing at a time.” Not exactly sure what that ‘one thing’ might be. And hello? women everywhere concentrate on more than one thing at a time. And what does that say about men who have children at home and hold executive positions?

“Well, we all know where her priorities lie.” (Really means: She’s a gung-ho executive who is selfish and is going to have a child but pay no attention to it because she’s going to be at work.)

“Isn’t she a bit old for that?” (She’s 37.)

“I’m a shareholder, and I am worried.” (Honey, you have stock in Yahoo!? You should have been worried ages ago.)

This is how I see it. Marissa Mayer is not trying to “have it all,” and she’s not some poster woman for a new age of feminists. She has 24 hours in a day, same as everyone else. Same as the guy on the welfare queue and same as the President of the United States. It’s how she spends those 24 hours that makes the difference. (I’m guessing she probably isn’t into Jersey Shore.)

It would appear that at 37 years of age, any person being appointed to the top job of a public company has been able to spend their time pretty well. People don’t lead large companies if they’re dumb, lacking focus or unable to manage their time well. People leading public companies are well paid (that’s a story that mass media will probably be trying to tell next – what a shockingly high salary she makes, which will still of course be less than most male CEOs) – and money in America opens doors to all kinds of flexibility. I fail to see why the fact her uterus works and motherhood is coming along takes away from any of this.

If I worked at Yahoo! or a shareholder I’d be pretty darned excited for this change. As a woman in tech, I’m pretty darned excited, too. No, I don’t expect Marissa Mayer to suddenly employ millions of mothers or carry some flag for every woman in the workforce. Instead, I expect Marissa Mayer to be herself. Just the presence of Marissa Mayer at the helm of the company, not afraid to tell the world she’s having a baby, and carrying on normally as a regular CEO sets the stage for how the rest of us need to see the situation. She’s a strong, accomplished woman who is going to do her darnedest to ensure Yahoo! comes back to its glory years. And that’s exactly what the company, and the tech industry at large, needs. It’s also what kids need to see – the normal is that mothers are successful in all areas of life, and pregnancy is not an illness from which you will never recover.

Congratulations Ms Mayer, on both your new additions!

Photo credit: Marissa Mayer, Google Plus

4 comments

  • Her uterus works? I don’t have stock in Yahoo! but I laughed at your commentary. I like this post!

  • We talked about her quite a bit at #docc this week. The consensus is that she is great at her job and building successful teams to get work done. She also has a hell of a lot more resources than others in similar work/pregnancy positions. Given her track record she will do a great job.

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