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Former Google Star Marissa Mayer Appointed New Yahoo CEO

Posted on the 18 July 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
Google star Marissa Mayer becomes CEO of Yahoo while six months pregnant Marissa Mayer: New Yahoo CEO

The background

Marissa Mayer, Google’s first female engineer, has been appointed CEO of Yahoo. But what’s really got the commentariat talking is that the former Google star is six months pregnant, a fact her new employers were aware of when she was offered the position. Mayer said she plans to take a few weeks’ maternity leave, but will work throughout.

Is this a giant leap forward for career-minded mothers-to-be? Not all commentators are convinced.

Who is Marissa Mayer?

CNN provided an 11-point list about the new Yahoo CEO. A specialist in artificial intelligence while at university, Mayer is responsible for the clean look of the Google homepage and “has overseen the launch and development of many of Google’s iconic products”. In addition to her corporate work, Mayer also sits on the boards of several non-profit organisations. And she is “obsessed” with fashion and has a $5 million penthouse.

Mayer is an inspiration

“Mayer’s ascent is all the sweeter to glass-ceiling watchers for the fact that it’s by virtue of the climber’s own merits, with no hint of quotas,” wrote Rowan Pelling in The Telegraph. The pregnancy makes her appointment all the more groundbreaking: “It’s refreshing to learn that the Yahoo bosses don’t believe motherhood and executive office are incompatible.”

Is this progress for working parents?

Although Mayer’s appointment should be celebrated, “it conveniently shows the gulf between the US and much of Europe when it comes to the rights of working parents,” wrote Jane Martinson in The Guardian. “In the US, where women have the right only to 12 weeks’ unpaid leave, progress is often perceived as a woman giving birth while signing off on an acquisition and sacking a few hundred staff members.”

Mayer under pressure

Putting the pregnancy aside, Mayer is under considerable pressure as a female CEO, said Erin Gloria Ryan at Jezebel. “There are so few women in tech executive suites that Mayer’s success or failure will inevitably be perceived as a barometer for how well all women, any women can do.” If she fails in her unenviable task “to turn around an already-behind-the-8-ball company that several non-pregnant non-women couldn’t”, other tech companies may use this as justification to exclude women from the boardroom.

Watch Marissa Mayer on CNET’s 2012 Women in Tech panel.

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