I’ve been reading all about the hiring of Marissa Mayer, the new CEO of Yahoo, who immediately following the announcement of her new role also announced this on Twitter:
Mayer, 37 years-old, also quickly stated that after her birth in 3 months, she would work through her maternity leave and return to work after three weeks. And then the twitterverse went nuts:
Once again, the “having it all” and “mommy wars” debate’s flood gates opened back up and everyone has something to say. Is this fair to women in the work place who are seeking more flexibility, more security, more protection? Can a woman really have it all after having a child? Would the world care if she was a man? (Of course not!)
I’ve seen women’s raging debates on Facebook pages and it’s causing rifts. Some think it’s a step back, some think she’s doing what she has to. Mayer said that the Yahoo board showed “evolved thinking” by hiring her, and ain’t that the truth? There haven’t been many female CEO’s in Silicon Valley to date. Clearly this is a win for women.
I don’t think that Mayer knows what it’s really like to have a baby. The first few weeks are hard. The baby relies completely on the mother. Mayer wil be tired, bloody EXHAUSTED. She’ll have to get used to new sleeping patterns. Surely, going back to work won’t be as easy as she thinks it’s going to be. I remember going back to work full time when my daughter was a few months old. I dragged my pump with me to work and pumped in my office twice a day. I woke up at 5:30am to leave for the office after a night of broken sleep. I’ll never forget leaking milk through my shirt in a big meeting and looking down at vomit on my blouse another time (or more than once). I also remember the pain of going to work and hearing my daughter call my sitter “Mommy”. Surely, Mayer will face the same challenges.
But I also remember the feeling of loss the day after I left my job to stay home. While I went back to work a short time later three days a week (which every woman online during this debate seems to think is the answer for a working mom) within a year after my second’s child’s birth, I will be the first to tell you that working part-time is not the answer. There are just as many pro’s to working p/t as working f/t but that is a separate blog post.
If I had known then what I know now about the consequences of stepping out of the work force to care for my children, I would tell Mayer this: “Good choice.” Because we all have a choice. This is her choice. It may not be the one that you agree with but it’s hers. I applaud her for knowing what she wants. She has taken on a huge job and knows that she is expected to turn Yahoo around after a series of poor management. She won’t have a lot of time to slow down. But given the fact that she’s smart, a multi-tasker, she’ll be fine. Plus, she’ll have a ton of help – both at home and at work, which she’ll need. But it won’t be easy. She has a tough road in front of her, that is no question.
I don’t think that Mayer alone can change our lousy maternity leave policies, and I’m not sure why women are blaming her and accusing her of setting a bad example of what needs to change. I am not saying that we need change and more flexible policies in the work place. I’m just saying that Mayer deserves our congratulations. What an achievement for any woman to make it this far. Who can blame her for wanting to have it all? Don’t we all?
What are your thoughts? I’d love to start a conversation on this below. Please leave your comment.