Marissa, Marissa, Marissa. Every time I turn around, there’s someone talking about Marissa. She’s everywhere. And, yes, now she’s here.
(For those of you who don’t live in the Silicon Valley or have 100 Facebook friends who have worked at Yahoo! at some point, let me summarize: Yesterday she was a Google exec, today she’s Yahoo!’s CEO, and in October, she’ll be a mom for the first time. Phew, that’s one busy lady.)
For the most part, I try to avoid chiming in on media hype. But this story, well, it hits close to home. I worked at Yahoo! for eight years. I was pregnant while working at Yahoo! three times. While I never had Marissa’s shiny blond hair, engineering mind, or bank account, I did sit on the same floor as she will, worked pretty darn hard, was respected by my colleagues, and grew a watermelon under my (not-so) corporate attire—long before she did.
So, I don’t know about you, but I think that qualifies me to be her role model. As such, I was thinking of telling her how I did everything in my power to work with my manager and HR to take a six-month maternity leave. Twice. I also thought she might like to hear about how I went to a 4-day week. And, eventually, a 3-day week. You know, so I could continue to develop my career (and pay my mortgage) while spending more time with my babies.
It’s funny though, I keep reading about why she—as a working, expectant mother—should be my role model. After all, she’s the youngest CEO of a Fortune 500 company (though she is older than I am…phew). She’s smart, beautiful, charasmatic, and outrageously ambitious. In fact she only plans to take a 3-week maternity leave, but she’ll be checking in the whole time. Talk about driven.
I’ve probably read about 15 articles/posts about Marissa and her future at Yahoo!, and I have yet to see one that doesn’t applaud her and all she’s doing for women like me. Working moms.
But honestly, I’m not so sure. If I were still at Yahoo!, I’d be a bit nervous about the precident she’s setting. I can only hope that she’s holding herself to a standard she won’t expect from the women working for her. I can only hope that, in spite of her personal choices, she’ll foster a culture where flexible schedules and long maternity leaves keep great talent motivated and loyal. Personally, that was one of the things I valued most about working at Yahoo!.
And I guess that’s what it all comes down to. The wonderful thing about how far we’ve come as women is that we do have choices. And rather than the media telling us which choices have value, we have to—no, we get to—decide what’s right for us. As individuals.
I think it’s wonderful that a woman like Marissa has the opportunity to live out her career dreams at the same time as having a baby. I hope that the company—and her new baby—thrive thanks to her passion.
And, while you won’t see media hype about me, I think it’s wonderful that I, too, get to live my dream of working from home so I can be a part of my kids’ daily lives. Even if my career isn’t booming right now. Because that’s the choice I’ve made to ensure my family thrives.
And, ladies, whatever choices you’ve made—for you, for your family, for your career—well they’re yours to own. Yours to celebrate.
And that? That is the progress we should all be celebrating. Not just today, but every day.
What do you think? Who are your career/mom role models?