Christine Park

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

One step forward or two steps back?

(Paul Zimmerman/Getty Images)

Marissa Mayer was just named Yahoo's new CEO. The working woman in me says, "YAY! A female in a high-profile, powerful position is a great role model for us." Then I learned in an article today, she's 7 months pregnant. And again I say, "YAY! A high-profile, powerful woman balancing work AND family is even better!"

The article goes on to say Mayer's pregnancy was not an issue to the company's board:
"Yahoo's decision reflects a change in a business environment once inhospitable to mothers and women expecting children."

"Imagine that," I thought, "Mayer is shaking things up inside Silicon Valley's boys club." TechCrunch says Mayer may be "the first ever pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 tech company" and calls the announcement "trailblazing."

But then I read on to see that Mayer plans on working through her maternity leave and returning to the office a few short weeks of having her son. UGH. No. How is this progress? As any new mother knows, maternity is an essential time to bond with your baby, enjoy your baby, and figure out how to be a mother. Things like breastfeeding, sleep training, and diaper changing don't always come naturally to us, as some might believe. So to cut this time short, is to short-change herself and her baby. Yet she obviously feels enormous pressure to hit the ground running and prove to her new bosses that indeed, as they stated, pregnancy isn't a factor. But it is! It changes everything. And we working moms need someone to publicly acknowledge that. Not treat it is a side diversion, a mere bump in the road.

Which brings me to Annie-Marie Slaughter's piece in The Atlantic: "Why Women Can't Have it All." In it she writes:
"It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. "

I'm none of the above. It's a devastating realization LOL. But in all seriousness, as I get older, I am realizing there is no such thing as having it all. In my 20's I looked up to careerwomen like myself who seemed to have achieved a perfect work-life balance. But now that I'm in their shoes, I know that we are always making sacrifices. A year into my promotion, I relish a more high-profile position and normal 9 to 5 schedule. But during the week my kids are being raised by everyone else but me. The guilt is constant. I used to look at SAHMs and think, that's definitely not for me. But now I eye them wistfully, wishing I could be the one accompanying my daughter to field trips and teaching my son how to count to 100.

I wish Marissa Mayer the best of luck, and I want to see her succeed in her new role. I want her to have it all. But I want her to succeed as a mother too. She may not be self-employed, but she's probably superhuman and above all, rich... so she already has an edge over me.

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