By Connie Schultz

Judge Marissa Mayer By Her Job, Not Her Gender

February 28, 2013 12:33 pm Category: Memo Pad 6 Comments A+ / A-
Judge Marissa Mayer By Her Job, Not Her Gender

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is abolishing the company’s work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to show up at the office.

Her decision has sparked intense and often nasty debate, with Mayer usually landing on the losing end. Many women, in particular, sound betrayed after daring to expect more from such a high-profile female boss. How could she?

I understand the special brand of heartbreak brought on by women who end up acting like the male jerks they replaced. Dashed hopes sure pack a wallop. However, I don’t feel this way about Mayer. This is no surprise coming from Mayer. It is an issue of arrogance, not gender, forged through the myopia of privilege.

Last July, I wrote a column about Mayer after she was hired at Yahoo. Initially, I was so excited to see this young, talented — and pregnant! — woman become the new face of a Fortune 500 company. Then I found this online clip of an interview with her for Makers, a series sponsored by PBS and AOL:

I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. … I certainly believe in equal rights. I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so, in a lot of different dimensions. But I don’t … have sort of the militant drive and … the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think ‘feminism’ has become, in many ways, a more negative word. … There are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there’s more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy.

Coincidentally, this same interview showed up again just this week in the outstanding PBS show titled Makers: Women Who Make America. The show was a feast of interviews with the grand dames of the feminist movement, and it aired just days after the Yahoo announcement. In this context, Mayer’s comments, toward the end of the show, felt like the ultimate smackdown: My success has nothing to do with you broads, OK?

So I’m not surprised that Mayer feels no obligation to look out for the working mothers at her company. I say this as a driven but nonmilitant feminist with no chip on her shoulder, unless you count that annoying bump that shows up when my bra strap is too tight.

Yes, Mayer is a woman, but her decision to change Yahoo’s policy of flexible work schedules affects men and women almost equally. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nearly as many men as women work at home. The Families and Work Institute, a nonprofit group that tracks the changing workforce, fleshes out more of the story behind the flextime statistics.

More men — 45 percent — report work-life conflict than women, at 35 percent. The institute also reports that when employees have “a high degree of work-life fit,” almost two times as many want to stay in their current jobs; four times as many are “highly engaged at work,” and two times as many are “in excellent health.”

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Judge Marissa Mayer By Her Job, Not Her Gender Reviewed by on . Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is abolishing the company's work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to show up at the office. Her decision has sparked intense and oft Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is abolishing the company's work-at-home policy and ordering everyone to show up at the office. Her decision has sparked intense and oft Rating:

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Comments

  • Sand_Cat

    Just another arrogant CEO.

  • WhutHeSaid

    Marissa Mayer is just another example of a common phenomenon among some successful people — ungrateful self-importance. Time and time again we see people who exaggerate their own contributions to success while downplaying the hard work and sacrifice that others have endured that make their good fortune possible. Smugly confident that she deserves her position as CEO of a major corporation, she is apparently mostly unappreciative of the fact that being born a mere 25 years earlier would have made all the difference between her current success and finding the door to the executive offices closed to anyone silly enough to be born female.

    This story isn’t about corporate policy, rather, it’s about personal character. It’s bad enough that she appears blind to the hypocrisy of creating policies that are less than friendly to the realities of family responsibilities while enjoying the convenience of a specially-built nursery that no other working parent is allowed, but her public comments show an almost total disregard for the long and hard-fought battles by legions of dedicated men and women who helped to make her success possible.

    It’s an old story. No matter how arduous the battle to remove racial, gender, or any other type of discriminatory obstacle to success, there are always the ungrateful people who lack the character to acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices of those who made their success possible. This was the real issue behind President Obama’s over-hyped comment regarding success that relies partly on the achievements and foresight of others. Most of the people who attacked that comment were merely sordid and despicable bigots who would attack Obama if he were to find a cure for cancer, true, but a good many were successful ingrates who refuse to appreciate how the sacrifices of others helped make their success possible.

    If this story proves anything, it proves that women executives are just as capable of boorish, elitist snobbery as male executives. Yahoo has made any number of questionable decisions that have adversely impacted their success, and Marissa Mayer is just another poor choice among many.

    • latebloomingrandma

      Since everyone now has to come to the office, wonder if she’ll build a first class day care center on site? Fat chance.

    • darkagesbegin

      Sounds like a case of millionaires having one standard for themselves and another for everyone else. They are special and entitled to what they have, but everyone else is just a sponge soaking up benefits to which they aren’t entitled.

  • http://mohammeddressup.com/ I Zheet M’Drawz

    She is making some really good decisions most of all shutting doen all the remote workers (read that off-shored work) & making everyone work in Yahoo offices.

    Off-shoring is the worst thing corporate America can do. By firing American workers & hiring off-shore they are destroying their own customer base!

    I don’t know what MBA program the CxOs of America attened but they seem to be focused on making as much for themselves as they can & the Hell with the company or it’s future.

    Tax the crap out of companies that off-shore work. And end the H1-B visa program, it’s a farce.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/XQSHZLFJ7W4RZVA7KN5TORLMGI Dredycal

    Everyone should object and bring their children to work.

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