Marissa Mayer: The New Hope?

Marissa Mayer
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Like many, I’ve been following Marissa Mayer’s story upon her hire as CEO of Yahoo – as the first woman ever take the top position while pregnant. I remember all too well what it was like when I interviewed for a position while pregnant for my first child. It was still in the time where if I’d revealed my “delicate condition”, I wouldn’t be hired.

I did get the job, but working full-time and raising my daughter was no simple task. Excellent childcare was tough to come by so I settled for “adequate” and prayed it would be enough. I raced there every day at lunch to nurse her and raced back after work to nurse her before heading home. Vacation days were saved so they could be spent holding my sick little one and praying for the Tylenol to bring down the fever. I’m not telling a story that’s any different than any other working mom out there. Of course, I didn’t have millions in the bank to pay for private care, and flex time was simply unheard of back then (by the way, my beautiful bouncing baby girl is 21 now).

Still, times have changed, haven’t they? Not so much – according to Women’s Health USA 2011, published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 2006–2008, 65.9 percent of women reported being employed during their last pregnancy, of which 70.6 percent reported taking maternity leave. This indicates that nearly one-third of employed women did not report taking any maternity leave (29.4 percent). Of the roughly 70 percent that did take that leave, 33.1 percent did not have any portion of their maternity leave paid. Only 24.9 percent of women reported paid maternity leave for more than 2 months (9 or more weeks). That covers just the first few months of life. Untold millions of women struggle with how to make a decent living and still be a good mom every single day.

Some also doubt Marissa’s ability to find the balance between work and family. In a recent Forbes article, Deborah Kolb, author of women’s leadership book Her Place at the Table, states, “There is something about motherhood. When you have a first child, it changes your life in some way. It changes how you think about yourself. I don’t know how prepared she is.”

Now dubbed by some as “the poster child for working mothers”, Marissa faces an even bigger challenge than turning around a faltering tech company. She will be under terrible scrutiny to prove Anne-Marie Slaughter wrong in her assessment that women still can’t have it all. She will be expected to have a perfect home, a perfect family, and turn the faltering caterpillar that is Yahoo into a butterfly.

I don’t envy her position. But I sure am rooting for her. Why? Because my daughter deserves to have it all. And so does yours.

Michelle Coe is a freelance graphic designer with over 20 years experience designing for print and web. The original post can be viewed at

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