Mommy Wars: Mayer’s Turn

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO, has made bold decisions lately regarding maternity leave and telecommuting (Photo Credit: Magnus Hoij via Creative Commons License)

Marissa Mayer, Yahoo! CEO, receives attention about maternity leave and telecommuting (Photo Credit: Magnus Hoij via Creative Commons License)

Sandberg’s Sillicon Valley peer, Yahoo! CEO Marrisa Mayer, has received widespread yet unwanted attention by enforcing a strict Yahoo! policy.  While bloggers and critcs more often than not place the two together as the modern heads of feminism, Mayer refuses to be considered a feminist, and the two don’t have as much in common as everyone may think.

Last year, Mayer made headlines after only taking two weeks of maternity leave, then building a nursery in her office.  This year, the Yahoo! CEO abolished the company’s telecommuting policy in order to create a higher morale and “all hands on deck” workplace (she also introduced free food in the cafeterias…yum!).  Even though other major tech companies such as Cisco Systems have over 90% telecommuters and over 13.4 million Americans work out of the office, Mayer’s drastic move paid off after a recent survey revealed 95% of employees were optimistic about the company’s future.  However, stripping mommies away from their children has warranted many criticisms.

Lisa Solod of the HuffPost believes Mayer “is completely blind to the hundreds of millions of women who are not like her,” suggesting Mayer’s incomprehensible wealth and eagerness to work over tending for her children is insanely un-relatable to pretty much 100% of women in America.  Solod uses the concept of class to highlight Mayer’s incapacity to understand inequality since her power and money make her so far removed from understanding it.  Mayer’s Twitter feed also reveals the disdain of her decision.

While the critics instigate mommy wars by attacking Mayer, Sandberg defends her Sillicon Valley gal pal in her most recent TIME piece.  She notes that if a male had made the same work move Mayer had, it wouldn’t have received nearly enough attention.  Sandberg equalizes gender by stating, “I think flexibility is important for women and for men. But there are some jobs that are super-flexible and some that aren’t.”

The timing of Mayer’s policy and Sandberg’s book placed the two females, part of the mere 14% of women who are on corporate boards, as allies with the same views.  However, this AOL article illustratively depicts the stark differences between the two female pioneers, such as how they think of feminism, child rearing, maternity leave, etc.

It is unfortunate that these two have to share the spotlight at the same time, especially since Mayer’s rule shouldn’t have ever been that big of a deal.  If Yahoo! did have a male CEO who installed the same policy, we wouldn’t be talking about it.  Now that this hurdle has been jumped, the next female who instills a similar policy should hopefully not be as big of a deal.  As long as women keep normalizing gender in CEO roles by enforcing a rule similar to Mayer’s, not only will productivity and morale improve, but hopefully gender perceptions too.

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