When Marissa Mayer was hired as Yahoo!’s new CEO last summer, feminists hoped that the pregnant business tycoon would advance the cause of women in the workplace. Unfortunately, it seems that Mayer might not be the feminist crusader that we hoped she would be. In a recent Yahoo!-wide memo, Mayer announced that “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.” This edict is a blow to all the working mothers who will be forced to work at the office (despite the fact that the tech nature of Yahoo! lends itself to allowing staff to work from home). A Daily Mail article picked up on the hypocrisy of this new policy, considering the fact that Mayer would likely be working from home if she hadn’t had the considerable funds necessary to install her five-month-old son in a private, fully-staffed nursery right next to her office. As the husband of a Yahoo! employee who works from home bitterly noted, “I wonder what would happen if my wife brought our kids and nanny to work?”
The fact that Mayer isn’t using her position to champion women’s rights in the workplace doesn’t come as much of a surprise considering her fraught relationship with feminism. In its coverage of Mayer’s new memo, Time cites a year-old clip of Mayer declaring, “I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist…I don’t I think have sort of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that…There are amazing opportunities all over the world for women. I think that there’s more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy.” Of course, as Time writer Bonnie Rochman notes, recognizing and targeting the patriarchal systems that negatively impact women in the workplace isn’t fueling negative energy, it’s doing the necessary work to create a positive outcome. While Mayer can afford to return to work after only two weeks of maternity leave, a lot of women can’t, and her intractability on this issue is especially disheartening coming from one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world.
Via Time and The Daily Mail, Images Via The Dispatch and Getty Images