Crush It, Marissa!

Image by Tilak Bisht
Image by Tilak Bisht

Last week most prominent media outlets reported on Marissa Mayer’s six month bonus. The Marissa story repels me. The media scrutinizes every management move she makes.

It’s because she is a relatively young woman, in my opinion. At this point, I hope she crushes it at Yahoo!, and forever shuts up the media and all the old bastards who think women can’t manage companies.

The men versus women debate goes through the eons. Since Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth we have seen over and over again that when given an opportunity to lead women can do so, and do it quite effectively.

You could make the argument that when physical strength mattered it made sense for men to have certain roles, and women others. But the caveman era has long since passed, and we are not neanderthals.

As time passed we had the incredibly arduous women’s suffrage movement and the failed Equal Rights Amendment in the United States. Yet women seem to vote more than men, are more literate, and as the recent recession showed, are more employable in the information economy.

Yet we still have an issue with leadership. The whole Hillary Clinton run for president drama in recent years has been sad to watch. She clearly received extra scrutiny for her gender. Some of our European and Asian democratic brethren have been far more advanced electing Margaret Thatcher and Indira Ghandi to prime minister roles.

Here we are in the early 21st century, still shocked that a Sheryl Sandberg has the audacity to write books and lead Facebook’s business operation. We question the wisdom of hiring a career-minded search executive who just happened to be pregnant.

Medieval.

Says the Breadwinner

Soleil & Caitlin

My wife lost her job eight months ago, thrusting me into the breadwinner’s seat. While I earned more, she did pretty well and brought home the benefits, too. So it was a big change, and it put us into a traditional male/female hierarchical role.

Yes, most men would be THRILLED to be in this position. I’m not. It’s uncomfortable for me.

I grew up with strong entrepreneurial women on both sides of my family. Rewriting those scripts to accept my wife as a stay-at-home mom was not easy, believe it or not.

I know that while Caitlin appreciates her time with the baby, she misses contributing. She talks about possible jobs frequently. And of course, I support that. I can tell she needs that fulfillment, that catching up everyday on the New York Times and reading online isn’t cutting the mustard mentally.

We all need intellectual and emotional fulfillment of some sort. Contributing through work is a primary vehicle for that. Why would we deny anyone — man or woman — that right?

More men stay home with their kids and/or keep the home these days while women bring home the bread. As someone who just loves his child, I would not complain if that were my role. It would be awesome, actually, particularly as she gets older and can interact now.

People should be allowed to go as far as they want, and where their hearts lead them. Let merit and accomplishment deem who can do what.

We need to embrace equality for good now. The biological imperative of the past need not apply.

What do you think?

19 Replies to “Crush It, Marissa!”

  1. Yes. This. All of this.

    I wonder, if a man had changed the “work from home” policy, would it have gotten much attention? Maybe the answer to that question isn’t good for men.

    A lot of people hold up Sheryl Sandberg as the savior of modern women, but I find it not to be so. Most of her “viral” quotes are negative. They talk about how “women are perceived this way” or “it’s hard for women to…” She doesn’t talk about how she got around those problems. She doesn’t talk about how she deals with them.

    Marissa Mayer is in a no-win situation. Had she expanded the work from home policy she would have been vilified for being too conservative and traditional. It’s ridiculous.

    1. If Marissa was a man, she would have been called an asshole, and that would be it. Then when the company turns around, a genius. Instead, she is questioned and will likely always be questioned, even if she is highly successful, a la Sandberg.

      It just goes to show you media bias against women. Then stories are reported negatively to society about women CEOs, and we have a national perception issue.

      As far as Sandberg as positive or negative, why are we questioning her? She’s doing what no woman has done before, providing the business end of a company that had a $100 billion IPO? Negative or positive, it works, at least for her.

      1. I don’t think it would have been more than a blip if she were a man. I managed remote employees for years as a VP/Sales, but I was mandated to be out at our mill at least one out of every six weeks – and it was across the country. It was a drag, but it was essential. I missed so much not BEING there. I thought that the entire hub bub was much ado about nothing – Google employees aren’t remote. It was much ado about a woman making a big move. LOVE the post Geoff.

        1. Makes sense to me. And many companies with technical coders ask that their employees work on site. The environment and ethos matter.

  2. This resonates on a lot of levels. Well said. Raised by a single mom, and now having two daughters, I really have never been able to understand the gender bias that so obviously exists. It’s really pathetic.

    1. Yeah, I think men like you and me are probably even more turned off by this than most.

  3. It seems a perfect storm, a once behemoth tech company easy to hate on and a Google superstar – also easy to hate on. I’m not so sure it’s a matter of her being a woman, though the tech industry isn’t doing them a lot of favors.

    I cheer for Marissa for two reasons: 1. She’s an underdog in this, I love underdogs – she will go down as a genius when this thing shakes out. 2. She’s from my hometown and went to school with my sister-in-law – how can I not love a Central Wisconsin native?

    1. Go Wisconsin. She definitely has the underdog moniker working for her on this one, and like you, that makes her much more likeable, at least to me.

      Cheers!

    2. Some of that is because a lot of women don’t want the job because it often means trading out the motherhood job….which is not worth it. I’m not sure many men want the job either. My observation is that most people today want balance, flexibility, a life! So there are less people willing to be a corporate CEO. But of course women are always judged more harshly once they do arrive at the top.

  4. I was pretty vocal against the revocation of the stay at home policy at Yahoo!, but not because of Gender. I was against it because I run a company with all remote employees and, basically, they kick ass. I feel that the policy at Yahoo! was a mistake because it shows poor middle management, i.e. managers who could not manage their remote employees and keep them productive.

    Obviously I’m an outsider and have no ideas of the intricacies of the decision but wasn’t a big fan of that one. On the other hand, I find myself “rooting” for Mayer. Genius move with Flikr when Instagram privacy got all nuts and I’m excited to see what happens down the road under her reign.

    Garry

    1. Well, I guess you can say whether it was the middle managers or not, the employees of Yahoo! have not kicked ass for some time. Sometimes you need to sacrifice something to get people to pay attention. Better this than their actual jobs.

  5. Thanks Geoff for articulating this so well. On the surface, the scrutiny that Mayer and Sandberg have been through is clearly different because of their gender. I think it runs much deeper than novelty, exposing that our expectations are much different for women. I appreciate that you took the time to write this and relate it back to your personal situation.

  6. Cheers on the post Geoff.., also the personal aspect of it. At home, we have a “classic” situation also.., but only from a money perspective. As far as adding to the “household” goes my wife and I are equal partners.., period (no kids though).

    It does annoy me too.., it’s such a tremendous lack of respect.

    I love the fact she is young and good looking.., must piss “them” off to no end.., and yes.., I do also hope she’ll crush it. Go Yahoo!!

    1. And blonde no less. Just flies in the face of every old man stereotype out there! It really is medieval.

      Good on you and the lady. The way it should be.

  7. Geoff, you and John will be so at home when we all get together (he still remembers meeting you at Priya’s wedding and how nice it was to talk to you). This could be him talking. As a couple, we are very open about money and, in fact, I handle the family budgets, finances, etc. I’m the one who deals with the CPA and so on.

    From a work point of view, in the early years of my US career, I earned less than him – that stopped about 7 years ago. And he couldn’t have been prouder. Now, once I went back to the entrepreneurial life, sure, I wasn’t pulling in (as many) big bucks, and we do depend on his benefits. But as my business grows and my income increases – which is the plan for this year – and I make more than him… heck, he’ll be shouting it from the rooftops.

    1. He’s lucky to have you and vice versa. Sounds like a true partnership. I hope you are doing well, and taking care of your health, Shonali.

  8. Most men today have embraced women in the workplace and themselves at home and a combination of all of that. My husband supported me working and not working and working part time and starting my own company and being a full time mom. And I supported him in all those same roles. We’ve been at it for 20 years. Balancing life and family, the two of us. Yeah to him and yeah to you! As far as women being judged differently once they become senior executives: yes this happens. But at least now they CAN be CEOs and most do a pretty good job. I have seen a huge evolution from 20 years ago when I first had to fight those battles.

    1. Good point, and both Sandberg and Mayer have benefitted from the Fiorinas of the world. But I would say while I see many more female entrepreneurs, I see less progress in the executive ranks of traditional companies over the past 20 years. At least the ones I have worked with…

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