I'm a bit in awe of Marissa Mayer. A self-professed geek, she was Google's first engineer and rose to power within the company. Then at just 37 this week she was named CEO of Yahoo, tapped to bring the struggling company back to the days of old. And oh yeah, she's pregnant too.
Just hours after it was announced she was taking over the reins at Yahoo, this little tidbit came out as well. She announced it on Twitter, saying, "Another piece of good news today -
@zackbogue and I are expecting a new baby boy." She's reportedly due October 7.
Wow. Good for her and good for Yahoo for not letting her pregnancy affect their decision regarding this key position. So often we see companies that penalize or even fire women because of pregnancy, so this is a great a great step forward for women on many fronts. But not on all fronts.
It was this line in an interview with Fortune that gave me more than a pregnant pause to all the happy thoughts about what an incredible example this was of women actually being able to find some semblance of work/life balance. She said, "My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I'll work throughout it."
A few weeks? Maybe she's superwoman, but a few weeks is barely long enough for the epidural to wear off. To think that she's going to be mentally and emotionally ready to go back and lead a company two or three weeks later and leave her baby is ambitious at the least; thinking that's what a woman has to do to keep such a position of power is depressing.
I so wish she and Yahoo would set an example -- that they would give her a full maternity leave, and that she would take it and still keep her position. Even just the minimum -- 6-8 weeks, and show the world that it's okay for women to have babies and then to care for them and themselves for more than just a few days. That they and their skills are important enough to the company that they'll figure out something in a woman's absence and welcome her and her expertise back with open arms.
I think too often women who do want to return to work are scared to take a full maternity leave, and end up working during the short one they take. I admit I was one of them after my daughter was born. It's often not healthy for the mom or the baby, and it's too bad it has to be like that because that's a time you can never get back.
Maybe once that baby is in her arms, Mayer will change her mind. Maybe she'll realize she needs more time to heal, bond, and just be with her new baby than she thought. If so, I hope Yahoo gives her that graciously without an impact to her role.
Oh, and if she could do something about Flickr in the meantime, that would be great too.
Do you think Marissa Mayer taking such a short maternity leave sends a bad message to women and corporate America? How long was your maternity leave?
Image via jolieodell/Twitter