Weighing In: Mayer Standing On Merit, Not Stereotypes

Whatever side you’ve chosen in the new front of the mommy wars sparked by the hiring of Marissa Mayer as the new CEO of Yahoo (and you’ve likely chosen one whether you’ll admit it or not), there’s plenty of fodder to back your position. The internet has exploded with commentary, essays, and downright snarky opinion pieces – many completely contradicting the next. Is she doing a disservice to working mothers by taking minimal maternity leave? Is she hurting the women’s movement by trying to do it all? Is she hurting the cause of mothers who choose to stay home and want to be respected for that choice? Is she even qualified for the job? All of those questions … and more … have been covered ad nauseum over the past few days.

But really, at least as far as I am concerned, what I find the most interesting – and game-changing – is that the entire board governing the direction of a major corporation like Yahoo was able to find enough common ground to vote in a pregnant woman as CEO.

Think about that.

However Mayer and her husband choose to parent their progeny is really up to them. But how a board selects a leader to bring a Fortune 500 company to a more profitable position in the market – that’s worthy of discussion. With only a single woman to balance out the votes of the ten men who sit on Yahoo’s Board of Directors, one might have predicted that the vote might have gone very differently. Instead, reports indicate that when the board was notified by Mayer of her pregnancy, they were “unfazed” by the news.

I’ve seen first-hand that reservations and stereotypes can still exist when it comes to trusting a woman to lead even a very small tech firm, and so, while I send my hearty congratulations to Ms. Mayer for her new appointment, I also find it necessary to send kudos to the board members who were willing to look at the entire picture of what Mayer brought to the table and were willing to move beyond stereotypes to allow Mayer to make her own decisions about parenting and lifestyle.

Now if Mayer doesn’t deliver, the story will be about her performance – not about a board not giving her the opportunity to stand on her merit.

That’s progress.


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