Marissa Mayer’s rise to the CEO position at Yahoo was all over the news yesterday. It would have been anyway, but she helped the story along by announcing that she’s pregnant and due in October. Female CEOs are rare, and so are CEOs in their 30s, so a pregnant CEO is a rare find indeed.
I think it’s kind of cool — and very forward thinking of the Yahoo board to take this in stride — but I’ve been kind of amazed at the fretting over how she will make this work, over the length of her maternity leave, etc. News flash: one can do many things while pregnant, and one can do many things as the mother of a young child. You can, for instance, govern the state of Alaska and then be nominated for the vice presidency. You can run pretty seriously during pregnancy (as Paula Radcliffe did) and then win the NYC Marathon 10 months after giving birth. You can govern the Hapsburg Empire as Maria Theresa did in the 1700s as she gave birth 16 times. Over at Twitter, FeMOMhist suggested a hashtag called #ThingsIDidWhilePG. I wrote both of my most recent full-length books while pregnant, and turned in edits of the manuscripts shortly after giving birth.
That experience gives me a few thoughts on the folks who have pondered publicly how she’ll handle maternity leave (and the multitude of people who want to judge her for planning to work through it). Guess what? You can answer emails and take phone calls as the mother of an infant. Your fingers still work. So, incidentally, does your brain. Most of the time. I will give you that it sometimes doesn’t work well if you’ve been up multiple times at night. But one glance at some great CEO follies of recent years (Ken Lay?) shows that you don’t have to be a pregnant or postpartum woman for your brain not to work well in business situations.
Actually, as Lisa Belkin noted in her HuffPo piece on the topic, being the CEO is a great job for a mom of small kids. You have control of your time. You make everyone else work on your schedule. Scrambling up the ladder? That might be harder. But running things? That you can totally do while #PG.
In other news: I have a column in Tuesday’s USA Today on innovative ways to prevent power outages.