Yahoo’s naming of engineer Marissa Mayers – who is six months pregnant — as the company’s next CEO, has spurred bloggers to offer praise and warnings. Some worry the appointment is high-risk and could cloud the way for other aspiring female execs.
(WOMENSENEWS)—The often separate blogospheres for women’s rights and technology have both been busy the past couple of days with the July 16 news of Google executive Marissa Mayer’s nomination to the CEO post of the troubled tech rival company Yahoo.
Mayers is six months pregnant and expecting her first child.
Some commend Yahoo’s decision to hire a pregnant woman to lead the Sunnyvale, Calif. company.
Hanna Rosin at Slate argues “this is a very big deal” because Yahoo interviewed a woman “dragging around visible evidence of her impending maternal state to a job interview, and then [decided to] take her on anyway.” TechCrunch believes she may be the first pregnant CEO of a publicly traded Fortune 500 company.
Mayer herself praised Yahoo for “showing their evolved thinking” when they didn’t hesitate to hire her after learning about the pregnancy, according to the New York Daily News.
Other commentators frown on Mayer for short-changing her maternity leave.
Mayer told Fortune that she would work through her short maternity leave, which will only last a few weeks. In response, one Huffington Post editorial lamented that she “casually dismisses the value of maternity leave by suggesting that a few weeks working from home is all that’s required,” worrying about its potential impact to pressure future women to follow in her footsteps.
For some, the company’s well known problems leave Mayer teetering on the edge of a “glass cliff,” where it’s easy to fail and where women’s careers can suffer tremendous damage.
Mayer, who worked at Google for 13 years, will be the fifth Yahoo CEO in as many years, according to the NY Times. The two most recent CEOs at Yahoo were both fired, signaling how troubled the company has been and the tough job she faces. The company’s stock has fallen 41 percent in the past five years, according to the AP.
“Thank you, Marissa Mayer – Now Don’t Mess This Up,” is the headline of a commentary at CNET, a tech news and review website. The writer warns that Mayer will inevitably come to represent all female executives with children. If she fails, there will be “the assumption that she failed because of her personal choices rather than because of poor business decisions or because of the mess she inherited.”
It has been noted that Mayer’s ability to go back to work so quickly is tied with her high status and salary. One writer at Mashable, a tech news site and blog, noted that she and other high-level executive women have the “luxury of being able to afford great child care to accommodate their schedules.”
For all her prominence as a high-level women in the technology sector, Mayer does not openly embrace feminism.
“I don’t think I would consider myself a feminist,” she said in a video for Makers, a series that showcases trailblazing women. “I certainly believe in equal rights, I believe that women are just as capable…but I don’t have the militant drive and the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think feminism has become in many ways a more negative word.”
Samantha Kimmey is a writer in Brooklyn, N.Y. covering women and politics this election season.