The Journey with Joan Ball

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer raised eyebrows when she took the helm of the faltering tech company last year. Not only was she the youngest ever female CEO of a Fortune 500 company, she was 5 months pregnant when she got the gig. Don’t worry, she assured tech watchers.  “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”

That decision to take the job and pooh-pooh her need for a maternity leave received mixed reactions ranging from support to concern that her decision might be a step backward for women with less power and resources. CNNMoney writer Katherine Reynolds Lewis encapsulated the discourse with a simple question: Marissa Mayer’s Brief Maternity Leave: Progress or Workaholism?

Last Friday, Mayer made another decision that has tech newsies buzzing. According to a memo leaked by company employees, effective, June 2013, all Yahoo employees who work remotely will either report to an office or quit.

“Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home,” reads the memo to employees from HR head Jackie Reses that was reprinted on “We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together.”

But is that true in a world with Skype and Google hangouts and…well…Yahoo!?

Huffington Post Work/life columnist Lisa Belkin doesn’t think so. She writes:

“I had hope for Marissa Mayer. I’d thought that while she was breaking some barriers — becoming the youngest woman CEO to run a Fortune 500 company, and certainly the first to do it while pregnant — she might take on the challenge of breaking a number of others. That she’d use her platform and her power to make Yahoo! an example of a modern family-friendly workplace. That she would embrace the thinking that new tools and technology deserve an equally new approach to where and how employees are allowed to work.”

But is that Marissa’s mandate? Does being young and female and pregnant when she took the CEO position mean that we should expect her to make “family-friendly” decisions for Yahoo? Or is expecting her to do so a sneaky sort of reverse-sexism?

Asked another way, what do/should expect from high-profile working mothers like Marissa Mayer?







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