The Marissa Mayer Rules

By Williams, Joan C. | Newsweek, August 6, 2012 | Go to article overview

The Marissa Mayer Rules


Williams, Joan C., Newsweek


Byline: Joan C. Williams

The new Yahoo CEO's maternity leave is not a model to follow.

Yahoo, which has been bleeding market share for years, was lucky to snag Google executive Marissa Mayer as its new CEO. Yahoo's move "elated" staff and garnered an avalanche of positive press. "Yahoo for Yahoo," wrote Hanna Rosin, a senior editor at The Atlantic.

"Does this mean the glass ceiling has shattered?" a reporter asked me last week.

Hardly. Mayer recently said, "My maternity leave will be a few weeks long, and I'll work throughout it." While that may be feasible for a woman who could bring home $59 million this year, it's not a model for the 99 percent. Only a tiny fraction of mothers can afford to hire round-the-clock help so they can work throughout leave, and most don't want to anyway. Of those who are permitted time off for family caregiving but don't take it, 78 percent say it's because they can't afford to. Besides, the 12-week leave barely scratches the surface; after all, it doesn't take three months to raise a child; it takes nearly 20 years.

What parents need goes beyond leave: they need companies to abandon the outdated assumption that the ideal worker has no responsibilities outside of work--an assumption that needs to change for men as well as for women. While men have a right to parental leave under federal law, they're often punished when they take it. …

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