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Marissa Mayer: What to Expect When the CEO is Expecting

I’ve blogged about women who chose to be stay-at-home moms and others that have returned to work full-time, so I was curious to know what parents in our industry thought of Marissa Mayer’s decision to become CEO at Yahoo while expecting her first child in October.

I asked people via Facebook and email and here’s what came back: You were overwhelmingly supportive. Many of you are already part of dual-income families and weren’t surprised by Mayer’s decision – having already navigated the choices and compromises of being working parents.

“I applaud her strength and commitment to both her work and to starting a family. She’s a great role model,” said the VP, Director of Communications at a NYC public relations firm… who recently returned to her full-time post when her first baby was 3 months old.

“One day the child may be proud of its mother for working her tail off, instilling a strong work ethic and hopefully making an impact in a largely male-dominated CEO club,” said the Director of Talent Acquisition at a major ad agency, and mom of three who works full-time.

I’m a Have your cake & eat it too kind of person, so I agree with you. Why should Mayer put her career on hold because she’s chosen to be a mom? It’s nice to see that Yahoo’s Board of Directors believe her pregnancy and maternity leave won’t impair her job performance. I hope that this decision from a highly visible and powerful woman will inspire new norms.

However, my fear is that expectations for working mothers will increase without the infrastructure catching up. They’ll still be salary disparities between men & women, year-round child care and schooling options will be limited or cost-prohibitive, flexible hours and work-from-home scenarios will lack widespread acceptance.

These are significant burdens, even for parents like Mayer who can afford to bring in help.

I worry that superhumans like Marissa Mayer or Angelina Jolie will become our new role models. We’ll add CEO, humanitarian and activist to our ever-growing repertoire without acknowledging that these women can hire a staff that ferry kids to school and make pancakes in the shape of animals.

I’d like to see more support for working families, programs and work environments better aligned with changing family dynamics. Either that or some non-gross way to replicate ourselves, so everyone – regardless of earning power – can choose to be both CEOs and moms, flip pancakes, go to soccer games and attend board meetings.

What do you think of Mayer’s choices?

What changes would you like to see for working parents?

What superhuman power would you like to have?

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