Opinion Brief

Yahoo's Marissa Mayer: The debate over her brief maternity leave

Yahoo's recently minted boss just gave birth to her first child, but boiling under the huzzahs is a heated fight over her decision to take a shortened after-birth break

Yahoo's recently appointed CEO Marissa Mayer gave birth to her first child, a baby boy, on Sunday night — "and so begins the most scrutinized maternity leave in business history," says Jonathan Anker at HLN. After working right up to childbirth, Mayer, 37, is sticking to her plan to take only a week or two of leave before returning to the office, and working from home until then. This has reignited a heated debate about motherhood, family leave, feminism, and the provocative question raised in The Atlantic by Anne-Marie Slaughter: Can women "have it all"? Is it fair to ask if Mayer's decision to skimp on maternity leave is right for her, her family, and women?

Two weeks of maternity leave is nuts: Congratulations to Mayer and her husband on the birth of their first child, but taking just a week or two to bond with her baby "just plain sucks," says Joanna Mazewski at Babble. "Sorry, but no salary or quest for equality is more important than being with your newborn child when they need their mother the most." Then there's the question of what she hopes to accomplish: Between spiking hormones and sleepless nights, "it took a few good weeks, if not months, to get my brain functioning back to normal" after birth.
"Yeah, this sucks: Yahoo CEO... will return to work in two weeks

Leave Marissa alone: Yes, Mayer, "welcome to the world of motherhood — and eternal judgment," says S. Mitra Kalita at Quartz. I worked through the birth of my two children, "partly for the money, mostly for my mind," and because "it's what successful women do." Still, any flak I got from the "Mom Judges" pales next to this: So much for "all the truce-calling in the Mommy Wars." My guess is that Mayer's "decision to take a few weeks of leave was driven by actually wanting to turn the company around," and if that's how she chooses to run the "complicated ventures" of mothering and Yahoo, that's her business.
"Letter to... Marissa Mayer: It's OK to go back to work right away — I did"

Maybe Mayer can teach us something: Most of the backlash stems from fears that Mayer's truncated maternity leave will set a bad precedent in a system already stacked against working mothers, says Meredith Turits at Glamour. We'll have to watch and see how she, and Yahoo, deals with her inevitable struggles balancing work and mothering — "as much of a superwoman as Mayer is, she's still human," after all. As she juggles her competing roles, "I hope she'll speak to it, especially while her voice is so influential." As for how her little boy will fare: "Nobel Prize in 10 years? I'm putting money on it."
"Mayer's baby boy is here! And the motherhood work-life juggle begins..."

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