Many of you may have read about the appointment of Marissa Mayer as Yahoo’s new CEO. She comes from Google, and is anecdotally often referred to as Google’s employee #20. She is young, beautiful, brilliant, and oversaw the creation of some of Google’s most high profile products like Gmail. She’s also credited for the clean uncluttered look behind Google’s search page.
Just Google (haha) her name, and you will see a beautiful young woman who is now in charge of one huge and important corporation. And she’s pregnant. I read with disbelief today, about how people are criticising her for being successful and pregnant, and …heaven forbid…of being pregnant and in charge of a global internet force.
Helloooooo…am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture?
She’s pregnant, not sick. She’s pregnant, not incapable of using her considerable brain power and judgement to run a company, no matter the size. Comments like the ones I read today, like she should have disclosed to shareholders that she was pregnant before her appointment really make me wonder whether we are sweating the small stuff as a global people. And also whether we have really moved on in the gender equality stakes.
The Harvard Business Review blog article “Being Pregnant Is the Least of Marissa Mayer’s Challenges” points out that “being pregnant re-activates all our long-dormant, or perhaps just repressed, biases about women. Yes, we have female soldiers in combat, female CEOs, female doctors, female lawyers, female editors-in-chief – when you’re wearing a suit (or an M-4) it’s easy to forget you have those weirdo ladybits that seem to make people doubt your competence. Not so when a woman is pregnant… Harvard Business School’s Amy Cuddy … agreed via email, adding that “moms are also viewed as less committed”.”
I know that I’m not the only vociferous voice against those who buy into the nonsense of pregnant women and Mom’s being less committed. If you are a Mom, have a Mom, are married to a Mom, have Moms as friends, and the list goes on, know that Moms are some of the most committed and determined people on this earth.
I work with many Moms who are in very senior positions who work long hours. Nothing uncommitted about them. I have Moms in my family that in between giving birth and breastfeeding a baby, have successfully passed their university exams. Nothing uncommitted about them either. I know Moms who worked right until the last day before giving birth. Nothing uncommitted about that.
Through sick children, first days at school and the organising of countless birthday parties, juggling a home, and in many cases a marriage and a full time job, a Mom is simply the whole package.
Going back to Marissa Mayer – I think people should rather be asking her how she plans to turn Yahoo around and what her vision for the the company’s future is, rather than focusing on her impending motherhood.
I know that what I’ve touched on is merely the tip of the iceberg as regards this contentious and controversial topic. What Marissa Mayer has to do is nothing new or insurmountable. Nothing that hasn’t been done before. The difference between her and the countless other Moms and Moms-to-be out there, is that she is doing what she has to do under the spotlight of the media. And that is no enviable task.
Author’s note: Regina is not a Mom but she has many friends and family who are, some stay-at-home Moms, and she observes with awe and admiration, the commitment, sometimes sacrifice, and sheer joy of motherhood experienced by these special people in her life.