It was at first a surprise to me to see this headline: “New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is pregnant”. Was this really newsworthy? But it became clear very quickly that the story was significant, if only for the fact that it reveals some of the challenges still faced by women in the workplace.
As reported by Fortune, Ms. Mayer has known of her pregnancy since January when she was still with Google, got the initial call from Yahoo in mid-June and disclosed her pregnancy in late June:
Mayer first disclosed to the Yahoo board that she is pregnant in late June, in a meeting with Michael Wolf, a member of the board’s four-person CEO search committee. A meeting with the search committee followed, and then Mayer met with the full board last Wednesday. None of the Yahoo directors, she says, revealed any concern about hiring a pregnant chief executive. “They showed their evolved thinking,” says Mayer, who got the phone call last Thursday that she was the board’s choice to be CEO.
Looking at the number of news articles and commentaries that have been published online today alone on this very topic is astonishing. It has sparked surprise and discussions about what a forward step this is, as Ms. Mayer may be the first pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 tech company. Not surprisingly, it has raised the question once more of what it means for women to have both a career and a family in the 21st century.
It may not come as surprise then that Ms. Mayer will take but a few weeks off as maternity leave, with the intention of working throughout them.