Posted by: lindseytate22 | March 30, 2016

Mother’s Intuition

I was very interested to learn more about Marissa Mayer after we watched the interview with her on Tuesday. I thought she had some really good ideas about how as a leader, she puts it on herself as a responsibility to check on her followers and see how they’re doing. I think it shows impressive collaboration to see that Mayer is reaching out to her followers and employees to see how they can work together to reach a solution in order to be more productive in the workplace.

With that said…

I found this Marissa Mayer Article that talks about Mayer in relation to maternity leave. As we all know, a spotlight is immediately cast on leaders, especially a woman leader for that matter, in our society today. Choosing to take maternal or paternal leave is unarguably a personal decision but because of the media, leaders are often scrutinized for what should be their private and personal decisions but instead are put out as headlines in order to draw attention or to draw some sort reaction.

The biggest realization that I took from this article and from our discussion as a class was that we need to remember that CEO moms and “regular” moms are nothing alike. CEO moms, or moms that have the option to either return or not return to work at their leisure are quite different from “regular” moms who may be somewhat forced to return to work, needing that income in order to support her growing family.

After announcing that her and her husband were expecting twins, Mayer also said that she would only be taking 2 weeks of maternity leave. The argument is, that after she herself expanded the company’s maternity leave policy, she isn’t even going to take the full amount herself. Is this sending her employees the right message? Is she “abusing” her power as a woman CEO leader, the fact that she can afford to quickly come back to work when other women wish they could but have to come back to work? Or, on the other hand, is she not spending enough time with her newborns, time that most mother’s crave during this exciting time.

What are your thoughts?

Personally, if in this situation, I would want to have as much time off as I can because newborns at this time are in such need of nurturing and care. However, as someone who loves the idea of working and being passionate about my future career, I would also be hesitant about being away for that long. I think when that time comes for me it will be hard and I hope to have a strong and supportive husband to help in that way! The beauty of balance is also something I strive for and I don’t think i’ll truly be able to know what that’s like until the time comes!

 

-Lindsey

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Responses

  1. I think it is a fine line she is walking by only taking two weeks maternity leave, and one interpretation is that if she is only taking two weeks, will her followers feel bad about only taking that much? The other interpretation is that she loves her job and wants to work hard at it, even with kids. I don’t know if either interpretation is super positive, but I do believe that in honor of Shonda Rhimes, we need to try and stay away from judging how she does motherhood. While to me, that does seem shocking that she is only taking two weeks time with her newborns, who am I to say that that is going to negatively affect her children and give them less than other mothers who stay home for longer? I don’t believe that there is one way to find balance, and I agree with you that we’ll never know how to make this choice until the time comes for us.

  2. I agree that CEO moms and regular moms are very different. A regular mom can’t just build a nursery next to their office. I also liked that you pointed out that she is setting a precedent at the company that although she gives X weeks of maternity leave it is suggested to use less. By only taking two weeks for herself it may appear she is being helpful, but in reality to many women it is not. There is no perfect balance and she every women the time to take off after birth is different. I hope to be in this situation myself as a working women who wants children. It is difficult to say now what I would want to do. I would love to stay home with them, but it depends where I am in my career and the support that I have. Thanks for getting us thinking Lindsey.

  3. It’s interesting to me that because she is one of 23 female CEOs in Fortune top 500 companies, that she along with the other 22 female CEOs are so harshly scrutinized. If she were the CEO of some startup or some middle level company, I have to believe we wouldn’t hear anything about how long of maternity leave she is taking. I think that gets back to the concept of tokenism. Because she is one of very few top CEOs, it is as if her decisions are the decisions we should all make or that they define what is right and what is wrong for all females (leaders or followers). We have to take her choices somewhat with a grain of salt. It goes back to her privilege. She has the ability to build a nursery right down the hall from her office, so that is what she did. That is part of the reason she only needs to take two weeks off, because when she’s back at work, her babies are there with her and she can easily walk down the hall if there is an issue. What one woman decides based on her specific situation cannot be the standard for everyone because we all have different situations. I also don’t think it’s fair to judge her decisions. We are all trying to live our lives the best way that works for us individually. Why does another woman’s choice have to create some overarching meaning for all of womankind?

  4. I can’t help but think about myself in her shoes. Sure, I personally want all the time in the world when I become a mother to stay at home with my newborn. But as the CEO of a major company, she has stuff to get done. The more time spent away from work, the more time there is more confusion and getting behind. I don’t think that she’s setting the wrong example for her employees, she just has a higher power/stress job which requires more time and effort than those below her. I think that those below her, and those who are not under her (us) see it admirable that she is able to just take a 2 week maternity leave, but just because she only took 2 weeks, doesn’t mean that she expects others to only take 2 weeks. We all have our personal values and what we think is the right amount of time for leave! This is so interesting to think about, this is a real world problem that most of us haven’t had to deal with or even think about. Thank you for sharing this!

  5. Honestly the whole maternity leave debate angers me with all the comparisons made. I agree with Rhimes that there is not one way a perfect mother should look because there is not a perfect world or family situation. The way one woman chooses to raise her children may make her fulfilled in her life and her parenting but would not do the same for another mother, and that’s okay. I think there should have been more rejoicing from women about Mayer extending the maternity leave policy and less complaining that she chose not to utilize it. People’s values align differently and that’s what make these multinational corporations work.

  6. We have talked alot about mothering styles and if even having children is something that people want. I believe that having children is a personal choice and so is deciding how long to be on leave once those children are introduced. To me, everyone should be able to spend as much time as they want to with their newborn children however this is not always possible. Sometimes women feel pressure to return to work quickly because they feel like they will be replaced or out of the loop if gone for too long. I think this is how Mayer felt. On the other side of the coin however are the mothers who have to return to work because of financial reasons. It ma not be an option for most to stay home with the children for 6 months. Additionally, it is up to each individual to define their own version of success. To some that may be working and being a parent, or doing one or the other. I say letting people decide for themselves is the best policy.

  7. I think this is an interesting topic for us since we are all in the stage right now before starting our careers and possibly starting families. I find it very interesting that she extended the company’s maternal leave and yet she was not going to take full advantage of that time. I understand her feeling that she must be at work and do her job because she was going to be scrutinized any way that she went about her maternity leave. However, I think it would be better for her to use that full length of maternity leave so that it is known by her employees and the public that as a mother she should be able to take that whole time without feeling guilty. Also, I think it sends the wrong message to her employees that she did not use up all of her maternity leave. It shows them that to keep their job and not be scrutinized, they have to sacrifice their allotted time just like she did.

  8. Wow, only two weeks?! I would take as much time as possible! I have mixed views on whether or not she SHOULD take as much time as she can, however. Obviously, she is the CEO so she has a significant amount of work that she has to do and accomplish every day. Maybe she only CAN take two weeks and that is in the best interest of the entire company. On the flip side, her employees may feel as though if she isn’t taking two weeks, they shouldn’t either. Also, it could be used as leverage against them by superiors who could say “The CEO only took 2 weeks, why do YOU need 2 months?” I have mixed feelings on what I think she should do just because she is the CEO and a role model for the entire company but regardless, I am still shocked that she is declaring she only needs two weeks.

  9. This is such a hard situation to be in, and I don’t think any of us would know exactly what to do in her place. It seems either way women lose in this situation, either being apart from children or apart from the they have fought so hard for. It just goes back to the idea of changing the culture rather than picking one side. If the culture was changed so that maternal and paternal leave was valued at the same level as it should, we wouldn’t need to pick a side. It shouldn’t be a such a competitive issue of who took more time or didn’t.

  10. Right, this situation is a sticky topic.
    I honestly don’t think that she should have felt any sort of pressure to stay at home for longer than 2 weeks. However, I also think that as a leader she should have put more thought into her decision to cut her own maternity leave short.
    Leaders set expectations. And by doing it yourself, you are setting a bar for the other women at the organization to feel that they need to cut their own leave short.
    This feeling, as we have talked about, can lead to an incredible amount of resentment and anger at a workplace. Feeling like your organization does not respect your needs to be a mother and to be there for your newborns can lead to a lot of unhappiness.
    I do think that Mayer should have thought about that a little bit more before making her decision.

  11. Maternity leave is such a hot topic right now. I shared the UN investigation a couple weeks ago in my blog post, which reported that the United States ranks in the lower-middle grouping of country’s maternity leave standards. However stems from the laws that govern maternity leave, because we are talking about 50% of a population and each person has a different job and different requirements and different expectations. Mrs. Mayer here only takes two weeks and then comes back to work, but what they don’t tell you is she built a child care facility right next to her office where her child is cared for and she can check in at any time. This is the CEO group, who have the money and power to essentially do what they need to do to remain good mothers while remaining at the helm of their company. The middle group are the women that truly benefit from maternity leave; they get the time off, they spend time with their new child, and then at the end of the time, you are back to work. They obviously always wish for more, but they have to go back to work and support their share of the family income. The last and lowest group are the women that work in a factory or for a very large corporation. The law guarantees them a certain amount of time off after giving birth to recover and spend some time with the baby, but money does not grow on trees and they must be able to pay the bills, so one or two days after getting out of the hospital, these women are back on the assembly lines. They may not even be aware of the rights American women have, but they have got to make all the money they can so that they can bring their family to the US or to some other special place. I would also like to point out that the guys are being left completely out of it. I remember my freshman year of high school, my biology teacher had saved all of his sick days and vacation days in order to take a 5 week vacation at the end of the year and called it paternity leave. As a man, I too hope to have some time to spend with my wife and child upon the birth and directly following the birth. I am just trying to show that comparisons don’t work and the men and the women at the top need to recognize that not all moms are in the same boat. There are a lot of different boats, all of various sizes and shapes, which means a maternity plan that fits everyone is impossible, but it at least needs to help most women.


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