Last night, news broke that Yahoo's new CEO — former Google fixture Marissa Mayer — is six months pregnant. Her new employer was fully aware of the pregnancy when they brought her on, and did it anyway. They didn't care. Zero fucks given. Congratulations and "atta girl"'s echoed through the Twitter echo chamber. But you know who is deeply vexed that the new CEO of Yahoo is With Child? Concernmongering sexists.
Mayer's got her work cut out for her, sure — Yahoo is, by all accounts, just about the saddest, droopiest tech company with household name recognition. I'm legally obligated to describe their recent run of 5 different CEOs in 5 years as a "revolving door." And Mayer herself announced she was moving to Yahoo via a Google product. To further complicate matters, hours after the announcement, she told the world that she and her husband were expecting a baby boy. In October.
On today's Morning Joe, business pundit (and apparently pregnancy/motherhood/company running expert) Brian Sullivan weighed in on Marissa Mayer's pregnancy, offering the equivalent of a condescending backhanded belly pat for the new Yahoo chief,
Mayer's only 37, she is pregnant. So, and fortunately she said she's going to work during the maternity leave, that — that's gonna be tough. Y'know. Take some time off. Yahoo's been in trouble for years. My advice: take some time off. Get your baby. Raise the kid for a little bit, and then, work on the company when you can.
Mika, herself a working mother, was not amused.
But the patronizing didn't end with Morning Bro. One writer at Forbes wonders if Yahoo was obligated to disclose Mayer's condition to shareholders, because she's got a medical condition that could affect the company, a similar condition to another tech CEO recently in the news: Steve Jobs. Who was dying of cancer. A man dying of cancer is just as permanently sidelined as a woman, uh, temporarily pregnant. But wait! Science!
Mayer is 37, and pregnancy is more risky for her and the baby than if she were younger. The March of Dimes says 1 in 5 women in the United States has her first child after age 35 and the good news is most have healthy pregnancies and healthy babies. Studies show, though, that women in their mid-to-late 30s and 40s may face some special pregnancy risks. Mayer may need more than a "few weeks" and may not be able to "work throughout it," like she told Fortune.
Oh, thank goodness this article was around to inform Marissa Mayer of the risks of pregnancy. I'm sure her doctor hadn't already thought about it. Any old timey folk wisdom about baby boys to add while you're at it? Will having a ball busting executive of a mom turn the kid gay?!
Certainly, mothering a child isn't an easy task. There's the physical demands of late pregnancy, the mental demands of turning a company around. Mayer's going to have to hit the ground running, pregnant and in heels. But, Christ, let's just trust Mayer on this. She may be the first pregnant woman to ever be the CEO of company as large as Yahoo, but other women in Mayer's generation have succeeded in tech's executive suites (Facebook board member Sheryl Sandberg comes to mind) while raising a family. Furthermore, she's hardly going to be going at this alone — Marissa Mayer is a multi, multi millionaire, and her household can afford to outsource some of the more time-intensive maternal duties to her husband, extended family, or hired domestic help.
Still, Mayer's pregnancy puts her in an even more precarious professional position. While their numbers are growing, there are so few women in tech executive suites that Mayer's success or failure will inevitably be perceived as a barometer for how well all women, any women can do. If she fails, that failure to turn around an already-behind-the-8-ball company that several non-pregnant non-women couldn't will be used as justification for hesitating to let women of reproductive age vie for leadership positions in other tech companies. You CEO like a girl!
But unless you're Marissa Mayer, Marissa Mayer's doctors, or Yahoo's board of directors, it's time to knock it off with the pregnant CEO faux concern. No one becomes as successful as Marissa Mayer by making stupid decisions. As a monumental side-eye-giving Mika said to Brian Sullivan on Morning Joe this morning, "I think she's good."