Marissa Mayer, shown in a file photo, was named Yahoo's… (Justin Sullivan )
As Lisa Belkin put it, new Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is the most powerful pregnant woman in America. Yesterday, she surprised many when it was announced that she, a longtime Google executive, was leaving the company to lead Yahoo. A tweet from her a few hours later saying that she was pregnant surprised even more people.
Yahoo has had it rough, CEO-wise, the past five years or so. So she's already going to be under scrutiny.
Everyone's still talking about Anne-Marie Slaughter's Atlantic article, Why Women Still Can't Have It All. Now we'll be watching to see if Mayer can. Reportedly, she's going to be taking just a few weeks off -- and working through them -- after her baby arrives around October.
Marziah at GeekMom recounts a recent presentation at CES in January in which Mayer and several other women technical execs discussed the trend of women giving up tech careers and suggesting that instead they should grab more power: "Why? When you have enough power, you dictate the rules. Bring your baby to work. Turn that meeting into a teleconference from home. Set up a daycare on campus. Flex your schedule around that pediatrician appointment."
Belkin added: "A few years ago I was on a panel with Heidi Miller, who, at the time, was the most powerful woman in banking, and she memorably said, 'At the top you don't have to be there at 10 a.m. sharp because you know you have a staff who will be there at 10 a.m. sharp. It's getting to the top that's hard on mothers, not being there.'"
I suppose that could turn out to be true. I hope for Mayer's -- and Yahoo's -- sake that in the next couple of months before her son arrives, she's able to amass a staff she'll be able to trust that much in her new position. Five previous CEOs have stumbled, even without the added pressure of a newborn.
Is Yahoo worried? Fortune reported yesterday: "None of the Yahoo directors, she says, revealed any concern about hiring a pregnant chief executive. 'They showed their evolved thinking,' says Mayer, who got the phone call last Thursday that she was the board's choice to be CEO."
Most definitely, the business world, moms, and where those two groups intersect will be watching carefully.