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.


348 replies
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  1. mdhansen
    mdhansen says:

    Two weeks’ maternity leave? I think that’s tragic. I hope Ms. Mayer comes to her senses in the delivery room the minute her new baby is handed to her; reconsiders and tells everyone she’s taking 3 months off. Work from home. But bond with that baby. You will never get a second chance to do so.

    • Louisa
      Louisa says:

      Please Penelope be honest and correct your post! Marissa Mayer never mentioned “two weeks”, she said she likes to “stay in the rythme of things”.

  2. Susan G
    Susan G says:

    My grandmother worked as a school teacher and had two daughters, her mother was a farmer’s wife and had six children, my husbands grandmother taught school during day, worked in a department store at night and ran the family farm along with her husband and raised three kids.

    In history, the “all about my baby all the time” stay at home mother is an aberration. Before the feminist movement, women were working…they just weren’t alway being recognized, or paid.

    Being a good parent is about being the best form of yourself that you can be, loving your kids and doing your best to figure it all out as it comes.

  3. Penny
    Penny says:

    I am single, childless, female and I work in an office with tons of ‘quit and stay’s’. I can’t stand them. They come in late and leave early. They bring their kids in on slow days. I am not having kids and therefore I will never have a good excuse to begin screwing around at work.

    • Brad
      Brad says:

      As another commenter noted, Mayer is taking “a few weeks”, not “two weeks”, as Penelope misread or imagined. Two is more rant-worthy.

  4. Rachel G
    Rachel G says:

    This is so great! This is my favorite post ever!

    I mean, really, why is everyone so concerned about having it all? “Having it all” seems to be a euphemism for ignoring your kids. Why do women want it all? Why do MEN want it all? Why is everyone working so much? Clearly not so that we can have better lives.

  5. betty in munich
    betty in munich says:

    What’s wrong with outsourcing child-rearing and focusing on your core competencies? The trouble is the myth “a woman can have it all” be the CEO of Yahoo and a Mom. Well she gave birth to that child, but why are we so afraid to say, well someone else will be taking care of it for her and eventually raising her child? If she has a good child care provider, whether it is her husband, or full time live in help (several I imagine), or her mom lives with her and takes care of the kid – honestly, I have no problem with that.
    What I can’t stand is the myth that yep, I am CEO of Yahoo and I am going to do all the parenting too. Really? How can that be possible because parenting is a career with the same level of importance of being a Yahoo CEO. And really it’s okay if someone else is doing that for her kid, they might even be better at it than her. Why do we all have such a problem saying that?

    • Rachel D.
      Rachel D. says:

      Because outsourcing parenting is how un-feeling serial killers are made.

      To be a good parent you need empathy. If you lack empathy, which it seems a lot of people do by all of these comments, then you should not have children and hand them off to someone else. Just don’t have children and save the world from future unstable imbalanced psychotic people.

      Someone with empathy will outsource housework, but they will not outsource interpersonal contact with their children.

      Put yourself in your kid’s shoes. How would you feel?

      • Rachel C
        Rachel C says:

        I’d feel fine. I’d be hanging out with the person with empathy during the week, and with my mum and dad on the weekends.

      • Passingby
        Passingby says:

        @ Rachel D. –
        Check your statistics – most of the serial killers are made in loving, middle class families where mommy was 100% dedicated to her bundle(s) of joy.
        Lord, there are such envious people in the web!

        • Rachel D.
          Rachel D. says:

          It’s very easy to give the impression of a loving family. We all know families have secrets, even the most well-appearing families.

          I also agree that some people are just born with mental illness.

          What we’re talking about are conscious decisions, and the possible ramifications involved.

          I’m cursed with infinite amounts of empathy and compassion. Envy doesn’t fit with my personality. I thoroughly enjoy other people’s successes and am always the first person to help them get there. That brings me joy.

          • Chris M.
            Chris M. says:

            Too many nested comments, so I had to reply to the top message.

            “Other countries don’t need serial killers because their general population has it covered already. In other countries, abusing, beating, mutilating, stoning and killing are socially acceptable norms. ”

            No, Rachel, I’m from Brazil, and I can assure you that in my country none of what you describe is “acceptable norm”. You can check articles from The Economist about Brazil if you don’t believe it. Not that it matters much to what we were discussing, which is the issue of not being raised by our moms. None of my accomplished friends in Brazil who are doctors, lawyers, and engineers and good parents were raised by their mothers.

          • Rachel D.
            Rachel D. says:

            @Chris M Are you seriously trying to claim that there is no violence or crime in Brazil? *laughing*

            I associate and interact with educated people almost every day of my life, and I can assure you, that is no indicator of the caliber of human being they are. In fact, some of the most lecherous people have CV’s that are 10 pages long listing all of their accomplishments. So I do not see how that is relevant. A college degree does not make you a better, more loving parent or a better person. If this is what you’ve been raised to believe by your “caretakers” then I don’t know what else to say. I guess you’ve made my point.

      • Chris M.
        Chris M. says:

        I’m 45 and was raised by parents who worked full time and when I was a baby, also studied or taught at a graduate school at night.

        I was raised by paid help, with eventual support from grandparents and other family members.

        I’m the opposite of a serial killer, have a successful career and marriage, and a great relationship with my parents.

        In my country of origin (in South America) most middle and upper class kids are raised the same way, and WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A WORD FOR SERIAL KILLER because we don’t have the same problem U.S. does with serial killers.

        I think people need to start giving evidence of their supposed “facts” about being raised by parents vs. caretakers.

        • Rachel D.
          Rachel D. says:

          I’m glad you were better off without your parents raising you. Your parents knew their limits.

          Other countries don’t need serial killers because their general population has it covered already. In other countries, abusing, beating, mutilating, stoning and killing are socially acceptable norms. Abuse, in every sense of the word, is passed down through generations. They just don’t use the words “serial killing”.

          So don’t compare other countries to America. You won’t win that argument.

          • Ma Eugenia
            Ma Eugenia says:

            @ Rachel –
            Are you familiar with any country in Latin America? Where do you get that “beating, mutilating, stoning and killing are socially acceptable norms” here?
            As Chris said, most of our middle class families raised their children with help. And we love our parents, have close-knit families, and no, there is not a word in Spanish or Portuguese language for serial killer.

            It’s sad that your mom didn’t love you.

          • Rachel D.
            Rachel D. says:

            @Ma Eugenia
            Your comment made me smile. I do know a lot about Latin America. My generalizations are based on a world view, not specific to Latin America, although these atrocities do exist everywhere. No country is perfect, including America.

            If what I’m saying doesn’t ring true for you, then you have no reason to be offended, so don’t take it personally.

            On the other hand, perhaps my comments struck a chord with @Chris M. I don’t know. I didn’t live his life.

            Whatever problems my mother had left some emotional scars. I just feel that people take having children very lightly, when in fact, it’s the most important decision of them all. If you don’t want to be a real parent, then don’t have children.

          • Ma Eugenia
            Ma Eugenia says:

            @ Rachel – if you are familiar with Latin American culture, you would know that it’s very common been raised with nannies and other house help. That’s the way you ‘parent’ there, yet you do not see “un-feeling serial killers” everywhere.
            I don’t think the issue is being raised by parents vs. caretakers. It’s been loved by your parents or not.
            It’s very sad that your mom didn’t demostrate her love for you. And I’m sorry that still cause you so much pain, after all these years. Hope you can heal that wound.

          • Rachel D.
            Rachel D. says:

            @Ma Eugenia Out of respect, I won’t go into detail about the issues that pervade Latin communities. I will only say that they are the same as everywhere else in the world. The only difference is every culture has its way of dealing with issues and dealing with people. Every culture hides things to facilitate living in denial and giving good appearances. We are all human.

            I hear the strong sense of family and community in your comments and I do appreciate that. I’m not trying to make you feel bad about how you’ve raised your family.

            My only point is, if I were to have a child today, my child would deserve my protection, my care, and my love. That is truly the best care in my eyes. Perhaps your sense of “status” played a role in your decisions as well, not just your culture. I’m hoping future generations won’t follow the same guidelines. There are certain things that money cannot buy.

          • Ma Eugenia
            Ma Eugenia says:

            @ Rachel – my intention is to highlight the absurdity of claiming children raised with help become un-feeling serial killers.
            The facts do not support that claim.

            And no offense taken for your statement that “mutilating, stoning and killing are socially acceptable norms” in our cultures.
            You validated your true colors when you added “So don’t compare other countries to America. You won’t win that argument.”
            Again, it’s sad you were neglected as a child.

          • Rachel D.
            Rachel D. says:

            @Ma Eugenia I did not bring up America or how Latin Americans raise their children. Someone else did, and you chose to run with that comparison. You chose to take offense. You’ve chosen to focus on the words “serial killers”.

            I have no clue how you raised your children, but you’ve made your choices there as well. You’ve shown your true colors.

  6. Melrose
    Melrose says:

    I believe that a person has the right to choose and make her own decision. We are already in a modern era and gender biases and stereotypes are still present. Whether a woman decides to focus on her career or stay at home with her kids, her choice won’t make her less of a woman. It is just a matter of choice and a matter of what makes her happy. I salute those women who find contentment with what they are doing, be it a full-time mom or a CEO of a big company.

  7. Kathy Bell
    Kathy Bell says:

    Women having babies and going to right after the birth is not new. Leaving children in the care of another is not new.

    Farming families lived in a community. The children were left in the care of the person who enjoyed the domestic life while the rest of the able bodied people went to the fields.

    I laugh at these articles by “Social Scientists” that choose to ignore data that does not support their baised opinion.

    The Thesis of this article is most women want to stay home with their children. History proves this thesis very wrong. The feminist movement had nothing to do with maternal instincts, it had to do with the rights of women to make their own choices and to declare women are not property.

  8. Babs Carryer
    Babs Carryer says:

    I think we might miss the point that women still struggle to get to the top (in general), even in startups and tech companies. Men hide behind the “she might get” or “she is” pregnant. It’s not for us to judge her homemaking skills, or her juggling act to do the two, but to applaud that she has a new, high-profile position. Women rock and I am glad that she is proving a model of hard work, balancing act, and (hopefully) success!

  9. Businessman Walks
    Businessman Walks says:

    Staying home and taking care of kids is a hard career in itself and deserves equal value recognition to entering the workforce, including pay and tax benefits.

    Otherwise our kids become defacto residents of the corporate orphanage.

  10. Mrs. Jen B
    Mrs. Jen B says:

    I don’t have anything clever or deep to say – only that it never ceases to amaze me more people treating having and raising children as secondary nowadays. Why can’t our children have it all – parents who work hard to support them, instead of solely to advance their own careers – and who also are around to teach them simple lessons in compassion, respect of self and others, and so many other lessons which seem to be falling by the wayside anymore.

  11. Becky Rice
    Becky Rice says:

    It’s very easy to take only two weeks off for maternity leave when you have the money for a gaggle of nannies/housekeepers to keep life moving. What I’d really like the media to focus on is that she got the job based on her professional merits, business acumen, leadership skills and performance record. And not IN SPITE OF being pregnant.

  12. drippinginsarcasmtoday
    drippinginsarcasmtoday says:

    I like this blog post better if I believe it’s satire, so I’m going to decide that it is.

    1) Marrying rich — really only likely if you’re already in a high socioeconomic bracket. (Historically, this also means you’re probably white.) Also might be even trickier if you live in a city where there are loads of hot women. NOTE TO SELF: Reread Penelope’s posts on working out & botox.

    2) Get a PhD — with all that you’ve said about student loans, I wouldn’t even advise a uber wealthy person to bother with this. Better to read a lot of stuff (to stay interesting) & hit the gym so you can keep up with your kids. NOTE TO SELF: Reread Penelope’s posts on working out & botox.

    3) Have kids at 25 — you’re probably advising those who marry rich to do this. See point #1.

    4) Quit & Stay — Are people still able to do this in this economy? Corporate life seems like such a Ponzi scheme sometimes. The bill of goods Gen Xers were sold: Work 70+ hour workweeks in your 20’s & get a bunch of degrees. Freak out and try to pull off marriage & childhood in your 30’s. By the time you’re entering your 40’s, a cyclical bad economy presents itself to deliver downsizing. That’s about the time you might have a mortgage, 2.5 kids, the dog, & 15 extra lbs. on. (And that’s if you pulled it all off.) NOTE TO SELF: Reread Penelope’s posts on working out & botox.

  13. drippinginsarcasmtoday
    drippinginsarcasmtoday says:

    I’m going to have to believe this post is satire to like it.

    1) Marry rich — hmmh, seems easier to do if you already are rich (and this historically means you are white) Also this is more difficult if you live in a city with a large population of hot women.

    2) Get PhD — hmmh, I thought you told me student debt was a trap. But you also said “marry rich.” I could just run a marathon. I’ll stay fit for the kids & my rich husband and that will give me a more “affordable” goal to achieve.

    3) Have kids at 25 — Again, problematic if you marry poor (did I write that?) or don’t marry.

    4) Quit & Stay — Does this happen in this economy anymore?
    Here’s the bill of goods sold to Gen X women when it comes to corporate life:
    20’s career, career, big degrees
    30s freak out, get married, have babies
    40’s oh no, you didn’t tell me about cyclical bad economies that bring layoffs — but now I have 2.5 kids, dog, white picket fence, second husband, & 15 extra lbs. on.

  14. GenerationXpert
    GenerationXpert says:

    When I had my first baby in 2001, I switched jobs at the college I worked at and went part time. Best decision ever. I worked 20 hours for five years. I plateaued for a bit.

    In 2007, I got a great job heading the marketing of an international trade association. I telecommute and it’s great. My kids don’t have to go to daycare when they’re off school (oh, we also decided to live in smallish town where there is little crime and the kids can be free range, so they basically ride bikes and play outside with the friends all summer).

    I’ve always chosen my kids over my work, and it still all came together.

  15. Robyn
    Robyn says:

    She is going to have a rude awakening once she has her baby. 2 weeks is absurd.

    It really angers me that this is what the media focuses on, they should be focusing on the millions of women fighting for a real maternity leave and real support in raising their children. Women like this hurt all the women who wish to spend time with thier children.

    • Louisa
      Louisa says:

      Marissa Mayer never said two weeks but “a fews weeks”. Penelope imagined it or she is intellectually dishonest.

  16. Linda
    Linda says:

    We don’t all want to have children. I wish more examinations of this area recognized that fact.

    Despite being child-free by choice, that doesn’t mean I want to spend all my time at work. I have a lot of other outside interests, friends, volunteer activities, etc. that I want in my life besides work.

    Frankly I wish more people made the choice to be child-free. We have way too many people on this planet.

    • Belle
      Belle says:

      I totally agree, Linda. In Marissa Mayer’s case, I think she should’ve chosen NOT to be a mother if she wanted to be a great CEO. Unfortunately, I don’t think she made a very responsible choice.

  17. Belle
    Belle says:

    I think Marissa Mayer knows she can’t be both the best mother she can be and the best CEO that she can be, and it’s clear she has already made a choice – she’d rather be a better CEO.

    As someone who works in the childbirth/postpartum profession, I have to disagree with some of the people posting who claim that these modern times means that paternal care = maternal care, and that the child is getting equally good parenting and nurturing if there’s a willing stay-at-home dad to do the job. Sure, that can be true for when the kids are OVER two years old. But between birth and until a child is at least 1 year old is when they NEED their mothers. They need their mothers to provide breast milk to give them proper antibodies, to help them from developing environmental allergies, to give their bodies proper nutrients not found in formula. They need to be held, to have skin-to-skin contact with their mothers, to have their needs met immediately. Otherwise, what happens? An infant feels abandoned. An infant does not grow optimally and get set up for later health and emotional problems. It all starts from the earliest impressions. You can give that child a fake substitute like a bottle or a pacifier, but it sure isn’t the real thing and they know it. You can debate all you want about a mother’s choice to mother in the way she wants, but science shows that there ARE better ways to mother than others, and that’s undeniable.

    There is no way Marissa Mayer can work 60-120 hours a week and still expect to have a normal milk flow or to provide her baby with any sort of physical affection on a regular basis. Cutting her baby off after two weeks? That’s not even enough time for her to establish a comfortable rapport with her child. So it is clear to me that she has already chosen to be a mediocre mom as a trade-off for being an awesome CEO.

    • victoria
      victoria says:

      That’s a really interesting and provocative statement if true — that infants feel abandoned if not in the care of their biological mothers. That would change my thinking on the matter; I’ve been under the impression that the scientific consensus is more on the Penelope Leach side (that infants do need a consistent and loving caregiver who will respond to their cues in a nurturing matter, but the identity of that caregiver is less important).

      • redrock
        redrock says:

        if it only were so easy… kids who bonded and attached to their mothers in the first two years, were breastfed and never left their mums side can still grow up to be crappy adults. On the other hand, kids who were adopted can grow up to be great people. I am sure that Marissa Mayer would encounter the wrath of some women group no matter what she does:
        scenario (1): CEO and kid and long maternity leave – how can she take all the money and then go on leave for so long? She will loose touch with her job and not be able to do it any more.
        scenario (2): CEO and kid and short maternity leave planned: she is a bad mother.
        scenario (3): gives up her job to stay at home for the next 5 years: great mum, we all have to live through our kids so they can grow up to become great CEOs. Why did she even work so hard to become CEO if all she wanted to be is a mum? Apparently she did not really want to be CEO.
        scenario (4) does not have kids and lives for being CEO: how can she throw away all her maternal instincts and not have kids, isn’t this the purpose of a woman’s life?

        No matter what she does, it will be wrong in the eye of some group or other. Why not admire her tenacity, intelligence and grit and see how things turn out for her? Maybe she and her husband and kid(s) will live a great life, and she finds a way to be happy and have happy kids? Maybe she will adapt her work schedule, or her husband will take care of the kids… or something else.

    • Rachel D.
      Rachel D. says:


      Everything you said is all true. As a child I felt awful and confused by a mom who didn’t want her. I’m surprised more people won’t admit feeling this way because their parents chose to do other things besides loving their kids.

      My mom chose the wrong role….to be a mother. Living her lie made her sick. She was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers and lived that way for 15 years before she died at 62.

      My mom was always looking for a way out….and she got it in the most tragic way.

  18. Dana
    Dana says:

    I’m a #4 and reading your blog at work.

    I agree I would put them in the exact order you did, (best case to worst case.) Marry money! It’s just as easy to love a rich man as a poor man and ultimately all husbands become annoying (as do wives).

    And pioneerwomen is a great example of #1.

  19. Help4NewMoms
    Help4NewMoms says:

    I am with you on this, Penelope…it IS boring. The problem is…why does a woman have to choose between motherhood and this kind of successful career. Men do not have to choose. It is frustrating. The simple answer is that a woman could choose NOT to have children. But, how is that fair? A man can have both. As well, once a woman chooses to stay home she had better pray that the marriage works out because if she gives up years of earning potential and experience and the guy leaves her, she will be left with the memories of the closeness she was able to develop with her children…and sadly, you can eat that and it won’t help you buy a new home. As well, part time work, it seems to me, is good for everyone EXCEPT to the woman…the woman has the job responsibility and the home responsibility yet work will not take her seriously or move her ahead because she doesn’t put in the time, her neighbors keep bugging her because she doesn’t have a full-time job, and there is no travel for an occasional escape…so unfair. I believe we need to come up with more of your “new” solutions for moms….you have made a good start!

  20. Naima van Swol
    Naima van Swol says:

    Feminism made this possible for her. Its awesome and it makes me proud to be woman. And Penelope, aren’t you the one who said staying at home with kids is rewarding but not really that interesting? Maybe we can’t have it all, but I don’t think we should just stop trying and marry rich.

    • Rachel D.
      Rachel D. says:

      Just don’t have kids. Feminism isn’t about having kids and then abandoning them to work. Feminism should be about being excellent at whatever role you choose, either motherhood or your career. Just pick one.

      The reason why men are more successful in the workplace throughout history is because they focus on one thing….their career. The only thing feminism has done is try to make average standards acceptable so that women can have kids and work. Moms always want that extra break at work, and the excuse is their kids. Men don’t do that. They work and family is pushed to the wayside.

  21. priest's wife (@byzcathwife)
    priest's wife (@byzcathwife) says:

    GK Chesterton said it best- “How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe?
    [GKC, What’s Wrong With the World CW4:118-9]

  22. Rachel D.
    Rachel D. says:

    Sorry Penelope. I’m usually ok except when it comes to this topic. I want to scream at my mother right now.

    I view women who have children that they don’t want to nurture and parent as very weak individuals.

    Being CEO is far more easier than being a parent, and this Ms. Myers is taking the easy way out. She’s weak.

    Moms who are real moms are the true role models and heroines of society, not the CEO weaklings with nannies.

  23. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    Having tried, concurrently, to raise children, complete a degree, thrive in a demanding career, and be meaningfully involved in my community (not just attend fundraisers), I can testify that I could not have it all at the same time. I tried, but, in the end, I wish I had scaled back my career and dedicated more time to my family, even if completely staying home was not an option. But this was my choice.

    I wish we would learn to respect the seasons in our lives: the freedom of young adulthood, the establishment of a career, the growth of a family, the emptying of the nest (but not the spirit), and the “second wind” of creativity that follows the nest emptying.

    However, I’m glad this generation is reaping the benefits of the battles the previous generation waged.

  24. help4newmoms
    help4newmoms says:

    Penelope – To all the commenters suggesting that “in the interest of the children” Ms Mayer should not choose a career over motherhood, shouldn’t we be applauding her decision to actually HAVE the baby “in the children’s best interests.”

  25. Mike Nolan
    Mike Nolan says:

    Done and done.

    Jules stayed home with the kids – and was able to work from home part time. We started having kids at 24, and when they were finishing up High School she began here Doctoral degree.

    4 years later she’s published, travels internationally to present and research, and is beginning her first full time job in 25 years – just as we become empty-nesters.

    We raised healthy, happy, confident kids – started and sold a few companies, and are celebrating our 25th anniversary.

    You are spot on on this post – we need to celebrate women like my wife who commit to raising kids, and put their career on hold.

    I once bought a company where the female executive bragged that she was back to work two days after having her child. That kind of ethic might fit into some work places, but sure didn’t in my company.

  26. MD
    MD says:

    To summarize this post and many comments: Mayer will be a terrible mother. We know this because she is Yahoo’s CEO. No other knowledge about her is necessary. Her kid is doomed, and Mayer herself will die alone and in despair (despite her $300 million net worth.)

  27. mysticaltyger
    mysticaltyger says:

    I have to agree with you, Pen, that this woman is nuts for having a high powered executive job and a baby at the same time. Unless her husband is going to stay home with the baby (somehow I doubt that), the child is going to be neglected. Paying someone else to raise your kids is just not a healthy thing for them.

    • Rachel C
      Rachel C says:

      How do you know it’s not healthy? For millennia, children have spent much of their day being looked after by people who were not their mother.

  28. Dan
    Dan says:

    This was an affirmative action hire. I give her one year at most, it will take a while before Yahoo realizes they made another big mistake. No offense, the first one being posting your articles for money on their otherwise excellent finance website.

    By the way, do you ever write articles that would modestly interest men? It seems to me ignoring 50% of the market is not a wise business decision.

  29. MommyPage
    MommyPage says:

    That is great news that a woman is the CEO of Yahoo! Women can definitely have it all. I’m glad that you wrote about Marissa Mayer!

  30. Therese
    Therese says:

    Both the media and Ms. Trunk have this one wrong. Nothing infuriates me more than when privileged women try to tell ALL women how to live; when they should marry, work, have kids, etc. Want to have kids and have a start-up? Just marry well. Gee, why didn’t I think of that. It’s a very Romney-esque response to people’s career problems: “Just borrow $10,000 from your parents and start a business.” Yeah, but what if Mommy & Daddy are just as broke as you and you are not the kind of women who has access to that dating pool, so marrying rich isn’t even an option? That’s is the stupidest advice I have ever heard.

    Do I believe that we should celebrate this CEO as a role model? No, because then the expectation of working mothers will be ramped up to even MORE unrealistic expectations. Now you’ll have to be back in your old clothes AND back at your desk the Monday after you give birth. But I cannot agree with the have kids young, marry rich plan either. What if you’re still in school? What if you haven’t met the right person? And here’s an even more radical idea: What if marriage and children is something you are not interested in anyway? Doesn’t all this bullshit just reduce women to a walking uterus?

    These situations are so subjective and most people’s life circumstances differ so much that the advice given by all parties is not only inappropriate but just plain smug and insulting.

  31. Danny K
    Danny K says:

    There is a huge opportunity cost to society for women in the workplace. Having kids, taking care of them, socializing and civilizing them is a full time job for years. Marrying later, having fewer kids, and spending less time with them is diminishing our civilization.

    I can’t prove it. There are not now, and will never be, any studies to back me up. But I’m right.

  32. Caitlin
    Caitlin says:

    Marissa Mayer is not illustrative of anything for most women, nor is she a role model. Nor should she be expected to be. No one goes around worrying about whether Donald Trump is a role model for men.

    She already has $300m and she will make millions more from Yahoo! She can afford a lot of help with the baby. She’ll probably have a nursery with a nanny in the office next door to her. None of this applies to most women.

    Let’s let the lady have her baby in peace and not pretend that her situation is somehow applicable to the rest of us. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing, Penelope, but the media in general.

  33. Ryan
    Ryan says:

    What about the dad? Maybe he’ll stay home with the kid(s) while Meyer brings home the bacon. How do you know the child will just be raised by nannies?

    • Louisa
      Louisa says:

      You are right Ryan. Thank you for your comment. It seems that the Father figure is the Higgs Boson of this issue. We need more men like you to speak up.

      As the philosopher Alain De Botton says : “Perhaps the most unambiguous victory of feminism has been to ensure that fathers properly nurture their children.”

    • channa
      channa says:

      Thank you! It is such evidence of people’s sexism that they assume if mom isn’t caring for the child full-time then a nanny must be doing it. Besides the dad, it could be one of the grandmas or an auntie. Both my mother and my mother-in-law would gladly leave their jobs to care for our children if we needed it and replaced their income. Mothers are so isolated these days.

  34. Bethany
    Bethany says:

    To me, the most important thing that is overwhelmingly (though not entirely) missing from this conversation is the *value* of a newborn life. These “I’m sure the kid will be fine” comments actually hurt somewhere deep inside me.

    These tiny, thoroughly helpless, stunningly mysterious little beings brought into this enormous world are fascinating and worth the shocking amount of effort they demand. Nothing is more wearing and taxing than nurturing a new life. And it is a gift to do it–whether you deliver your child, adopt, or have the immensely rare quality that enables you to nurture a child not your own through fostering.

    Working is a necessity for most. And for many a joy as well. That is not my issue. My issue is the tone toward innocent, precious life. This child, and every child, deserves and yearns to be cared for tenderly by his or her parents.

  35. Kathryn Sollmann
    Kathryn Sollmann says:

    My concern is not whether women take a two-week maternity leave…it’s when women opt to leave the workforce entirely. That is definitely a personal choice, but I worry about the role models women are then for their children–especially boys.

  36. Chimera
    Chimera says:

    I think every woman or man has a right to choice. More than 40 years, I think for 4000 years, women have been doing the child rearing and there is nothing new to be said there. I think since the early civilizations there have been very few women in powerful positions – Queen Nefertiti or Cleopatra to note in history. The other innumerable ones have done nothing but child-rearing. I think it is important to have people like Marrissa who show that it is possible to break the glass ceiling. Yes, many women would prefer to be with their kids but it is also a matter of choice. I know of friends who spend quality time with their kids and are happy with it. Ultimately it is not what you or I say in our blogs but what works for each individual. And kudos to women who can share the powerful space that men have too long held on to.

  37. Whitney
    Whitney says:

    For women to have a choice to stay home they must have resources to do so. Not all women have the choice due to needed income or lack of support from a spouse. A woman cannot always count on a man to be there to support her monitarily or emotionally. Sometimes men leave and moms have to go out and work to support their children. Moms that start having babies early without having work experience, leave themselves vulnerable. What if a husband dies and the mom has no work experience? The outcome maybe a minimum wage job that cannot support the family. I admire women that choose to stay home and I admire women that choose to work. I admire women that love their children. I just think a woman is gambling if she doesn’t have a skill to fall back on if something should happen.

  38. Ignacio Roda
    Ignacio Roda says:

    I know some cases of women that start being entrepreneurs when they have kids, since they have more difficulties to find a job, they decide to start their own business.

  39. virginia
    virginia says:

    Holy cow there are a lot of comments on this post!

    I just wanted to say these are pretty creative ideas. Numbers 2 and 4 made me lol but the are true!

  40. Mindy
    Mindy says:

    For the love of God please stop saying how hard it is to be a stay at home mom then going on to mention pay scales and titles. YOU made a decision to have children and stay home and show them what you think is leading a fulfilling life. A working mom does the same and has many other outside demands and juggles them while taking care of her family. If you want a payscale and a title go out and get a job! Instead of writing you little blog with all your free time. Where are your kids while you are online ripping another woman apart? Who’s to say that yahoo’s CEO isn’t trying to show a male runned workforce that a woman can focus on work while pregnant. I was laid off and HAD to work while my hubby went to school and nobody would give me a chance until I got a female employer who paid me fairly and gave paid me time off when I didn’t have any. I went to work earlier than planned to show her I was appreciative. My grandma from whose generation I think you are from gave me all kids of slack about it so I will say the same thing I said to her…come pay my bill b*tch! No, no takers? Then shut up!

  41. Suzanne
    Suzanne says:

    I’m tired of hearing about women and work and choices. For many of us, the only choice is between continuing working when we have kids or living in poverty. I know so few women who are working for any other reason than to support the family.

    The norm, I think is a former co-worker who figured out that after taxes, childcare, what she was being charged for insurance, and vehicle maintenance and gas, she was making about $40 a week at her job. So, her choices are not even remotely the same as the CEO of Yahoo.

    I worked a temp job for a while that would not have even allowed two weeks of materinty leave. We got 7 days per year to be sick, deal with family deaths, etc. One woman got written up for missing half a day for visiting the doctor because she was miscarrying. This is the reality of the workplace for many working women.

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