Mayer have a career please?

24 Jul

Mums get it in the neck. Sometimes they just can’t win. Debate is raging around Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, and her assertion that she’ll only be taking a few weeks of maternity leave and plans to pretty much work through it. Naive? Yes. (A newborn is bloody hard work.) But with lots of cash to throw at the situation? Well, yes, maybe it is possible to resume your career the day the baby and mother are booted out of the private hospital followed by a gaggle of muslin-clutching nannies ready to mop up every posset. Three cheers for the woman with a successful career! Hooray for the woman who’s having a baby! But a woman trying to have a career and a baby at the same time? Boo hiss!

Marissa Mayer is an amazing example of what a woman can achieve in business. What? Even wearing heels and lipstick? Well, yes. Patronising as it may sound to mark her out as something extraordinary, that – unfortunately – is the world we live in. Women at Ms Mayer’s level are still an exception rather than a rule. It’s still odd. It is even more odd – as the debate around her comments would suggest – that a woman could choose to have a baby and choose to continue her career at the expense of the precious time that not being at work allows a mother and her child.

Yet if you’ve already made sacrifices and worked flipping hard why would you want to give up any elements of what you’ve achieved? You’re still a mother regardless. Your child still needs you and in amongst the conference calls and PDA tapping you’ll make sure you meet that need. Many women don’t get the chance to spend a long maternity leave with their child and for reasons very different to Marissa Mayer’s. She may not need to go back to work for the money but plenty of women do and need to do so quick smartish – a sad reality, like it or not, of a world driven by filthy lucre.

A woman shouldn’t have to choose a career over parenthood (or vice versa). The midwife doesn’t send you out of the hospital with a placard saying “I’m a Mother and I aspire to nothing but burping my baby”.  Equally, if/when you do return to work you don’t wear a badge saying “Opting out – I’m just here for nappy money”. But  in a society where women are still the primary carers for children, making sacrifices (intentionally or otherwise) is inevitable. Even when you attempt to strike a work/life balance it can, speaking from experience, feel like you’re failing at both. Should you be able to have your cake and eat it? Of course, but for most ordinary women it isn’t possible to be Superwoman – and let’s face it Marissa Mayer isn’t ‘ordinary’.

Marissa Mayer would probably love to take a year off if she knew for sure that things wouldn’t move on without her and set back her achievements. Bringing up a child alongside the pressures of her career will be another achievement that she can be proud of. To me she doesn’t sound like a woman who would do things by halves.

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6 Responses to “Mayer have a career please?”

  1. Lisa July 29, 2012 at 11:44 am #

    Hi, yes I too would have loved to have a year off but alas it was not too be. Fantastic post on the debate over working mums.

    • Crumbs & Pegs July 29, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

      Thanks for comment. A debate that will never die I’m sure. What with that and breastfeeding there’s plenty to bash away at the female guilt complex! 😉

  2. Muddling Along August 1, 2012 at 1:38 pm #

    I think that the higher you are in your career, the harder it is to take a year out – I certainly ended up taking short maternity leaves so as not to get totally out of touch

    I think you can have it all, just not at the same time and you do end up getting dragged in every direction but each time another woman gives it a go and succeeds, it helps stop women being asked if they can have children and a job instead of fathers being asked the same question – when we get to that point the war is won!

    • Crumbs & Pegs August 1, 2012 at 10:09 pm #

      Thanks for comment! Agree. Employers already acknowledging that working mothers are better organised and better at multi-tasking. Perhaps having kids will become seen as career enhancing! 🙂

  3. Crumbs & Pegs September 17, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    Thank you!!

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