Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is pregnant again, this time with identical twin girls, and just as she did with her first child, the mogul announced she will be taking limited time off after the twins are born and working throughout her pregnancy.
Mayer, who assumed her role at Yahoo while she was pregnant with her son, has been criticized for her attitudes about work/life balance and for setting what some believe is a bad example for women. If a CEO can give birth and not miss a beat, what excuse do the rest of us have?
Of course, us regular folk can’t build a nursery next to our office, or even afford high quality childcare. Many of us don’t even receive paid leave — or any leave — when we get pregnant. Comparing ourselves to Mayer is unrealistic and foolish.
But, what about the men in the workforce who are planning to start a family? While paternity leave and other benefits for new dads are becoming more prevalent, a man’s success is still measured in the dollars he makes and not the diapers he changes. Our society values long hours at the office, putting work over family and doing whatever it takes to succeed. All of which are generally associated with men.
I’m not saying all men or women should quit their jobs to have kids. That’s not practical for those of us living in the mainstream. (If you want to go off and live in a self-sustaining commune, best of luck to you.) Raising a family costs money — lots of money — and money comes from work.
However, with all the advances technology has afforded us, maybe we should be working smarter. I still don’t understand why some companies are so reluctant to let their employees work from home as often as they would like. I for one, was always more productive out of the office without the distractions of the workplace. And, is it really so great to be the last one to leave? I would argue that getting your work done as quickly and efficiently as possible is more admirable, even if it means going home at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5:00.
Women like Mayer perpetuate the idea of career before everything else. She is applauded as an example of the progress women have made in the workforce. We believe that a woman succeeding in a traditionally male – dominated space is something to be celebrated.
The same cannot be said of the growing number of men who forgo career for family.
If you don’t think that’s the case, ask yourself: who is the Marissa Mayer of stay-at-home dads?
The lack of well-known examples of men who choose to take on the responsibilities of raising their children, exemplifies that while “family values” is tossed around in American politics, we still have a long way to go. We look to women like Mayer and call it “progress,” while simultaneously criticizing male athletes for attending the birth of their children. Until we view raising a family as important as raising profits, staying home to care for children will always be seen as a privilege and not a fundamental necessity for the advancement of society.
So, go ahead and applaud Mayer showing motherhood doesn’t have to slow down your career. At the same time, celebrate executives like Max Schireson, who quit his job as CEO of a successful tech company to spend time with his family.
Both show success has many meanings and should not be limited by societal or gender constructs.