It didn’t take long for the “celebration” of Marissa Mayer’s new job as CEO of Yahoo to dim, replaced by news of her pregnancy and subsequent debate about her plans to take a "few weeks off and work through her maternity leave".
Women circled: “take a real maternity leave”, “the thing every child wants most (is) their mother’s attention and unfortunately her son will have very little of it”.
One columnist, in particular, chided Mayer to take 12 weeks off so she could serve as a role model for other women. Who’s to say Mayer is not a role model? For some women, she maybe just who they are looking to emulate.
There are others who support Mayer’s decision but why must we still criticize the decisions women make when it comes to work and family? For some reason it’s still considered fair game. I can think of no other personal decision we make in our lives that receives this much scrutiny and criticism.
While women like Mayer have very public jobs, at the end of the work day, it’s personal. A personal choice that we should respect whether a woman stays home to raise her family, works part time, or chooses to return to work after 12 weeks or 12 days of maternity leave.
Let's not forget about the significant number of women for whom that choice is a luxury. Working is not about paying for a Disney vacation, college or even career fulfillment. It’s about a roof, food and clothes.
And that’s where women like Marissa Mayer can be very instrumental. The best way to affect change for parents in the workplace is to have people like Mayer in leadership positions who know firsthand how important it is to have the support of an employer. She is one of an all too few women running Fortune 500 companies.
I am not trying to minimize the difficulties of balancing work and family. I've been there and doing it now for 20 plus years. And while, in that time, the choices for working parents have improved our nagging criticism of women who make choices different from those that we might, continues. Enough.
Ginny Ryan, Anchor