Marissa Mayer Shouldn’t Be Criticized For Building An Office Nursery

Tue, February 26, 2013 6:46pm EST by 22 Comments

Can critics please give the new female CEO of Yahoo! a break? She should be applauded for bringing her baby to work!

Yahoo! CEO and new mom Marissa Mayer is unfairly under fire for building a nursery next to her office so she can bring her four-month-old son, Macallister, to the office.

The controversy erupted right now because 37-year-old Mayer has issued a new directive ending the practice of Yahoo! employees working from home.

Employees are griping that it’s unfair that Mayer can bring her baby to the office, while they can’t work from home regularly and take care of their own kids at the same time.

While I understand the outrage when a fairly-new CEO — Mayer joined Yahoo! on July 16, 2012 — changes a long-standing policy, I don’t think her baby nursery and the working-from-home policy should be linked.

The Sexism Began When She Did

Mayer after all, has faced sexist criticism from the moment her appointment was announced.

That was because she was five months pregnant when she took on the tough assignment of heading up the $3.94 billion revenue company.

Critics lashed out simply because she was pregnant, and they wondered how she could shoulder the responsibility of leading a major corporation while carrying and giving birth to a baby. Like women haven’t handled tons of responsibility while pregnant, before.

Women, shockingly, were especially harsh.

“We all applaud her, but she’s superhuman, rich, and in charge,” responded Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University and author of a much-discussed piece for Atlantic Monthly, “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”

Marissa Mayer isn’t “really a realistic role model for hundreds of thousands of women who are trying to figure out how you make it to the top AND have a family at the same time.,”Slaughter contended.

Men Far Outnumber Women As CEOS

Well, instead of insulting Mayer by saying she’s “superhuman,” and not a “realistic” role model, and criticizing her for paying for a nursery at her own expense, we SHOULD be applauding her.

She is one of only 42 female CEOs in the Fortune 1,000 biggest revenue companies. Did you get that — 42 out of 1,000?

There are so few female CEOs of large companies, we shouldn’t be slagging any of them, let alone dissing Mayer for first being pregnant, and second, for trying to be close to her baby.

Mayer took the responsibility of her position so seriously, she only took two weeks of maternity leave, and I doubt that she ever stopped actually working, except for the few hours she was giving birth.

Now, her office nursery is her solution to being on top and having a family at the same time. If Marissa were a man who wanted to be a deeply involved father to his newborn and built a nursery next to his office, wouldn’t people — especially women — be swooning over his commitment to fatherhood?

Would A Man Be Criticized For Trying To Combine Being A CEO With Fatherhood?

Would he be pilloried for having an unfair advantage over other workers, because he was a wealthy CEO and in a power position?

I doubt it!

I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a male CEO described as a “superhuman” in a derogatory way. Men don’t criticize male CEOs for being rich and powerful; they admire them. They genuinely see them as role models.

While I realize that most female Yahoo! employees can’t set up a nursery next to their desks, I also doubt most would be willing to take a mere two weeks of maternity leave like Marissa did. And would most be willing to work her unending hours, no doubt, seven days a week?

Mayer’s nursery — which, I repeat, she paid for herself — probably is her only reasonable solution to being able to hold, nurture and possibly breastfeed her son, while also fulfilling the responsibilities of running Yahoo!

Yes, her solution isn’t available to most women at most companies, but we need to accept that Mayer is in a very unique position — she is a CEO of a huge company.

Why She’s A Role Model

Mayer is not the same as most female workers and that’s why she is a role model. She has reached a major leadership position through her own hard work, intelligence and achievements at the young, childbearing age of 37. Many, many women throughout the country are working toward doing the same thing.

Now, if there are going to be other Marissa Mayers — young women promoted to CEO at major corporations, there will have to be some special concessions, like being able to bring their babies to work.

And what I don’t know is whether her own experience as a new mother will lead Mayer to make arrangements for other new mothers at Yahoo! to bring their own babies to work. We’ll see.

In the meantime, Mayer is doing her best to lead her company in new policies, to achieve growth, which will benefit all her employees.

So, let’s — especially women — stop criticizing her for doing her best to have a family and a fulfilling career, as so many of us are trying to do!

Do you agree, HollywoodLifers? Let me know and vote below!

– Bonnie Fuller

More Marissa Mayer News:

  1. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer: Please Don’t Minimize Being A Working Mom
  2. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer: Having A Baby Is ‘Easier’ Than I Thought
  3. Marissa Mayer Returns To Yahoo Two Weeks After Baby — Too Soon?

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Posted at 12:43 PM on July 30, 2013  

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Roger Enright

Posted at 7:14 AM on May 9, 2013  

Oh, booohooohooo, Bonnie Fuller. Your whole angle with this article strikes me as sexist, since you seem to be going out of your way to make it seem like Marissa Mayer should be “above criticism” simply by way of being female. Welcome to the “real” world. If you can’t stand the heat….

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Posted at 11:21 AM on April 26, 2013  

I did not pay much attention to the whole ban work from home thing initially. I just figured another CEO trying something new for a company. I think most people would have left it at that. What angered me was when I heard she used up yahoo office space to put her own nersery. I am sure most people in yahoo would be happy pay for a nursery if yahoo provided them with an individual office space, and where they can bring their nanny to work. She just told everyone that her kid is more important that other’s kids. At work she might have a higher rank than other employees and she gets an office while others dont – that is fine. WHat is not fine is her kid getting floor space while other’s kid’s not getting floor space in yahoo. WHile she is higher up than others in yahoo, her kid is not higher up than kids of other employees. The hierarchy applies to employees no their kids. In fact if her kid has a whole office in yahoo, putting a day care for others is not the same. SHe would have to give the option to all employees to get an individual office floor space where they can bring their nannies. For people who don’t want to hire an individual nanny, she can put a day care in the office building. Now that would be fair.

The other option she had for being fair would be to say that if people work from home, they cannot be doing childcare at the same time. In other words, there should be someone else to provide for the child if they are working from home. That would have been perfectly acceptable and fair.

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Posted at 1:54 PM on March 21, 2013  

Wouldn’t it set a better example to build a nursery for Yahoo employees’ children? Until then, I consider her a hypocrite. We would all take a 2 week maternity leave if we had her resources and options, but we don’t, so touting her as a “role model” is ridiculous. Is she making a business decision based on Yahoo’s abuse of the work from home policy? Yes. Does she really care about her employees’ circumstances based on this decree? Questionable. Will Yahoo actually be around much longer? Hmm…

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Posted at 5:31 PM on February 28, 2013  

How are the two issues NOT linked?

I myself have worked from home when sick kids were involved. Yes, partially because I DO NOT have a private nursery at work.

Yeah, it’s great when you can make your own rules. However, when you have to work and you have children, as well as do not have a private nursery at your work place, the ability to work from home, is a benefit for everyone. Perhaps Ms. Mayer is judging the situation a little too close to home? Just because she engages in gross abuse of position, does not mean necessarily, that all employees working from home with sick children are doing the same thing.

Yahoo started going down hill a long time ago. Pull stunts like this, is certainly not going to endear them to ANYONE.

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Posted at 10:35 AM on February 28, 2013  

She’s a role model because at 37 she’s a CEO of Yahoo. But she’s not super human and it’s not realistic. A 2 week Maternity Leave should not be applauded it should be criticized. I’ve ha 2 children and was not ready to go back to work at 2 weeks. So what if she paid for the nursery to be built its still on company grounds therefore the company is still paying for the heat, hot water and electricity for it. What she should have done was end the policy and build a nursery or day care for all employees. What happens to the other breastfeeding moms who are use to being at home? Just because she’s CEO doesn’t mean that there should be different rules for her. Can the other employees bring their kids to work with them.

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Reah G. Sandberg (@reahguevarra)

Posted at 11:51 PM on February 27, 2013  

“She is one of only 42 female CEOs in the Fortune 1,000 biggest revenue companies. Did you get that — 42 out of 100?”

It should say 42 out of 1000.

Anyway, I admire her courage.

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Posted at 8:12 PM on February 27, 2013  

You’re a fool to act like these two issues are linked.

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Posted at 8:14 PM on February 27, 2013  

Should have read “are not linked”

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Melette Evans

Posted at 7:34 PM on February 27, 2013  

I agree with the comments below. This is just another example of “rank having its priviledges”, and “doing what I say, not what I do”. Mayer worked from home herself during the last weeks of her pregnancy, and now she is saying that is not allowed for others? There are plenty of people who work just as long and hard at their jobs as Mayer does; they just don’t get paid the millions of dollars that Mayer gets paid to do it. There is nothing about her or her behaviour to be applauded. This is absolutely disgusting!

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Posted at 1:57 PM on February 27, 2013  

This is not a sexist issue, it’s a fairness issue. If she wants her employees to be in the office away from home then she needs to lead by example. If she is bringing “home to work” then perhaps provide a day care at the yahoo offices for her employees.

In regards to the policy, I’m sure ( at least I hope ) she did her research first. Maybe she found that productivity was low and there needed to be a change. Perhaps she can put this into place now and see how it goes, perhaps in the future she can reinstate WAH.

In a way, it seems like she’s putting work before her family ( a little unhealthy in my opinion). I hope she has some balance in her life.

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Posted at 1:37 PM on February 27, 2013  

Since when is 37 a young age at which to bear children? She should take her FMLA like everybody else and suck it up. This article is ridiculous. One of the best ways to balance work and family is to have a WFH arrangement and she just pulled it out from underneath her employees. I’d love to know if an employee wanted to build an in-office nursery at their own expense (write-off, by the way) if she would let them.

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Purple Triangle

Posted at 9:50 AM on February 27, 2013  

She and Yahoo! might be sued for discrimination if they don’t extend the same benefits to other mothers.

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K. King

Posted at 9:40 AM on February 27, 2013  

Applauded?..are you out of your mind? Are you saying that most female workers are not intelligent and are not capable of achievement? Ms. Fuller, I think you are full of yourself and does not have a clue if life. Are you living in a fantasy world? You are worthy to write any article.
That nursery should be banned and let us see how she feels.

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Posted at 10:29 AM on February 28, 2013  

That nursery will be a distraction to her work and reduce her efficiency.

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Posted at 7:37 AM on February 27, 2013  

So…you know this poll is impossible to answer, right? “Is it right or wrong, yes or no?”

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Posted at 8:21 PM on February 26, 2013  

I don’t think this move should be applauded. There are yahoo employees who work from home in-order to be able to care for their children. Is she offering those employees the opportunity to bring their children into the office or will they have to find day care alternatives that do not allow them to see their children through out the day? I don’t think this falls into a sexist debate but it should fall into a fairness debate.

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Posted at 7:30 PM on February 26, 2013  

If a male CEO were to build a nursery in his office AND change the work-from-home policy at his INTERNET company, then yes, I think he should be criticized too. We should be “applauding” her? Give me a break. Are you two friends or something?

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Carolina Garcia

Posted at 8:53 PM on February 26, 2013  

I agree that this falls into a fairness category. Those employees who work from home to be more available for their children should also have the option of bringing their children to work. Or remain in their home offices

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