Celebrity pregnancy news gets great media attention. I admit I have an interest in how these celebrity parents choose to raise their families in terms of breast feeding and parenting style, etc. Then again, I am interested in how ALL parents choose to maneuver through parenthood, so that’s no surprise. One interesting pregnancy announcement, though, is really making us at Pump Candy talk, and I wonder what thoughts are out there from our readers.
When news broke that Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, was pregnant with twin girls, I thought “Wow, twins! How will she manage?” When I heard Mayer was planning to take a two week leave I thought, “Oh my, THAT’S how she will manage...Paternity Leave!”
Marissa Mayer earns $42 million a year. Earning a salary this large may explain her commitment to getting back to work as soon as possible. She is certainly not the only woman taking a two week leave postpartum, but a salary of $42 million dollars means that she can afford the choice to take only two weeks off. This choice is very different from the many families forced to take a short leave due to a lack of funds. She might be exhausted, she might miss her little newborn girls (although they will likely be in a nursery next to her office, similar to when her son was born), it might be a difficult transition, but she will not be forced to worry that they are safe while she is working.
Marissa Mayer implemented a 16 week maternity leave and 8 week paternity leave policy at Yahoo. This gesture is an acknowledgement of the importance of the work of childbearing, the importance of the bond that takes place during first few months with a newborn, and it acknowledges that the father/partner is integral to maintaining the family unit. But what does her own short leave say to her employees? Maybe her own short leave is just that–her own choice. Mayer’s role as a major company leader is different to theirs in so many ways that maybe it is ok that her work-life balance looks different that theirs.
The Yahoo Stock Price fell 2% when Mayer announced her pregnancy and her plans to return to work shortly after delivery. This is upsetting. Many male CEOs return to work in as short a time. Many less affluent women have children and return to work immediately as well-they are expected to or they will lose their jobs. In an ideal world having a baby (or 2), and making clear decisions on how to balance a career would not be seen as reasons to lose confidence in a company to the point that the share price would drop.
There is a lot going on with this story. It is a reflection of culture, work-life-balance, norms and diversity within parenthood. Mayer is a power house CEO, and she is choosing to maintain a career while also choosing to follow the calling to motherhood. She has figured it out and many of could stand to learn how to better balance our lives by hearing these stories of women who have it both ways. To that I say, Brilliant!