Silicon Valley Superwoman … or Fooling Herself?
July 17th, 2012, posted by Aimee
When news hit earlier this this week that 37-year-old Google executive Marissa Mayer – a bona fide “female geek chic” celebrity in SF/Silicon Valley circles and beyond – had been named CEO of Yahoo, reaction from most of the media and fellow female execs on Facebook and Twitter seemed overwhelmingly positive. Sure, Yahoo is a bit like an old dog limping along without much direction these days, but perhaps this cool chica (whose street cred was only slightly damaged by several fluffy profiles in glossy fashion mags over the years ) would be just the fresh blood needed to engineer a turnaround.
But then another angle on the story trickled out. Mayer announced she is expecting her first child in October, making her approximately six months pregnant as she steps into the CEO shoes. Morning show pundits, radio hosts and snarky blogs all began to weigh in on the topic of whether a 37-year-old woman expecting her first baby in just over three months could possibly handle such a huge job with this on her horizon. Some writers, such as this post by a blogger on Jezebel, pointed out that even raising a question about Mayer’s competency is sexist and misogynistic.
I’m not so sure I agree with her point of view, to be honest. Obviously, given the topic of this blog, I am a strong champion of working motherhood and I applaud the fact that a brilliant entrepreneur such as Mayer has the guts to pursue the career opportunity of a lifetime even in the face of impending first-time motherhood. . And she has stated right up front that she plans to work through her maternity leave. However, I hate the fact that if I admit what I am really thinking – that I doubt Mayer has a clue how much her universe is going to change in just a few short months and it’s going to be a hell of lot harder than she thinks, no matter how much help she hires or how committed and brilliant she is. I realize that voicing these kinds of doubts might inadvertently play into the dangerous stereotypes that lead to workplace discrimination and glass ceilings for women.
But come on. I don’t care how many nannies, cooks, drivers and whatever else round the clock help you hire, going back to work immediately after having your first child is going to be rough – emotionally (hello mommy guilt and fat pang) and physically (try sitting on a donut for a week and desperately warding off mastitis with bags of frozen peas). And even if you are in the corner office, pumping three times a day is a major drag.
Who knows? Just to get where she has today, Mayer is obviously some kind of a superwoman of sorts. Now it just remains to be seen whether she can be a supermom as well. What do you all think? Let me have it. Am I being lame? Does voicing these thoughts set back the cause of women’s advancement in the workplace? And if you could give Marissa Mayer any advice right now, what might it be?