Is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer setting a terrible example by not planning to take all the maternity leave her employer allows or is she simply doing what she feels is right for her? The question has been widely, and often hotly, debated by women since Mayer announced she is expecting twins.
On LinkedIn, Caroline Fairchild is unhappy with Mayer’s decision to take only a two-week maternity leave, arguing that it sets a bad precedent. “Mayer’s failure to acknowledge that such a short maternity leave is uncommon for working women is where I think she went wrong,” she writes. “This sends a signal to her colleagues as well as expecting moms everywhere that if you also have a “healthy and uncomplicated” pregnancy, two weeks away is just fine. It also sends a signal to young female professionals that if you want to take more than two weeks off when you have a kid, perhaps the C-Suite isn’t for you.”
Similarly, Joanna Venditti of BabyCenter.com asks, “Although Mayer recently extended maternity and paternity leave for the employees of Yahoo, what message is Mayer sending to her employees by not taking the allotted time off herself?”
Writes Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, for Time, “Yahoo gives 16 weeks paid to biological mothers, eight to fathers and adoptive or foster parents. How many in senior positions will feel comfortable taking the full time if the top company mom takes so little? There’s a real danger that those who take the leave allowed on paper will be looked at as less committed and dedicated — and less competent at time management.”
“Back off” CNN.com’s Mel Robbins tells Mayer’s critics. “I can’t slam her decision, however it ends up. As far as I’m concerned, the length of your maternity and paternity leave are deeply personal choices. Mayer’s not sending a message, she’s just living her life—in her case one that includes having twins and running a Fortune 500 company. If you want to take a message from her example, there is more than one: You can be dedicated to work and family, and you should do what’s right for you.”
And when a male CEOs takes leave when his children are born, why isn’t that announced and publicly discussed as Mayer’s pregnancy has been, Karlin Lillington asks in The Irish Times. “Clearly, we have a too often discreetly hidden governance issue that raises important questions about how people will effectively run companies–companies that are major employers, have armies of expectant shareholders, and a significant place in the global economy,” she writes. “I speak of none other than the—let’s be honest, shocking—fact that the public, as well as shareholders and investors, are routinely left without any knowledge of the impending fatherhood of the men running these tech goliaths.”
Is Marissa Mayer doing other women a disservice or is setting a positive example by doing what she thinks is best? Share your opinions on GlassCeiling.com.