Marissa Mayer: Yahoo CEO’s Maternity Leave Decision Brings Out Critics

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced on her Tumblr Tuesday that she is pregnant with twin girls. Her announcement has created a firestorm, bringing out critics who are blasting her for taking a limited amount of time away for maternity leave.

Mayer, who became the Yahoo CEO in 2012 when she was six months pregnant with her first child, wrote on her Tumblr,

“I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout. I’ve shared the news and my plans with Yahoo’s Board of Directors and my executive team, and they are incredibly supportive and happy for me.”

With her son, the Yahoo CEO’s maternity leave lasted for two weeks. Already, those who believe the United States should have better maternity leave benefits have begun to criticize Mayer’s choice to return to work quickly.

Those who are critical of Mayer’s “limited” maternity leave believe the Yahoo CEO should take more time with her children and her family after her daughters are born — if, for nothing else, for the sake of mothers across the country.

According to Business Insider, who calls Mayer a “symbol for American working mothers,” Mayer is a “self-proclaimed workaholic …who famously sleeps only a few hours a night and doesn’t really believe in burnout.”

But while some have been critical of Mayer’s decision to take a shortened maternity leave, others have spoken out in support of Mayer. Bonnie Hunt of Hollywood Life, for example, wrote that Mayer should be able to do what Mayer believes is right for herself, her family, and her company where maternity leave is concerned.

“Despite Mayer’s best and very practical intentions her critics are lambasting her for setting a work commitment bar that’s impossible for most other women to achieve,” Hunt writes. “She’s accused of inadvertently putting pressure on other pregnant working women to also only take two weeks off.”

Hunt goes on to add that Mayer is part of a select few where female Fortune 500 CEO’s are concerned, and as such, the Yahoo CEO does live under a different set of circumstances than the average working mother.

“Let’s not forget that there are only 24 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies — an infinitesimal number — AND she’s trying to be a great CEO and a great mom. Cut her some slack! … While I agree that Mayer is setting a bar for herself that is unrealistic and undesirable for most women … she shouldn’t be criticized for doing what she has decided is her best solution. She wants to be with her baby girls as well to bond and probably breastfeed but she’s also totally aware of the needs of her own 11,400 employees and her $62 billion company. She’s tried to come up with her best solution to be a good mother and a good CEO. I’m sure that Marissa fully understands that her situation as a CEO company, earning $42 million a year, is not the same as most moms in America. And it’s not the same as her employees, either, including her very senior female employees. She’s not going to expect them to do as she plans to do.”

There are clearly people lining up on both sides of the Yahoo CEO’s maternity leave decision, but there are those who are not really on a side at all, too. For example, the Huffington Post argues that Mayer’s position, power, and resources make her lifestyle so different from the average American mother that the Yahoo CEO’s maternity leave isn’t even relevant in the maternity leave discussion.

What do you think? Do you think Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO, is taking enough maternity leave?

[Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images]