Yahoo! made waves this week upon announcing the appointment of former Google exec Marissa Mayer as its latest CEO, with a reported $70 million pay package to boot. Mayer is young at 37 and boasts an impressive resume, but what’s getting the most attention is another factor—her pregnancy.
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Mayer announced she is expecting her first child in October the same day Yahoo! announced her new position with the company. Some say she is making major progress snagging such a high-profile job during her pregnancy, while others say this should be a non-event in 2012.
So what does Mayer’s new post mean for all women in the workforce, and mompreneuers?
“We can’t promote women and disregard the timing of their personal lives, or we will never be able to get women ahead at the top,” Evans said. “Opportunities like this come along when they happen—you cannot time pregnancy or family time. We have to let [women] have their babies when it works out for them.”
The fact that Yahoo! has been embattled as of late and has some turnaround to do makes Mayer’s new gig that much more important for all working moms, Evans said.
“It’s a really big job, but women are wonderful at turnaround,” she said.
Karen Jackson, president of Jackson Solutions LLC and member of the National Association of Women Business Owners said she is torn over the conversation taking place in the media over Mayer’s pregnancy.
“Part of me thinks, ‘I can’t believe we are having this conversation,’ and then part of me thinks, ‘it’s good we are having this conversation,” Jackson said.
As a working mother of two herself, Jackson said she believes many women aren’t making it into the boardroom because they are choosing to have a different level of life balance today than they had in the past.
“She is saying, ‘Look, I can have it both ways,’” Jackson said. “But to counter that, this may not speak to a woman making $35,000 a year at her job. The opportunity here is to put a spotlight on the idea that women can be in top-level roles and still take time to be a parent.”
Evans was hired as president of a small business while she was six months pregnant, so her personal experience taught her that the risk and choice are not only on the part of the company doing the hiring, but also the mom-to-be accepting the position.
“It was kind of crazy that they wanted me for the job, and I knew I was crazy to want it, but it worked out just fine and I was able to handle it,” Evans said.
Small businesses in particular have even more ability than most to best cater to parents-to-be, she said.
“These businesses are all about real people, and can respond to the needs of individuals rather than just relying on policy. They can create customized flex working arrangements and maternity leave arrangements on a one-by-one basis,” Evans said. “That really helps women to take the helm at small businesses.”
Mayer’s appointment is a symbolic one for all women, Evans said.
“The most important thing that women have going for them right now is that we have the opportunity to make choices,” Evans said. “Marissa has made this choice, and that is what it’s all about.”