When a man takes a job as CEO, his personal life rarely comes up. And when it does, it's rarely a factor.
Consider Marc Hurd. He apparently pigged out (a 2010 NY Times story reports on his alleged transgressions) while CEO at Hewlett Packard
Nobody asked if he might be distracted by the beautiful women who likely populate the halls at Larry Ellison's company. It was never a factor.
If Brian Dunn didn't burn Best Buy
The media, as well as Wall Street, absolutely refuses to talk about Apple (AAPL)
I understand the reasons why and I even agree. It's personal. Everybody messes up from time to time (Hurd, Dunn). Everybody has potential distractions (Hurd, Dunn). And plenty of people live lifestyles that, while perfectly normal, make others uneasy and, if highly public, could become a distraction (Cook).
I get it. These things should not be issues. They have no impact whatsoever on Hurd, Dunn or Cook's abilities to do their jobs. We talk about these issues -- some of them -- while they're tabloid material, but we proceed to let them fade to the background as the powerful executive moves forward to his next challenge.
If you're a woman, however, chances are that you'll face more scrutiny than a man, particularly from Wall Street and the media, and it will take longer for it to fade away, if it ever does completely.
Before I even knew Mayer was pregnant, I wrote the following in an article published Monday by TheStreet:
Of course, because Mayer is female she will draw even more attention and, quite possibly, face a different type of scrutiny.
Her baby -- the budding human who should be a constant reminder of new beginnings -- will trigger questions. Of course, it prompted them immediately. Did the Yahoo board know? Will she be able to work through a pregnancy? Can she handle the stress and pressure of being a CEO Mom? Should Yahoo have even hired her in the first place? Did the Board screw up again?
Of course, if the Board effectively discriminated against a woman for having a life outside of work, only feminist organizations would have uttered a peep. And they would have been vilified as kooky liberals for doing so.
Newsflash: None of this should matter.
This is not Steve Jobs's cancer. While I cringed at the attention the media and Apple shareholders paid to it, I understood concerns over his ability to lead, the likelihood that he would lead again and succession.
Death. It's practically the inverse of having a baby. The media has no business -- and serves no utility -- reporting on Mayer's pregnancy with anything but "We wish you a happy, problem-free experience and a healthy child. We hope he gets your looks."
Anything else beyond that -- the scrutiny, the questions -- are little more than chauvinist insults directed at a woman so many deemed a CEO failure before her first day on the job. As if Marissa Mayer -- the public face of a company that quickly became of the world's iconic brands -- cannot manage the work-life balance.
Forgive me for being presumptuous, but this is 2012. Marissa Mayer is 37. She, by all accounts, is incredibly progressive and savvy.
I would guess that right after they placed her as Yahoo CEO, Spencer Stuart began an all-out search for a nanny. (If a headhunter steals that idea, I will litigate). Interviews are likely already in progress. Or maybe Yahoo has on-site day care. It's not unheard of in parts of the country where -- gasp -- people actually have open minds and attempt to accommodate the somewhat unfamiliar.
I'm sure Mayer is familiar with all of the various ways to stay connected when not in the office. She'll spend a few days in the hospital. Go home and rest for a few days. Ease back into work shortly thereafter and likely not even miss a beat.
Frankly, it's a shame that Mayer will have to put on this show of strength. This ability to detach from the things that really matter so she can focus all of her energy on turning around a bloody company.
She'll promptly hire new and capable adults and delegate to existing and equally as capable Yahoo employees from the hospital, from home and as a new Mom, just as she would have from the office at all hours of the night as childless power spouse. I'm guessing she has already started rolling the ball on that process.
Just writing about this makes me angry, sad and overcome with side-splitting laughter at the same time.
It's depressing that somebody even needs to come to the defense of a woman who, despite the relative progressiveness of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, rolls in a male-dominated world, complete with all of the absurd and macho double standards society, in most parts, has come to accept.
Plus, Mayer has several more-than-amazing role models to call on who are just a stone's throw away.
In fact, I would not be surprised if she has already consulted with Sheryl Sandberg, the COO at Facebook
At the time of publication, the author was long FB.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
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