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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s 2-week maternity leave fails women everywhere

This is a disappointment and lacks strong leadership on an important issue.


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Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 3, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 1:08 am CDT


Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is pregnant again—with twins. And as she did during her previous pregnancy, she’ll take just two weeks of maternity leave. I understand that she can make her own choices, she has her own priorities, and she has the responsibility of running a multi-billion dollar company. But her decision just frustrates me.

The first time, fine. Mayer was a newly minted CEO. She had something to prove and a group of stakeholders expecting her to turn around a troubled company.

But girl, Marissa: You’ve made it. You ain’t got shit to prove anymore. You’ve been in Vogue. Wired believes you are the right CEO for YahooFast Company gives you credit for turning Yahoo into a mobile-first company. You’re good. Take a break. For all of us.

By taking a short, two-week maternity leave, you are setting the worst kind of example. Many of the women in this country who take two weeks off to have a baby are those women who can not afford to take more time—and we see that as a great tragedy. By taking just two weeks off, you’re setting us back. You’re creating the expectation that maternity leave is a fallacy, something we don’t need to offer all mothers in the U.S.

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Taking a two-week maternity leave is bad leadership. It’s an amped up version of judging employees who leave before 8pm, expect holidays off and don’t respond to your emails at 3am.

By taking a short, two-week maternity leave, you are setting the worst kind of example.

Show true leadership by taking the same leave you offer your employees—be it eight for fathers or sixteen for mothers. Show true leadership by sharing how strong childcare systems help families succeed. Show true leadership by showing that things don’t fall apart at work when a parent takes time to be with their children.

I imagine Mayer loves what she does, and I ultimately I have to respect her choices. But I think she’s being myopic. She’s glamorizing a post-natal recovery time that creates huge burdens for working families.

To Marissa Mayer: Do what you need to do—but think about the message you are sending.

This article was originally featured Medium and reposted with permission.

Alex Nicholson is the director of social media at Pegasystems and has previously worked for National Geographic and USA Today.

Photo via Fortune Live Media/Flickr (CC BY ND 2.0)

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*First Published: Sep 3, 2015, 2:51 pm CDT