By Roland S. Martin
Yahoo this week announced that they nabbed top Google exec Marissa Mayer as their new CEO. But it’s not her qualifications for the job that produced all the buzz. Instead, it was her announcement that she was pregnant and will continue to work as CEO.
Social media, radio airwaves and water cooler talk was all about Mayer becoming the first-ever pregnant Fortune 500 CEO. Seriously, America, can we stop this ridiculous double standard that women have to endure when they choose to work and have kids?
Every time a woman is in a position to ascend to the top post, be it politics or business, we immediately began to question her uterus instead of her brain. It goes to show how male-dominated we are in our thinking. We might as well go ahead and say that we prefer men to go to work and women stay at home and raise the kids!
In the past, when women put in the long years to rise to the top, for the most part, they were past their child-birthing years. Now that we are seeing women rise up the corporate ladder faster than before, we had better get used to it.
In Mayer’s case, she is 37 years old. And there is nothing wrong with her choosing to have a child and continue as CEO. Will she take some time off? Of course. But please explain to me — What is the difference between a male CEO taking some time off for medical leave and Mayer having a child?
At Apple, the late Steve Jobs took a medical leave. Was he still involved in running the company as he sought treatment for pancreatic cancer? Yep. The company was questioned more for not revealing enough detail about his absence because he was such a critical player in its success.
Recently, the CEOs at American Equity, Sourcefire and Union Pacific announced in the last several months that they were taking time off for medical leaves.
The CEO clearly is the most critical person in a company’s leadership chain.
But a smart chief executive officer is also smart enough to build a strong team that has the ability to manage the decision-making while the CEO is out of the office.
When there is so much negative discussion over a woman choosing to have a career and a family, we are sending a shameful message at a time when we should be encouraging women instead of discouraging them.
Maybe we should flip the conversation and discuss when it makes sense for men married to high-powered women to step back from their careers in order to raise the child.
Years ago Michael Keaton touched on the topic in the movie, Mr. Mom. Here, he was a corporate executive who lost his job while his wife shot up the chart at her job. He struggled having to raise the kids, but finally came to the conclusion that he could do the job.
But it seems that as a nation, we are afraid to have that conversation. Maybe this is because we are too afraid to let go of the traditional “man-brings-home-the-bacon-and-the-woman-fries-it-in-the-pan” mentality.
Well, I’m not. I want to see Mayer succeed as CEO of Yahoo as well as being a good mother to her child. And since everyone talks about her brilliance, she’ll likely pull it off with ease and grace.
So, Marissa, handle your business at Yahoo, and at home!
Roland S. Martin is an award-winning CNN analyst and author of the book “The First: President Barack Obama’s Road to the White House as Originally Reported by Roland S. Martin.” Please visit his website at RolandSMartin.com. To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
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