Talk about smashing through the glass ceiling: Marissa Mayer, the newly minted CEO of Yahoo!, managed to score the job despite having several strikes against her—or so the media coverage goes. In fact, given the high turnover of CEOs in the recent past, Yahoo! was as much in need of an image makeover as the GOP was when it brought on Sarah Palin (in retrospect, perhaps not the best idea).
With job descriptions that slyly require “web natives,” aka young people, her relative youth isn’t that surprising. After all, this is the era of prepubescent CEOs, so 37 is already quite wizened. The fact that she’s female? Maybe it would have been a significant accomplishment at Google, say, or a company that was actually successful, but as the founder of Parenting magazine pointed out yesterday on NPR, this job is sort of the bargain-basement CEO position in the tech world right now.
The real breakthrough—and a truly significant, pathbreaking milestone—is the fact that Mayer was hired for such a high-profile, high-pressure position while pregnant. Given that women get fired for getting pregnant—yes, it’s illegal; yes, it happens—this is a remarkable turn of events. It suggests that women are no longer assumed to be compromised or inferior or less committed as businesspeople simply because small people emerge from their vaginas.
Then again, it’s true that some women do leave the workplace after maternity leave, and some find it difficult, if not impossible, to “have it all.” Hence women in powerful positions like Janet Napolitano, who was said to be perfect for her new role in Washington, according to former Pennsylvania guv Ed Rendell, because she didn’t have kids. She also wore pantsuits, which always helps.
It remains to be seen how Mayer will handle the baby issue, but she’s a wealthy woman, and like Angelina Jolie (but not Octomom), she can easily hire help. And rest assured, given that she’s making this unprecedented move and is the Gloria Steinem of breeding female CEOs, she will not fuck this up. Oh, she might fuck Yahoo! up, but who doesn’t?
Best of luck, Marissa. Don’t forget to breast feed.