Normally, a 37-year-old who is about to become a mom is not front-page news. But Marissa Mayer is the pregnant new CEO of Yahoo!
When I learned I would become a mother for the first time at 35, I thought I would take a 12-week maternity leave and immediately return to full-time work as a Newsweek correspondent. Three months passed, and I wanted four months, and then six months. I also realized I didn't want to travel away from my daughter.
I was lucky that my employer was accommodating. But then, I was reporting and writing stories, not running a company with 12,000 employees.
It's hard enough to leave a child with a babysitter or at a daycare center for a single workday. How will Mayer feel when she inevitably needs to travel for her job? Will she take time off for the first day of school? Will she try to save all of her vacation for the summer?
Like Mayer, I am a married Stanford grad with long blonde hair who waited until her mid-30s to become a mom. The similarities end there. Her net worth is estimated at $300 million or so. (She was an early Google employee.) She will be able to afford round-the-clock helpers who could fly with her and with her baby. And since is the boss, she will be able to schedule meetings around any breast milk pumping times.
It can be tricky to juggle being a mom and leading a large corporation. Meg Whitman, now 55, became the CEO of eBay in 1998 and, more recently, ran unsuccessfully for governor of California. Her sons Griffith and Will have had some brushes with the law, which may or may not be linked to their mom's busy schedule. And of course, the kids of full-time moms can wind up in trouble, too.
It's a wonderful sign of the times that 20 women are on the Fortune 500 list. (I remember when there were only two.) It's a wonderful sign of the times that it's OK to be pregnant and landing a job - and a big job, to boot. And it's a wonderful sign of the times that someone of childbearing age got this position when, according to search firm Spencer Stewart, the average CEO is 56.5. i
The best scenario: Mayer will be a superstar CEO who increases the company's profits and sets parent-friendly corporate policies.
Mayer's son is due on Oct. 7. The life expectancy of a Yahoo! CEO is about the same as the gestation period. Fingers crossed that Mayer will last longer. The good news is that, unlike many new moms, the pregnant new CEO of Yahoo! can afford to stop working.
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