Marissa Mayer becomes CEO of Yahoo and proves women cannot have it all

Today’s news: Marissa Mayer was just appointed CEO at Yahoo. She is a very early employee at Google,  Silicon Valley icon, and she’s six months pregnant. She has announced she’ll take only two weeks maternity leave.

My reaction: I’m so sick of people saying that women like Marissa Mayer are trailblazers when they take on huge corporate responsibility instead of taking care of young kids at home. Leaving kids at home so you can do a big job at the office is old news. People have been doing it for decades.

Marissa Mayer is very Sheryl Sandberg: smart, driven, hard working, a high achiever. She represents all the things that we celebrate in our culture.

Do you know what we do not celebrate? Staying home with kids. There are no official titles or pay scales. It’s disappointing to women who don’t have kids to watch another woman with a fascinating, fun career leave that career to take care of her kids. It scares the women who don’t have kids. No one aspires to be the woman who dumps a great career to step out of the spotlight.

Here are some samples from the media reporting on Marissa Mayer:

• “What a role model,” writes Claire Cain Miller for the New York Times. “By taking such a powerful leadership role while she is pregnant, Ms. Mayer, who has always been outspoken about encouraging girls to study computer science and pursue technology jobs, is becoming an example in the mold of Sheryl Sandberg.”

• “We think this is a first,” notes Colleen Taylor forTechCrunch. “It’s hard to think of a time when a CEO of a major listed tech company has gone on maternity leave. It could certainly be a trailblazing turn.”

• Writing for the Atlantic Wire, Dashiell Bennett writes in the Atlantic Wire, “she’s not just fighting for all women, she’s fighting for all the moms out there too. It doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to see that Mayer will now become the poster mom for the ‘can women have it all?’ debate.”

Why do we celebrate Mayer’s decision? Why does Mayer fight for all women? You know why people don’t like to hire pregnant women? Because it is completely normal to have a new baby and be so consumed by the new baby that you divert lots of energy to that baby. In fact, it would be abnormal to not divert a significant amount of energy to a new baby.

So why do we celebrate women who are aberrations? Clearly only a minority of women could even dream of making the choice to take two weeks maternity leave when they have enough resources to take much more. Her decision is an anomalous decision.

The most revolutionary thing you can do for women right now is to stop celebrating women who choose to work 120 hours a week when they have a new baby. It’s been forty years since we have been able to say publicly that someone needs to stay home with a baby, forty years of feminism rammed down everyone’s throat. We need new ideas for the lives of women. Women should be able to be celebrated for making a wide range of choices. If Marissa Mayer stepped down to take care of her baby, would people say Marissa Mayer is a poster girl?

Women are driven to take care of children. Pew Research reports that the majority of women would like to work part-time, not full-time. This is important information because it means the role model for women will work part-time. The media needs to stop pretending that women want huge jobs while they are raising kids. It is not interesting to discuss what Marissa Mayer will do as a mom. Given the choice, very few women would ever choose to go back to work after two weeks.

On top of that, Mayer has never even had a baby before. So we now have a spokesperson for mothers at work who has never even been a mother. And if she goes back to work two weeks after she has a baby, she will have very little sense of what being a mom is like in the way that most of us are being moms—that is, sapping our energy for our kids. You can’t do that in a job like running Yahoo. A person does not have that kind of energy.

You can have kids and not let them sap your energy. It can be done. Very few women would want it, so why do we bother talking about it as something inspirational? The media is stuck in the 1970s. Reporting about women in business is stuck in the 1970s. I’m bored by it and you should be too.

What should we be interested in? What is not 1972 all over again? Here are tactics for a post-feminist generation:

1. Marry rich and spend your husband’s money to fund your own startup so you have a part-time job after you have kids. The poster-girl for this is Fred Wilson’s wife who is now an investor. But tons of VCs I know have told me about “my wife’s new app” and almost everyone I know in this position does not want to be called out for it. But it’s all over the place.

2. Go back to school when you have young kids to get a PhD. Not because you’ll do anything with it, but because you’ve been a high-achieving intellectual your whole life and the lack of an endgame for raising kids is disconcerting. So you create a goal for yourself that is manageable while you have kids and you meet it. This also serves to present you with a wide array of fascinating conversations with smart people, which is totally lacking in the world of small kids all day long.

3. Have kids very early. When you’re 25. Really. I think it will work. Women who do that are in a great position to ramp up their career during their 40s, when their kids are gone. Having kids early avoids the difficult pattern of building a career, scaling back a career, and building all over again. Having kids early means you only ramp up once.

4. Quit and stay at a big job. This is when you don’t leave your big job physically, but you do it in your sleep. Literally. You cut back on your hours without getting permission, which you can do because you were working 14 hour days before the baby. You do not initiate new projects, you refuse almost all travel, and you don’t ask for a raise. You see how long you can stay in the high-level job and spend time with your baby and not get fired. Eventually, people will either write you off as dead corporate wood and leave you alone at work, or they will fire you. Either way, it’s a good way to see if you can hold on to the rung you climbed up to and still take care of your kids as much as you want to. Look around the office. You’ll see tons of women doing quit and stay. They’re waiting until their kids get older and then they’ll switch jobs and ramp up and go back to climbing the ladder.

These are just four examples. I see a lot more. There are a lot of innovations from women at work who are determined to take care of kids and have an interesting life at the same time.

And now is a great time to plug my new book: The New American Dream: Blueprint for a New Path to Success. Because the new American Dream is about having an interesting life, not making a lot of money. And women who have kids want to have a part of that dream. We don’t want to get left behind intellectually; we want to be part of all the innovation going on in the world. It’s old-fashioned to think this means we have to leave a newborn baby in someone else’s arms to go back to work and run companies.


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  1. c30fan
    c30fan says:

    While I agree many women would not want to do what she’s doing, I think it’s completely up to her how to choose to live her life and it’s great that if she’s qualified and wants to run a corporation then she can and the board isn’t denying it to her because she’s pregnant. Whether she decides to stay or quit after the baby comes and grows, who knows? She is a first-time mother and like you said, even she doesn’t know. Also, no one has mentioned whether he husband is committing to stay-at-home or what-not. I agree with you most of the time, Penelope, about biology and that it’s usually women who have the urge to be the caretaker and all that, but sometimes it’s not that way and Marissa deserves the benefit of the doubt. I might applaud her and the board right now, but how it turns out for anyone (including the kid) is yet to be determined.

    • csts
      csts says:

      Yes, I think this is the main point — that it’s her choice. Therefore she’s standing up for all women only in that she’s getting to make her own choice, albeit in a very public way. It’s not about whether hers is a good choice or not, but only that she gets to make it.

      I agree with you, Penelope, that trying to be super-executive and super-mom at the same time is unlikely to produce good results. That was my choice, which cost my children a great deal, both then and in consequences since then. Their resentment has subsequently cost me a great deal. But that’s not the point. Women are not the same, children are not the same, and even if they were, why do we get to dictate to someone else? Pre-feminisim, women had only one choice; the feminist revolution cost them that choice and brought them another dictated option. Post-feminism, I think it’s about not dictating but leaving it up to each woman, and about assuming that women overall will naturally vary in their choices. If hers is a bad choice for herself and/or her children, she and they will pay the price. Isn’t that basically how everything works? :)

      • Southern Man
        Southern Man says:

        Let’s look at it from the man’s point of view. Pre-feminism: when the wife had kids, he worked. Post-feminism: when the wife has kids, he works. Many woman are in a position to make such a choice. Most men are not. That’s why many blogs in the manosphere have been rolling their eyes at this “women can’t have it all” whining. As one commenter said: “Any woman that ‘has it all’ also has a great husband that makes it possible.”

          • Helen
            Helen says:

            Exactly, Becky. “Southern Man” has it all arse about. Men have been able to “have it all” – look for the framed photos of the family on the corporate desks! – because women have been expected to shoulder the domestic work long after any female-specific tasks like childbirth and breastfeeding are long finished. They are the ones expected to give up their ambitions, their hopes, their interests, to care for others. To do Penelope justice, all the other recent writers on this topic, except for Amanda Marcotte, have failed to see this side of the equation.

    • Samantha
      Samantha says:

      I find it so interesting that comments say things along the lines that some women would just rather not stay at home with their children and leave them in the care of someone else, that they might want to work and should be able to make that choice. If a woman does not have to work, why would she want to leave the care of her newborn to someone else? Our culture has become so engrained in being the individualist that what’s best for society falls to the wayside. What about what is best for the child? Children don’t choose to be born, and it is selfish for a woman to think of her career before the well-being of her child, especially when she can stay home. The first year of life is crucial for developing bonds and trust with the caretaker, which should be the mother. If a woman can stay home, she should. There is no shame in that; in fact, it is admirable, but unfortunately our culture does not value mothers and children the way the rest of the world does.

      • Lisa Sullivan
        Lisa Sullivan says:

        your comments are disgusting. i do not have to work, i CHOOSE to. my kids are healthy, happy, smart, and productive members of little kid society. How dare you judge other people’s choices? you want to stay at home? Great! Good for you! You do not know my kids and you have no right to judge my parenting just because i like to work. My mother chose to work as well. I couldnt respect her more for setting such a great example for me. Our relationship never suffered and i consider myself smart and well rounded.Her staying home wouldnt have made me a better person.

      • EngineerChich
        EngineerChich says:

        People have a right to their own choices. My mom worked and I had the glorious joy of being a “latchkey kid”. The 45-60 minutes I had alone every afternoon – without my older sister or either parent home – were the best part of my day. Marissa Mayer is making a choice that she is happy with.

        This blog post just seems like jealousy – Jealousy of someone else’s ability to CHOOSE to go back to work instead of P’s experience where she HAD to go back to work. Somehow I doubt Ms. Mayer will return from a long day at the office to begin a second shift of laundry, cooking, cleaning, and caretaking. At her income level she can afford to have in-house help manage those parts of her life & she can focus on her work and enjoying time with her child … without having to get up 4 times a night for feeding/changing. I don’t see the problem here.

        • DB
          DB says:

          Yes – let’s be clear – if you are Marissa Mayer, you get to recover from pregnancy / childbirth without all the hassle of feeding a baby 12 times every day and night. You will have a staff taking care of you and the baby, the cleaning, your meals, and your house; you will get plenty of sleep; the pediatrician I’m sure will be making house calls; you can spend good quality time bonding with the baby on your schedule and recuperate the rest of the time. Then you can go back to work, knowing that your baby has excellent, I’m sure very expensive, round the clock care. I am not knocking her by the way – if I had her resources I would LOVE to do the post-partum recovery this way too (though I would still take several months leave, not a mere two weeks).

          Side note – two years later it still boggles my mind that the way you get to “recover” from the tremendous physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth is by not getting any sleep and having still more tremendous physical and emotional demands placed on you. And I say this as the happy (but really busy / full time working) mother of a wonderful19 month old.

    • Paul Neubauer
      Paul Neubauer says:

      What is so often forgotten is that men do not have these choices. If a man does not have the developed career no woman will have him as a husband. However, more and more, men are being so marginalized that few can fulfill the role, to the detriment of both genders.

  2. frugallywed
    frugallywed says:

    While I agree you, I wonder why you don’t apply it to men as well. Is it that men don’t also want part time jobs that allow for more time with their families? Is it that men have already been too indoctrinated not to even think about anything other than a full time job? Working part time, especially if it involves working for yourself and calling the shots, seems like such an obvious thing to want (also, bonus: the mom doesn’t have to be the only caretaker). How come we don’t here guys talking about this?

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Men don’t want part-time jobs at nearly the same rate women do. Once kids enter the picture, men do not choose to cut back on their work at nearly the same rate women do.

      So we can talk about what men *should* want. But that seems just as unfair as talking about what women should want.

      And if you ask people what they want, which places like Pew are very good at doing, most women want part-time work after they have kids and most men don’t.


      • Tom
        Tom says:

        Please read Penelope’s reply carefully. It’s not about what any of us think “should be”. It’s about what “is”.

        This is the essence of what is wrong with the social sciences today. Social “science” should be about discovering and explaining how individuals and organizations actually work. Instead too many social scientist spend their time and effort trying to convince everyone that their personal preferences should be universal.

        • D
          D says:

          I don’t see why you extend her advice into an attack on social science. If anything, Penelope is an advocate of social science. She regularly links to studies that back up her claims.

          • Tom
            Tom says:

            Sorry, I wrote that late last night and it came out backwards. What I meant is that Penelope is doing what social scientist SHOULD be doing. She’s reporting what the data says.

            In contrast, many who actually call themselves social scientists have a habit of dismissing or twisting data in favor of their biases. In this particular case, you’d hear comments like “Sure the data says women want XYZ but that’s not what women should want. Therefore the data really shows that society is screwing up by teaching our children to want the wrong things.”

            Yes, I’ve actually had arguments like that with colleagues.

            This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything Penelope has ever written but I greatly appreciate the fact that she regularly cites data.

      • Arachna
        Arachna says:

        But what men want today and what men wanted 50 years ago is objectively, undeniably different. Especially when it comes to families, children and the relationship they want with them. And I would love to make a bet that in 50 years the number of men who want part time jobs while their kids are little is going to be a whole lot more than today.

        What women want today and what they wanted 50 years ago is objectively, undeniably different.

        People want what they’ve grown up thinking is ‘normal’. But what’s ‘normal’ changes with every generation. And in every generation people say “This is the way it is, this is the way it’s always been and will be, it’s biology or something and in any case that’s what women want” and 50 years later most people can’t believe that people really thought that way.

        It’s not new for people to focus on their careers while having babies but it is new for women to focus on their careers while having babies (elite women have outsourced almost all baby care taking as a norm before but it wasn’t for high profile careers exactly). And that’s why it’s so nice to see Mayer do it – I might or might not want to follow her example but it feels fantastic to see it as an option.

      • John
        John says:

        Penelope, do you really have data that shows men do not want to work part time?

        As a new father, I constantly think about getting home to spend time with my 2 month old. I would certainly go part time if it was feasible.

        Part time does not seem like a simple matter for many jobs (what is part time if you have a salaried job with frequent evening & weekend work), do many companies even allow men to do this (I know of a fair # of women who have gone part time, but zero men), in a rough economy would men dare ask their company to be so accomodating to their specific desires (I have watched almost half my department get let go in recent years)? Also, as a new parent, I feel a whole new sense of duty to be a strong provider for my child.

        • Rachel C
          Rachel C says:

          Also, Penelope, why are you so obsessed with making the minority conform to what the majority wants, here? Even if most women do want to work part time, plenty won’t. And what’s wrong with celebrating the choice of a woman in the minority?

    • Paul Neubauer
      Paul Neubauer says:

      Since you ask. Men would love this, but it’s not in the cards. The few wives who have consented to their staying home and caring for the kids eventually lost respect for them and divorced them, taking the kids. Men lose in court 95% of the time in this.

      After decades of Feminism, women have a complete lock on reproduction and all related family matters.

      Men understand that there is no option for them. There is only work, or get your next mean out of a dumpster. That is it.

      If you want something different, launch a crusade for men.

  3. Frank Vitale
    Frank Vitale says:

    I am a new reader to your blog and enjoy your take on this subject quite a bit. In particular your list of the four tactics for the post-feminist generation was interesting, especially the quit and stay tactic. It has never made sense to me, why someone who makes the choice that Marissa Mayer is making should or would be celebrated.

  4. Lisa P
    Lisa P says:

    It’s possible that she doesn’t really want to know her child. Maybe she wants one just because and to see it as often as she would a distant relative. If she wants that, AND to be a CEO…then she can have it all.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      It’s possible but I think that getting pregnant at 36 is a very conscious choice (and it requires lots of effort most of the time) so I think she may have sat down and think hard about how this would affect her. Then decided it was worth it for her. So she must reeeeally want it!

  5. Lisa P
    Lisa P says:

    The ironic thing about the envy feminists have for a man’s ability to have a career is that most men don’t necessarily want to work. Most men want something else (women, money, a sense of duty, status, power) and work is just the most socially acceptable way for them to get it. If they got what they wanted without having to work for it, they probably would just sit on their butts all day and enjoy themselves. So feminists basically hate the fact that they have ovaries and yet they are nothing like men because they don’t even understand them.

    • Danielle
      Danielle says:

      Eh, I think a lot of women get that and actually want what work can get them, just like men. I.e., money, a sense of duty, status, power.

      • Mel
        Mel says:

        but sometimes it’s easier just to marry into it. so really, nowadays, it seems that women DO have more options than men. actually wait, a ton of guys marry women for status.


    • Terry
      Terry says:

      Seriously? I am a feminist and I certainly don’t hate the fact that I have ovaries. Ignorant statements such as this one do not help to make your point.

  6. Kim Galla
    Kim Galla says:

    Two weeks is the length of time a man would take off between two huge jobs. Actually, a month is. But God forbid she do that, because taking a real maternity leave might telegraph “showing weakness.” Sigh. I hope her baby is born healthy, that the delivery is emergency-free, and that she herself doesn’t have any physical or emotional complications that often accompany childbirth. All those carefully laid plains and controlled outcomes go right out the conference room door when Nature steps in.

    • Roberta
      Roberta says:

      Her first child? Oh dear. It would be nice if her husband stayed home with the baby, but she’ll have to pump. One day her kid(s) will grow up and you know what they will say? NO MORE WIRE HANGERS! (Look it up!)

      • victoria
        victoria says:

        She doesn’t actually *have* to. If I were in her position I would almost certainly bottle feed.

        • Jeff
          Jeff says:

          Victoria, sure, why breastfeed and establish a life long bond, enhanced via oxytocin secretion, with your child. Why would that be important? After all, I am sure when “mom” is in her 80s, all those previous underlings from her CEO days will come calling every day.

          Giving up your relationship with your children for anything, but in times of necessity, is short-sighted and pathetic for men and for women.

          • redrock
            redrock says:

            breastfeeding is not the only way to have a close relationship between mother and child. And friendships can hold for a lifetime. Yes, it might well be that her friends and colleagues are still theres and close when she gets old.

          • Mrs. Walsh
            Mrs. Walsh says:

            I think the point Victoria is getting at is that breastfeeding a newborn while holding as demanding a job as a CEO are not compatible. Anybody can care for a bottle-fed newborn.

          • victoria
            victoria says:

            What Mrs. Walsh said. I’m pro-breastfeeding. I don’t think the benefits are as powerful as its most staunch advocates claim, but that’s neither here nor there; it’s the best choice for most families most of the time.

            But assuming that “two weeks” really means “two weeks, then back to the type of schedule we’d expect from a man whose wife just had a newborn,” I just don’t see how nursing could work. With a two-week old, she’d either have to spend a LOT of time pumping at work to keep her supply adequate, or her partner/nanny would have to bring in the baby to nurse, which would mean she’d have to stay at work longer each day to make up that time. That could add another two to three hours to an already long workday easily, depending on how efficient she can pump/how quickly the baby feeds. Plus she’d have to take all the night feedings.

            I just don’t see how that can work. If I were in her position I’d probably do the first 48 hours to get the colostrum, then bottle feed, do as much hands-on baby care as I could between getting home and bedtime and maybe a little first thing in the morning, and then have one of the retinue of paid staff I could afford handle nighttime feedings so I could function at work. I guess doing one or two evening feedings would be an option, but most people’s supply wouldn’t last doing that.

  7. Jennifer Louden
    Jennifer Louden says:

    I agree – the mainstream media story is boring and sick. BUT here is what’s interesting –the New York Times cover story this Sunday about the gap between married moms and single moms. How can we help those women, who will never be able to marry rich and who did have the kids when they were 25, and are now living at the poverty line, even though they are intelligent and motivated to make their lives better?

    • Laura
      Laura says:

      I couldn’t agree more Jennifer. Penelope loves to bring in the stats to prove a point yet she is totally wrong on the have babies when you are 25 thing.

      Because it has been widely researched and acknowledged that if we marry later, after 28, we are much more likely to stay married.

      As if women don’t have enough pressure? The pressure to meet the right guy procreate and stay married to him is hard enough but even harder when you are in your early 20’s, still working out who you are in the world.

      And the reason she gives this advice is because then women don’t have to ramp up twice. What is so wrong with ramping up twice rather than having a baby to the wrong mate in the first instance?

      By giving this advice to have babies so early is setting ambitious women up to fail because too many become single moms trapped in the cycle of poverty with little to no prospects to marry a rich man later on.

      • scout
        scout says:

        I don’t think she’s totally off base with the “have kids early” thing. I think Penelope is typically making the assumption that the group she is speaking to is professionally educated and generally upper middle class women that know they are interested in having a family. It doesn’t really work for women in different circumstances. I was one of those women- 22, engineering degree, liked the idea of my career but knew without a doubt that I wanted a family. Family was the most critical piece of my future. I found a great guy that wanted the same thing. Married at 24. We waited until I was 28 to start having kids when I would have loved to start right away. We spread our kids out over 8 years when I would have loved to have them closer together. I have no real regrets, but looking back, the reasons I waited weren’t about what was best for us but about some odd expectation that because I was an engineer I wasn’t allowed to waste that and I should hustle back ASAP. I wasn’t supposed to live in a small house and clip coupons. That was all a pile of crap. I still have many years of possible working life ahead of me, but I look at folks like Rebecca Woolf, a writer who is 30 and has completed her family, and I am jealous of the possibilities.

      • Tianna
        Tianna says:

        Well, I had my first Master degree by the time I was 21, married at 22, had my first baby by 24. Had to drop out of the Phd program because of that. Worked all this time, taking only 1.5 year to stay home with my first-born.
        Immigrated to a different country, had another baby at 30, another Master degree in my third language at 35 when I started my second career. Stayed with the second child home for 2.5 years.
        Divorced at 37. So I’m a single mother with a pretty good career and above average earnings now when I’m 42. Look very good and young for my age and pains me so much when people assume looking at my 19 year old beside me that I had him as a teenager.
        I don’t want to marry a rich man to improve my life, I can do it because I had a good education and am capable of caring for myself and my children.

      • Help4NewMoms
        Help4NewMoms says:

        Hey…I had my first child at 25, have stayed married, and am now starting to be able to spend more time on a career…just like Penelope said. We simply can not get around biology. The fact is women were meant to have children in their twenties…wouldn’t we be better served in picking the right guy to have those kids with than to simply wait to have kids? We can’t beat biology.

    • Jeff
      Jeff says:

      Jennifer, tell those women to stop voting for more and more rules and tell them to stop voting for more and more third world immigration. Not too difficult to grasp. More rules = convoluted systems that breed corporatism and reduce competition = lower economic output. Massive unrelenting 3rd world immigration lowers wages, makes family formation exceedingly expensive (credit the great Steve Sailer) and brings serious social unease (read Bowling Alone). Really, women do it to themselves by constantly voting based upon their limbic desires: what can I get, what welfare can I ensure; I want to help the poor people; I hate mean people who bring up hard to stomach realities, etc. I feel for all the poor men and women of the world. Too bad so many are suffering by their own votes.

      • help4newmoms
        help4newmoms says:

        Jeff – Wow! Take heart, some Moms ARE constitutional conservatives…take heart. I would like to hear more about your theories because I agree that over the years more harm has been done to a mom’s causes than good all without her knowledge.

    • Lisa richmon
      Lisa richmon says:

      Good question. I started a pilot roaming wellness program a few years ago targeting that woman. The idea was to appeal to her employer who wd invest in resources that my tesm wd provide designed to enrich the daily life of working warriors…still trying to figure things out:)

  8. John Coe
    John Coe says:

    Marissa Mayer is no more normal than Larry Page is normal.

    Focused, obsessed nerds get to places most of us don’t, maybe deservingly. No, that doesn’t make them good parents in many cases.

    But it is true that no one asks if male CEO’s take paternity leave. That’s why it’s so important to stop badgering women about their family choices. It’s about equality of standing.

    By questioning whether we should celebrate Mayer for her career, I believe you’re crossing a line.

    Commenters who singled her out for praise related to her maternity leave decision were just as wrong.

    The story is about whether Marissa Mayer is a great achiever and a great chief executive. End of story.

    That doesn’t mean we need to deny that she is a woman and a mom, but in no way is she a “spokewoman for mothers at work.”

    Back to considering a female CEO as an equal, and recognizing her for her work role. None of us report on big company CEO’s for any other reason.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      This would be a great observation if the media treated Marissa’s achievements the way you write about them. But, if you notice, the media excerpts I published here all talk about how she’s a model for women, she speaks for women, etc.

      And, frankly, Larry Page is a way better model for men than Marissa is for women. If you ask men if they would like Larry Page’s life, I think the majority would say yes.


      • CSGeekGal
        CSGeekGal says:

        Marissa Mayer is absolutely a role model for me and I am a woman. I look up to her and glad that she is becoming a ball busting F500 CEO. I want her life any day. I am so happy she is not doing guilty/maternal feeling crap that all woman are expected.
        She can hire the best nannies and household help money can buy, her husband can take care of the baby, baby will survive just fine. Men do the same and no one raises an eyebrow. I absolutely believe being CEO of a Fortune500 company is once in a lifetime opportunity not to be wasted away for changing baby diapers. Go Marissa !!

        • Jeff
          Jeff says:

          Ball busting? So to be a good CEO you need to be ball busting? What a joke. Why not results-driven, but supportive, ethical, historical, visionary and transcendental? Good bosses are not ball busting, they are brilliant motivators, but unafraid to dismiss staff when results are not realized.

        • Bianca
          Bianca says:

          Raising children is not about “the baby will survive just fine”! You don’t want your children to just “survive”, you want them to grow & thrive! HUGE difference! I’m hoping that you don’t have any kids. #shakingmyhead

          • Rachel C
            Rachel C says:

            I want my kids to grow up and have real choices, not be shamed into staying home and looking after their own kids all day.

    • MAO
      MAO says:

      Thanks Joe. If we are going to get to equality in the workplace you have made the perfect point. Let’s take the maternity issue out of the commentary all together. Is she going to be a good CEO???
      End of discussion. Why does all the other stuff need to be rehashed??? It is her personal choice and it might not be mine but…. The end.

  9. Aria McLauchlan
    Aria McLauchlan says:

    Penelope, you raise some excellent points and offer some interesting and certainly worthwhile alternatives to the motherhood / career / money making balance. I agree that the issue of unpaid, undervalued ‘women’s’ work is abhorrent.

    However I don’t think this is an issue of media focus.

    We should be talking about the fact that pregnant women or women who have the potential to be pregnant very soon rarely even have the *opportunity* to make this decision as they are so rarely considered for prominent positions of responsibility, particularly in big companies.

    Lets congratulate Mayer’s for a) getting the position and b) agreeing to keep it and focus on it as she also takes on motherhood. That the company culture accommodates her decision speaks volumes about Yahoo. We should be so lucky to even be in Mayer’s situation.

  10. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    How is she going to take just two weeks off after having a baby? Having a baby is like sh*tting a pumpkin — you don’t just bounce back. She’ll be lucky if she can stand up by then!

    Not to mention how little sleep she’ll be getting.

    What’s bizarre to me is how much people think they can program their lives. Just because that’s what you decide you’re going to do doesn’t mean it’s going to happen that way.

    When I lived in Costa Rica, the tradition then (and I hope still now) was to add “si Dios quiere” after statements in the future tense — “if God wills it.” (I’ll meet you tomorrow at 4, si Dios quiere.) Hispanics understand how chance– not our will — rules life.

    Saying you will take just two weeks off to have a baby is hubris. It’s playing God. It forgets who we are — merely human. Life will tell us how many weeks we’ll take off for a baby.

    • Kelly
      Kelly says:

      Agreed! all bets are off once you have a child – your life/schedule are completely up for disruption. It was very short sighted of her to commit to coming back after two weeks and a glimpse of her not being in touch with reality.

  11. Tara Dillard
    Tara Dillard says:

    Prisms of views.

    Views of complete infertility, still born, SIDS, adoption, loss of a child thru accident, loss of an adult child due to murder.

    My own experience is one of the above, the rest belong to close friends.

    In the end, it’s not the job with any of the above.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  12. Alexis
    Alexis says:

    “Taking 2 weeks maternity leave” = code for, “Don’t let the fact that she is pregnant imply that she is not powerfully serious about this YHOO gig!”

    The truth of the matter is that she has never had a baby before. She doesn’t understand what the reality of “2 weeks postpartum” really means. That she will likely be bleeding like a stuck pig, weeping regularly, and will be so hormonal that decisions like “what size latte do I want?” will be overwhelming. I’m sure she’s smart enough and talented enough to fake her way through this period. But I’m sad for her all the same.

    I wish her all the best in her career. But the truth is that YHOO is largely a lost cause. If she turns it around she’ll be a Silicon Valley legend. Odds are however that it’ll continue its slow decline into obscurity despite her personal talents. And I’m sorry that she is going back to work after 2 weeks postpartum. Because nobody should have to or want to do that.

    Regardless of the choice to work or stay home, human beings need time to recover from giving birth. And 2 weeks is not it.

  13. Clara
    Clara says:

    One big reason Marissa Mayer is no role model is that the great majority of working women aren’t backed by Marissa Mayer’s resources — mainly the money that will allow her to hire around-the-clock care for her child and the corporate clout that will enable her to make her life as easy as people while at work (concierge laundry services, etc., etc., etc.). If you’re not on the same playing field, you can’t play.

    Your four “options for a post-feminist” generation” are worth considering (may I suggest that they might work in a feminist–no “post”–agenda too?). The fourth is particularly interesting because, based on personal experience, I suspect women would have a hard time buying into this one. To our detriment, women too often have felt the need to be the “straight-A students” of the corporate world, thinking that if we’re to be respected we have to be better than our male colleagues. Men, of course, figured out the “quit and stay” strategy long ago.

    • AnnO
      AnnO says:

      Yay!!! You said it – the only reason she can make this promise is because she will be the CEO. That means she can set the rules. She can bring the baby to work if she wants to (and the nanny!) and take fifteen minute breaks every two hours to feed it. Most women do not have this power yet they must make the same decision to return to work only weeks after giving birth because they can’t afford not to. Why are they not the ones in the headlines?

    • Helen W
      Helen W says:

      I was waiting for a comment like this! Someone had to point out that her two week maternity leave is only possible due to her ability to outsource every typical household chore and errand, plus also childcare I am sure with nurse/nanny regardless of whether hubby is around or not. Do regular daycares even take babies as young as two weeks? I doubt it. They didn’t in 96 when I had my son. It was difficult finding out of the home care for even a six month old!

      Interesting concept this quit and stay. I lived it and have seen it in numerous friends with children. Dead corporate wood, it is SO TRUE!! That was me, until I quit at the age of 42 to focus on my part-time business, when my son was 15. Penelope is so correct it’s not even funny.

  14. Dannielle Blumenthal
    Dannielle Blumenthal says:


    I don’t agree with #1 because it turns women into prostitutes and men into pimps. I followed path #2. You are a brilliant writer with great insight. Our children need mom and dad more than anything. Keep going and G-d bless!


  15. Sheela Clary
    Sheela Clary says:

    2 weeks of maternity leave? What is that??? My sister had her gorgeous second son two weeks ago tomorrow, and she’s very much still in blissful nursing and nurturing and nesting mode.

    My predominant reaction is of pity for her upcoming baby. God forbid he or she, like my beautiful nephew, has Downs Syndrome, or any other health problems.

  16. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I think it’s great Mayer got appointed to the job if only to achieve it in “a man’s world. The pregnancy thing, I think, doesn’t make her any more or less novel. And if they appointed her last year, I bet we’d still see mainstream media fawning over her. But that is just my opinion.

    On another note, I told my mom I needed to find a good man because I want to have a family in the next few years, regardless of what’s going on in my career. She turned a very scared shade of grey, like I just told her I had cancer, and told me to just worry about work. This is a bra-burning woman who came of age in the 70s, and never went to college. I’m 24, and did get a degree. Different generations, indeed.

    • karelys
      karelys says:

      No one writes pages about how the mom who works at McDonalds goes to work right after baby. She’s no role model for women. But this woman is? It’s stupid! The money difference is just huge!

  17. Mairzy
    Mairzy says:

    I am encouraged to read these comments by women who have the choice to work part-time or from their home. When I was raising my son, I was a single parent and the only option I had was to feed us both. That meant working full-time and since I had no family nearby, a lot of day care for him. And in order to keep my job, I had to return to work no more than six weeks after I delivered him. So I worked until I went into labor on Tuesday and was back on the job six weeks later on Wednesday.
    Penelope, I really do agree with you that women should have choices but the reality is that we all simply don’t. And no matter how you look at it, men and women are wired differently. There is no direct correlation between how we view or experience pretty much anything.
    Being a single parent taught my son not to be afraid of strong, independent women and to be comfortable not always having to be in charge. I love that about him.

  18. Esther Crawford
    Esther Crawford says:

    Hopefully she doesn’t end up needing a c-section because at 2 weeks post-op I was still needing help getting out of bed. I had planned a natural birth, but welcome to motherhood – the unexpected happens.

    Penelope, one thing you’ve never suggested as a way of women ‘having it all’ is to consider adopting or fostering an older child. There are other ways to build amazing families and there’s a huge need for families to step up and care for school-aged children.

    I have one birth son (age 3) and one adopted daughter (age 7, who came to our family at age 5) and am bootstrapping a startup right now. We relocated to San Francisco from Wisconsin because I wanted to be surrounded by the tech scene and because I love the culture of the city. I started young – I had my son at 25 – and we plan to adopt at least one more down the road when the kids are older. The catch is we’re only going to consider older kids so that our youngest remains our youngest. That will make me 43 when he’s 18.

    • Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot
      Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot says:

      All of this must be making me cynical but the first thing I thought when I read that Ester was I bet she’s having a planned c-section so she doesn’t miss any important Yahoo gigs.

    • Brenda
      Brenda says:

      Good for you Esther! Your plans sound great. After posting my comment about staying home with my boys, I forgot to mention that I am now raising a 9 year old foster child that we had since she was 4. Not by choice, this was a family need and we were the only ones available. I’m kicking and screaming all the way through it, but she is beautiful and as I work from home, and keep a good eye on her, we will make it though once again. And you CAN fall in love with someone esle’s child!

      • V
        V says:

        Kudos to both of you, Esther and Brenda. For choosing to step up. And for not choosing it, but doing it anyway (and being honest about the kicking & screaming part- love that).

        I wish more people thought like you two- it doesn’t have to be your own genes, and there are plenty of kids around that need love already. :)

  19. John Sylo
    John Sylo says:

    She cannot have it all, but yet wants it all. The problem is that this may lead to her losing it all. It’s sad to see how society downplays the importance of parenting, spending time with your children.

  20. Laura
    Laura says:

    THANK YOU for this. So beyond past due that we start having REAL conversations about motherhood and career. Somewhere along the way the feminist movement taught us that we (upwardly mobile white women) are ENTITLED to whatever we want, even if it must come at the expense of CHILDREN. The reality is, we make choices. And with those choices come consequences. And the other reality is that children need their parents, particularly their mothers during the first few years of development. We should be celebrating that which women are so uniquely qualified to do and instead we want to the world to raise our children and accommodate our choices while we aspire to be the next Marisa Mayer. Here’s a novel concept: If you want the big C-Suite kind of career, maybe kids aren’t for you. What’s wrong with applauding women who make a conscious choice to do their things their way instead of constantly pressuring women to have/do/be/want it “ALL”??

    • help4newmoms
      help4newmoms says:

      Hi Laura,
      What is so unfair about your analysis is that you are telling women they have to choose one or the other – motherhood or career. Number one: No one asks a man to do that, he can be successful career man and father. Number Two: Women have needs to succeed out side of motherhood, too – READ:Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Number Three:A woman who gives up her career puts herself in a VERY scary financial position if the marriage fails. These are very real issues for the women of our generation. To simply cut off their ability to succeed in a career once they give birth seems medieval not to mention wrong. PS. I was a SAHM.

    • Delina
      Delina says:

      You are exactly right. The *big girl* thing to do is: Make. A. Choice. Everyone suffers when women tries to do 3 full-time jobs at once.

      The reason why men don’t get questioned when going back to work 2 wks after their wives/partners had a baby is because men aren’t the one having the baby. They do not need postpartum recovery. They do not have out-of-control hormones. They do not have engorged breasts. It’s simple biology. It doesn’t have to be fair. It just is. When you leave the hospital, there is a whole list of (basic) things that you shouldn’t do for 6 wks. I guess they need to add running a F500 company to the list.
      It’s interesting that most people see her as indispensable to her job, but she can outsource mothering.

  21. Mrs. Walsh
    Mrs. Walsh says:

    What is with these people espousing a notion of equality that requires women to sublimate nature by choosing NOT to care for their newborns in favor of work? Marissa Mayer’s brief maternity leave is her prerogative but to hold her choice up as the paragon of gender equality undermines us working mothers who are balancing work and family. Almost as annoying is the “feminist” coverage of this story criticizing any questioning this choice. Why wouldn’t people question this unusual choice? That’s just crayzay.

  22. Rachel
    Rachel says:

    I am definitely of the ‘stay home with kids’ ilk. I don’t care what society thinks of that. My problem is I’m 38 and have not been able to find a suitable partner I can depend on. My PLAN was to have kids in my twenties, but I never got that opportunity. Still hopeful, but getting doubtful.

  23. ayelet lee
    ayelet lee says:

    “Because the new American Dream is about having an interesting life, not making a lot of money.”

    Yes Penelope, interesting is more important than money, but most of us are still on the money quest. Money provides options, more options leads to leading a more interesting life, (as long as there are not too many options, then we’re paralyzed!).

    My point is, we can say we’re not chasing money, but I think we actually are. Money is still how the business world rewards excellence.

    Love you, Love your blog, Can’t wait for the Rea-T show!

  24. Anna Spargo-Ryan
    Anna Spargo-Ryan says:

    We celebrate PEOPLE who are aberrations. This kind of response is not limited to women with children, but incorporates people with disabilities, people from lower socio-economic groups, people who have broken some kind of chain (cultural, religious, social), etc.

    I don’t agree with it, but I think we are mistaken in attributing this kind of response solely to women who have procreated.

  25. Kim Galla
    Kim Galla says:

    “Having it all” means different things to different people, depending on how much they do or don’t have. One person might think it’s working part-time from home and being able to wake your baby up from his nap. Another might think it’s having a job that pays enough to feed your children and put a roof over their heads (single moms and married moms experience this). Another might think it’s being able to put your master’s degree to work and set an example for your three daughters. As with most parenting moves we make (and there is no rule book), the proof often comes a decade and a half later. And most parents would do a lot of things differently — and a lot the same.

    I’d also like to remind everyone that nannies and working moms are not a new phenomenon. For centuries, mothers have worked — in fields, grocery stores, factories, hospitals, and, oh, yes, law firms, ad agencies and internet companies. Sometimes children were relegated to nannies and wet nurses by wealthy mothers. But more often they were handed over to relatives or neighbors so they mother could go out and earn a living.

  26. priscilla
    priscilla says:

    i don’t know what i love more… this blog post, or your brilliant SEO rich title. you amaze me.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I think I will respond to this. I actually think the best part of the post is the four ways to get through raising kids without going nuts over your career. But I knew I had to get Marrissa’s name in the title. So I like that you appreciate the SEO-ness of the title. And I liked that you gave me an opportunity to write the rejected title.


  27. kirk
    kirk says:

    Thank God that someone was not afraid to say it. When I saw this announcement on the news I was like “are they going to say how difficult it will be?” They just talked about the role model aspect. The example of taking only two weeks is outrageous–will she expect other women at Yahoo to only take two weeks, when men and women can take 12 weeks legally.

    CEOs at this type company don’t work a forty hour week–when will she see the kid? I know she can afford to have a team of nannies, but what about the woman who has to send her kid to daycare, if she can afford it?

    Who will raise this kid? Or does it even matter when she makes enough money to have someone raise it for her. I bet there will a full-service day care at Yahoo now, but what about the women who are on the waiting list at company day cares?

    The whole thing is so hypocritical it’s pitiful. This woman should not be a role model–how many Fortune 500 CEOs are women? Not many, and to hold up that one percenter as any kind of role model is just sad.

    • channa
      channa says:

      Actually, she couldn’t take 12 weeks legally; she wouldn’t be protected under FMLA because she won’t have been there a year. I’m sure they wouldn’t fire her for taking leave, but… just sayin’.

  28. Teresa H
    Teresa H says:

    I have an idea…. someone should write a blog article criticizing some successful woman’s choice to work vs. stay at home with her children. That will get people all riled up and lots of comments on the blog. How original and forward thinking!

    Yet, somehow I feel like I’ve seen this before… where though? Oh yes, every single freaking “mommy blog” on the internet.

    • Tina
      Tina says:

      and don’t forget to throw in some biological determinist drivel as well, to really get everyone going

        • Tina
          Tina says:

          Sorry, I couldn’t quite read your reply because it was obscured by a cloud of smug. Biological determinism isn’t science – it’s a philosophy supported by pseudo-science used to dress up cultural norms.

  29. rita vanderwaal
    rita vanderwaal says:

    As usual, another great post – I am so glad you moved to the Farm,because I think you have gotten even more amazing in your insights!

  30. kate
    kate says:

    It would only be a story if she announced she would be taking the 6-8 weeks ‘short term disability’ that is usually the only maternity leave that companies give, and that Yahoo was still hiring her and wanted her to run the company. That would be news and trailblazing.
    That said, I am surprised and a little impressed that the board of Yahoo would agree to hire her while pregnant. That should be the focus of the ‘story’ – not how much maternity leave she will/will not take. I would be interested to see the makeup of the board and 1. if there are any women and 2. if any of them (man or woman) have children (i am going to assume yes, in which case, they know damn well 2 weeks is highly unlikely).

  31. redrock
    redrock says:

    Be thankful to the feminists – they fought in the 60s and 70s so we now have the luxury to even think about choice. My grandmother and grand aunts were incredibly smart women and they did not have a choice. My mother did not have a choice once she got pregnant, and I am grateful to the women who came before me and worked tirelessly to give me the breadth of choices we have today.

    Around me I see all kinds of families: moms who are at the top in their jobs with stay at home dads, dads with 6 kids and homeschooling wives, young male students who take care of the kids, young students who have kids and do their studies part time, women without kids, men without kids…. All of them strong women who made a choice which is best for them.

  32. Liz
    Liz says:

    What’s most unfortunate about this is if Yahoo does ultimately fail and Mayer’s lead can’t turn it around, we will no doubt see fingers pointed at her pregnancy/dual role as corporate lead and mother as the cause for its failure. I’m 30 and single, with an advanced degree and a good job with which I could support a family, and, frankly, it’s women like Mayer whom I look to as trailblazers for women in business. I feel like if I do choose to marry and become a mother, my career WOULD suffer as a result. Is that fair? Is that right? Maybe. People face tradeoffs, and that’s part of the work/life balance every working adult, men and women, make for themselves. But I don’t think that comments that encourage women to rely on the resources of a man and to have kids young are what’s going to change the reality of Mayer’s situation, or mine, or women in my boat who, in spite of whatever successes we may have achieved, are made to feel like WE’RE DOING IT WRONG.

  33. Tereza
    Tereza says:

    In my time as a tech entrepreneur in New York, I’ve gotten to know “Fred Wilson’s wife” well. She is no “poster girl” for “marrying rich” and using those terms undermines the great progress we’re making here.

    Joanne Wilson and her husband married when neither had money. She carried them for years until his career took off (as she was extremely accomplished as a businesswoman in her own right). Everyone who’s been part of her groundbreaking Women Entrepreneurs Festival, or knows any of the (very fortunate) entrepreneurs she’s invested in, Joanne is as pro-entrepreneur and pro-woman as it gets.

    This is a woman who’s taken the great gifts she’s been given and plows them straight back into the community. Isn’t this activity and attitude we want more of? I sure do.

    Let’s work together and keep the tone positive. When we do, we move mountains.

    • erin
      erin says:

      Tereza, right on. Whatever your path, it’s about finding what works for you. Helping others find what works for them. And celebrating when you/they do.

      As for Joanne…Penelope, I sincerely hope you will go back and familiarize yourself with Joanne Wilson’s true story. The “poster girl” you describe is not Joanne Wilson. The real Joanne Wilson put her big, successful career on the back burner to stay home with her children once her oldest was born even though she stressed about money {it was tight} and missed working {like crazy}. This is all material she has openly written about on her blog ::

      Now that Joanne’s kids are older and she is actively advising/investing, all she is doing is trying to help others succeed at what they want to do. So, Penelope, why do you feel the need to swipe at her? And on top of it all, tell lies?

  34. Samantha Gluck
    Samantha Gluck says:


    My family celebrates staying home with kids and I want you to know what a huge part you’ve had in giving me strength and helping me withstand the verbal assaults from “career women” who have chosen to allow a nanny to raise their children.

    I was a highly successful pharma rep (among other things) and I quit it all in 2010 to start life as a full-time freelance health care journalist. I had stayed home for longish periods in between each of my four babies before, but really endured a lot of hardship from outside influences and because I was in an abusive and marriage that hurt my children and me.

    I left and remarried a wonderful man six years ago who encouraged me to stay home with our beautiful children. Now I’m happier than I’ve EVER been. I’m even more successful than I’ve ever been. I don’t make the salary I made before, but it all evens out because the success is all mine now — mine, my husband’s and my kids’. We’ve done it together.

    Thank you, Penelope, for standing in the gap for me when I needed it most. Thank you for your frank and honest blogs — the way you say things I want to say, but cannot say.

    Thank you, Penelope Trunk.

  35. redrock
    redrock says:

    A very good book which illustrates the struggle between professional and intellectual life and the life as a mother is “The Marie Curie Complex”. While it uses mostly examples rooted in science and engineering, it shows the passion of many of these women for their intellectual pursuits, and the conflicts they encountered and decisions they made when they became mothers.

  36. Zwwrasha
    Zwwrasha says:

    I have friends in a similar situation. She was only going to take a couple of weeks and ended up taking a month. He quit his job to help raise the children (twins). She went back to work in her high pressure job. The children seem to be doing extremely well. He is happy. She is happy. the children are happy. There is more than one way to approach this. It does not deserve your rant.

  37. JD
    JD says:

    None of the links above, nor anyplace else I can find, say that Mayer is taking a two week maternity leave. They say a “few weeks”. And the linked Claire Cain Miller post does not have the quote “What a role model”. Must you fudge to make your points?

  38. Richard Stephenson
    Richard Stephenson says:

    I applaud Mrs. Meyer for her courage for having a child and then taking on the Herculean task of the CEO of Yahoo. As much as you believe the American culture supports women in the workplace, you are hiding under a rock. How many women CEOs are represented in the list of Fortune 500 companies? According to CNN there are only 18 women serving in that capacity – that’s a pitiful 3.6%. So your readers need to understand that this is a rare occurance and support Mrs. Meyer’s decision because the culture is mostly against her.

    Too many women give up their careers and never find their way back to the workplace because they do not develop the skills to be successful. This is a function of opportunity and time. To be successful, men and women must have the opportunity to experience different types of business situations and find ways to resolve the problems to learn these skills. This takes time to encounter the problems and often people make mistakes that they learn from and use again to build other skills.

    I believe women can have both a family and a successful career but they need the support of their family, their friends, the culture and other women. Most people do not have such an opportunity as Mrs. Meyer. If successful, she will be held up as a role model for women since being CEO is so rare in our culture. The point is that the decision is hers and that penelope should support her decision.

  39. Brenda
    Brenda says:

    I love it, Penelope! My kids were born when I was 24 and 25. They are close, I STAYED HOME with them! We did without a few things, drove older cars, had picnics out of our car, and gained weight. I was determined MY kids were not going to be raised by a day care center or a nanny. The result, you ask? I have two well adjusted young men – Gen Y’s who are not all hung up on themselves. I worked HARD. I babysat whle they were toddling for extra money, when they went to grade school, I took part time jobs and QUIT those jobs when the job didn’t fit our lifestyle. I’ve had more jobs than I can remember and I ‘think’ that is what makes me a good recruiter and a good judge of character. My career has been great for a few years, I refused to be part of the feminist movement. I wish I knew more and have a healthy thirst for knowledge but will never regret staying home with my boys. Yes, my peers (who are no longer my friends) called me names behind my back and thought of me as spoiled because I didn’t work for money, but it was worth it. When the majority of women realize they CAN make it without that extra income and start paying attention to their own kids, the world will be a better place.

  40. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    I am the child of a mother who went back to work a week after her c-section. Of note: she scheduled the c-section for December 29, in order to have the tax benefit of an additional child for that calendar year. I’m not sure if that ruthless pragmatism has affected me for better or for worse, but here I am.

    Although I agree with Penelope’s suggestions (especially the quit and stay) for attempting to “have it all” (one of my least favorite phrases, as it is so subjective) the media issue here isn’t whether or not anyone – man, woman, mother, father, CEO, freelancer – can have it all. The issue is that it’s an issue.

    Life is the pursuit of “it all.” No one will ever achieve it.

    Who is anyone to judge what’s going on in Marissa Mayer’s uterus, and how that may hypothetically affect her ability to achieve her goals? It is not only boring; it’s irrelevant.

    So much more could be accomplished if we stopped focusing on the hypothetical issues that are beyond the scope of our control and instead concentrated energy on the things we can control, which exist beyond gender, age, and historical circumstances.

  41. Joan
    Joan says:

    Is it her first child? My money is that she’ll take longer than two weeks, even if it’s not public. All my friends have sworn they’ll go back, and as soon as they hold that bundle in their arms they wonder what other purpose in life could there really be?

    p.s Love her dress

  42. Sara Hawkins (@saving4someday)
    Sara Hawkins (@saving4someday) says:

    I feel badly for Ms. Mayer’s child who has already been relegated to being less important than a job.

    But you know what? While Ms. Mayer may be the first Fortune 500 CEO to head back to work after 2 weeks of maternity leave, there are thousands of women working minimum wage jobs that do so too. Not because they’re so important and high powered, but because the companies they work for don’t value the importance of being a mother to your infant child and so these women have no option but to go back to work to put food on the table and shelter over their family’s head.

    If Ms. Mayer was really inspirational and a role model, she’d take 12-weeks of maternity leave and show the world that a company can run just fine when good people fill the ranks and the CEO isn’t the only one capable of keeping the company on track.

  43. Sheryl Miller
    Sheryl Miller says:

    Penelope, I strongly disagree with you on this.

    I think the surveys, and cultural norms are taking a while to catch up with the reality of female breadwinners and higher IQs. Traditional roles are on their way out, and that includes expecting the woman to be the main caregiver. Here in the UK this is being reflected in increasing paternity leave rights and the ability for the woman to transfer more of their maternity leave rights to their partner.

    If we keep arguing that all mothers really want to be at home with their kids rather than being at work we are justifying the gender pay gap. We can’t have it both ways.

    • Paul Neubauer
      Paul Neubauer says:

      If your only metric is wages, you see a gender gap. If you measure quality time, flexibility and getting free money from someone else, the gender gap is hugely favorable to women. Men and women work the same hours by the way, though women devote more hours to home work.

      If you look at divorce court statistics and dating site entries, you can get a good objective feel for what women really want.

      When women give up the monopoly on reproduction, and its attendant privileges, protections and entitlements, then maybe there could be some measure of change.

      But ask, why do we have a child bearing gender? Why have we had this nearly century long effort to change this?

  44. Rachel D.
    Rachel D. says:

    Let’s all take a moment and envision ourselves as Marissa Mayer’s child for, like, 30 seconds.


    Doesn’t feel very good, does it. Kind of uncomfortable. You feel unwanted for reasons you don’t understand. You’re a baby. You don’t know what a “career” is. All you know is that your mom doesn’t want to be with you. Your reason for living is lost somewhere.

    I grew up with that felling and it SUCKED.

    But Marissa Mayers is a robot so she may not benefit from this exercise.

    The Test If You Should Have Children: Think about the child. Envision yourself as your own kid. Does your child feel loved or do they feel resented and a burden on you?

    Boom…there’s your answer.

      • Rachel D.
        Rachel D. says:

        This comment right here….perfect example. Thank you, sir.

        People underestimate the importance of empathy. A baby doesn’t know the difference between being left in a box at the nearest mission and being left by it’s mother to go to work. All they know is that they are being left, which creates all kinds of emotional problems. Your baby doesn’t feel loved while it’s mother is at work, but I guess that doesn’t matter; right?

          • Rachel D.
            Rachel D. says:

            1. I know the feelings firsthand being born to a mother that didn’t want her. Luckily I’m somewhat normal, but it still hurts and I still feel bad sometimes.

            Don’t lie to yourselves….your kids feel unwanted if you are not physically there for them, especially when they are babies….the feeling of being deserted gets created early on.

            2. Results: Look at all of the really screwed up adults, everyone who is incapable of having healthy relationships, the emotionally damaged kids, etc… The results of bad parenting are endless.

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