Thursday, July 19, 2012

Marissa Ann Mayer is Pregnant - So What?

Marissa Ann Mayer is a brilliant young woman. She has a bachelor’s in Symbolic Systems and a masters in Computer Science from Stanford. She was hired at 24 as the twentieth person and first female engineer at Google. She worked her way up to Vice President.

Yahoo’s Board of Directors announced on Monday that she was hired effective Tuesday as President and CEO of Yahoo.

What a great announcement. Marissa broke the glass ceiling in Silicon Valley.

Then, she announced later on Monday that she was 7 months pregnant with a baby son. That too should be a joyous occasion. However, she set off a firestorm.

America should be celebrating one of the last steps of woman liberation – a pregnant woman becoming CEO of a major corporation. We’re still waiting for a woman President or Vice President.

The question was derisively asked – Can a woman run a company and raise a child at the same time?

We are told that the demands of her newborn will command her time; the lack of sleep will preclude her functioning in her professional activity. Maternal guilt will possess her on the job. The mommy track will derail her career.

A woman is free to choose – to marry or remain single, to have children of her own, to adopt children, or to be childless, to be straight or come out of the closet. She is free to stay at home or to work full time, to work part time, or to volunteer.

A woman can become an airline pilot, biochemist, CPA, doctor, electrician, engineer, minister or rabbi, lawyer, politician, plumber, professor, trucker, producer or director, and even serve as a tour guide on The Jungle Cruise at Disneyland.

She may also choose to stay at home as a housewife.

Those are her decisions.

We are no longer in the 40”s and 50”s. Society is no longer free in this country to tell a woman that her role is to stay at home, making babies and changing diapers.

Many mothers, including professionals, return to work immediately. They may do it with the help of Mister Mom, an au pair, an aunt, or grandparents.

Imagine that, a woman wants to have it all – family and job.

A major part of America’s greatness today is the ability of women to achieve their potential.

They are equal.

It’s her choice.

Her problem is not motherhood, but Yahoo. Maternity should be easy compared to turning around Yahoo. That will be the biggest challenge of her life to date.

Yahoo is a troubled company. It is a search engine and a web directory, but master of neither. It was there before Google, but Google has been eating its lunch. Marissa will be the fifth CEO in five years at Yahoo.

Microsoft offered $44.6 billion, $31/share, for Yahoo in February 2008. Jerry Yang, the founding chairman of Yahoo, turned it down in May. That was a big mistake for Yahoo’s shareholders. It’s half that value today.

Yahoo’ s Board will decide in time if she is up to the job. If not, it’s won’t be because she’s a woman, a pregnant woman, or a young mother.

 If she fails, it’s because Yahoo is an corporate train wreck.

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