This week Marissa Mayer announced that she is pregnant with twins and will again be taking a paltry two week leave after their birth. In her Tumblr announcement Mayer said that because her pregnancy was “normal” with few predicted complications, and Yahoo was at a “unique” point, she felt that a working leave was the best choice for her.
Over on LinkedIn, Jessica questions Mayer’s decision to announce detailed plans for her pregnancy, as though she had to justify being a human being having a baby. Why take such a short leave if not to demonstrate her capability to other (male) managers and leaders? What message does her pregnancy announcement send to other women in the industry? That parenthood and womanhood must be justified.
At Red Branch Media, Maren Hogan offers some much needed context: parental leave is a political and corporate battleground across the US. Tech companies looking to entice the best candidates are offering more and more paid leave, while some states are making things worse and worse for poor, working mothers. Meanwhile, activists are pushing for state-funded leave and for leaders like Mayer to stop cutting short their maternity leave, modelling the same behaviour from employees.
At the Daily Beast, Samantha Allen reminds us that Mayer’s past statements on and managerial position on maternity leave don’t paint a pretty picture: while expanding Yahoo’s maternity leave she eliminated flex-time and telecommuting, and then built herself an in-office nursery. And as Jessica pointed out in her piece, Mayer has a team of child care workers, while so many working parents struggle to afford day care. Allen says, “Is Mayer perpetuating the pressure that women in the tech industry already feel to put motherhood on the backburner, or is she herself subject to that pressure? The most realistic—but least satisfying—answer is probably both.”
At LinkedIn’s Pulse, Caroline Fairchild says that Marissa Mayer is a role model for young women whether she likes it or not. With so few women occupying the C-suite at major companies, every one of them that does is under constant scrutiny. That’s not fair. But it’s the reality. It’s also the reality that the CEO’s actions have a huge effect on company culture and expanding official maternity leave while only taking two weeks (because her pregnancy is normal and work needs her), makes it clear that a successful working mother in tech is one who least allows her children to disrupt her workflow. Get back at, girls!
We’ve talked about the importance of paternal leave here on Blogging4Jobs over and over and over. Leave is an evergreen blog topic; it seems like it’s always in the news. But it’s always in the news because of America’s almost unique stance on paid parental leave: not offering at all; or offering as little as possible.
This Buzzfeed video from 2014 is still on point:
Marrisa Mayer aside, it’s time to get serious about parental leave in the U.S.