By Erin Fuller
So, I think the decision to put the brilliant engineer Marissa Mayer at the helm of Yahoo! was an incredibly savvy move. I've met Marissa briefly, heard her speak and of course, use many of her innovations on a daily basis as I get directions to somewhere on Google maps. Obviously, we all know there are far too few women at the helm of companies, technology companies in particular, so this is a Big Deal and Something to be Celebrated.
And then I read this stupid article in the WSJ. I don't know why I'm surprised or disappointed, but really? "How will she juggle being pregnant and the CEO?" in the lede? Come. On.
I did a quick Google (thanks Marissa!) search for "CEOs chronic disease." Came up with a few. Searched for other key terms, such as "diabetes" and "cancer." Came up with a few more. The average corporate CEO in the US is white, male and 55. I am going to guess that issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, prostate cancer and a whole host of other ills are plaguing that elite group at a statistically relevant rate. However, it is hard to find a mention of these chronic, life-threatening issues in any mainstream press.
Here is the deal: pregnancy isn't a disease. And even if you want to think of it that way, it tends to last no more than nine months and is cured by having a baby. And although I am not one of those women who particularly enjoyed being pregnant (outside of the consumption of ridiculous amounts of baked goods during the holidays), I, like any number of women I know, worked, and traveled, and led, and made decisions. I tried to avoid lifting really heavy stuff and I had to lay off my high heels for the last two months, but otherwise, I functioned pretty well. In fact, I've seen many, many pregnant colleagues and friends work throughout their pregnancies, and do it beautifully.
I love that Yahoo! seems to get this and hired Mayer in her current "delicate" condition. And if the Journal wants to report on that, fine – but I now expect that they will ask every new male CEO if he is expecting a child in his family, and how juggling the needs of a growing family will interfere with and impact his ability to lead effectively. Until that happens, we need to call BS on stuff like this.