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Can Marissa Mayer Have It All?

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Writes Martinson,

Mayer told Yahoo directors shortly after being contacted by headhunters for the top job that she was pregnant. They “showed their evolved thinking” in not once asking her about it.

In the UK and much of Europe, “evolution” on the matter in general means a push towards shared parental leave and more time off. So, although her appointment is fantastic news for many reasons (which I’ll come to later) it conveniently shows the gulf between the US and much of Europe when it comes to the rights of working parents. Even our own, in some ways neanderthal government, has posited opening up the right to a year’s parental leave to both men and women equally. Yet in the US, where women have the right only to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave, progress is often perceived as a woman giving birth while signing off on an acquisition and sacking a few hundred staff members.

Martinson points out that, indeed, the whole issue of paid maternity, and paternity leave, is in many ways moot in Mayer’s case as she is “is already fabulously wealthy and able to pay for her own army of childcarers.”

But Martinson’s comments hint at why, in the US, paid parental leave is only grudgingly allotted and bears the reputation of a luxury, a privilege,  a sign of weakness, something women should be oh-so-grateful to their employers for “granting.” Is it progress” for women to swing into supermom mode and leap into work clothes after spending 21 1/2 hours in labor and learning to get a newborn to latch on?

As many are saying, Mayer has her work cut out for her as Yahoo’s #1. The company has struggled mightily for years and seen a revolving door of CEOs; its chief executive cannot take time off. As a woman and a working mother, I wonder: What if American corporate culture actually took the needs of children, families, mothers, women who’ve recently given birth into consideration and revolved around building business in a way to foster executives’ (and, of course, workers’) lives, rather than being driven by profit margins? Having worked for years in male-dominated Silicon Valley, is Mayer unable to imagine ordering her life around anything but this culture’s demands?

I know those questions probably sound very laughable, are not what business is about and are beyond both the possible and the imaginable.

But then, in the not so distant past, a pregnant female engineer becoming CEO of a Fortune 500 Company probably sounded just as ridiculous and impossible, too.

Related Care2 Coverage

Marissa Mayer Becomes First Ever Pregnant CEO Of Fortune 500 Company

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Can Women Have It All?


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8:48AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

Is she the only woman who were ever able to work and raise children. I know a few who have gone back to work shortly after having their baby, but not like this woman because she wants to. But because they had to. Wake up woman all over the world has been doing what she is doing now without complaining or boasting about it.

11:03PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

Ask Marissa Mayer in 20 years whether it was all worth it! In attempting to have it all, was it worth not being with her baby more?

I applaud anyone who wants to have it all as long as they go into the race with their eyes fully open, and are prepared to say "enough" when the time demands.

10:07PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

She will be able to have it all because she can afford it, can afford help and probably will be able to take off when she needs to do so. Most women aren't so lucky, and have a harder or impossible time to have it all. But I say "good for her" that she has crashed thru the glass ceiling with a baby on board and I hope she does a bang up job there, and am sure she will be a great mom. Women who break barriers, make a hole for others to get thru. Maybe she'll have a nursery in her office or at her job, and then maybe other places will do so. Women make all things possible.

5:46PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

nobody can have it all

3:43PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

She'll "work through it" like a good little robot.

12:17PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

Would you ask this same question of a male? Women routinely work up to the time of delivery and most are back on the job at 6 weeks. What of it? Women have dreams, goals, aspirations, brains, and talent just as men do. We are more than breasts and a uterus. Marissa will have her baby and then have hired help and the father who has a flexible schedule help care for the baby. Have you never heard of nannies, day care, and baby formula? Geez, this IS the 21st century!

11:26AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

Uhm no nobody can have it all sorry.

7:58AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

David- historically you are accurate in terms of maternity leave and mothers however times have changed. Previously the many women were not in the workforce but stayed home. Yes, they had responsibilities at home especially if it was farming but the mother was able to keep the new child with them at all times. This allowed the mother and child to exclusively breast feed and bond. Our society has yet to adapt to the changing demands on women who are now not solely in the home and often are the breadwinners in the family.

7:53AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

I wish her luck in her new job, and hope she and her new baby (when the little one comes) will be happy and healthy.

5:10AM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

Thank you for the article...

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