Yahoo! has unveiled their new CEO and along with all the fawning over what a great selection she will be to lead the beleaguered tech giant came a little bit of news that will, most likely, spin the story in another direction.
Marissa Mayer is 6 months pregnant.
Fortune magazine reports the 37-year-old is due to have a boy in October.
So. Does it matter?
All Things D reports that Mayer’s pregnancy was not an issue to the company’s board.
“It was not part of the consideration,” said an anonymous person familiar with the situation. “Like every other professional woman, she has to weigh all the factors in doing her job and having a family.”
I have argued in the past that the glass ceiling for women is self-inflicted. Women don’t earn as much as men and aren’t promoted as often as men in the workplace because their key promotional years coincide with family years.
Take my family, for example. My wife was in line for a promotion that came up when she was pregnant with our first son. She didn’t challenge for the position as strongly as she would have liked, knowing that she was going to be taking a year-long maternity leave (as is permitted in Canada).
She was passed over for the job.
2 years later, she was pregnant again and we moved cities which meant another 14 months on the sidelines. When she was finally ready to rebuild her career, she had spent the better part of 3 years out of action, and had to start a few pegs lower on the totem pole.
That was 3 years of raises, work experience, and promotional opportunity that my wife missed.
Mayer’s salary will afford her the opportunity to have her spouse stay home, or afford superior child care to what the rest of working families could manage. Her circumstances are special, not the norm, but watch the headlines blaze for the rest of this week.
When my wife was interviewing for work in our new city with a 3- and 14-month-old at home, interview questions often drifted away from work experience and to our childcare situation. I’m guessing Marissa Mayer wasn’t grilled like that by the Yahoo! board.
Marissa Mayer may be a great hire for Yahoo! because the company is looking long term. They see the chance to grab a young leader filled with potential. My argument is I don’t think a 6-month-pregnant woman applying for a mid-level accounting position would be given that benefit of foresight.
Should a woman, 6 months pregnant, be hired as a CEO? Can she balance work and new family? Why aren’t these questions asked of men who are about to become new fathers?
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