POLL: Can Silicon Valley Women Have it All?

The Yahoo Board of Directors knew about former Google exec Marissa Mayer's pregnancy when they hired her. But how does this affect other women?

Monday afternoon Yahoo dropped a bomb that shook up Silicon Valley and Wall Street.

The struggling Sunnyvale company , an influential employee in the Mountain View company's growth over the 13 years she worked for them, and appointed her CEO and President. According to Forbes, only about 20 Fortune 500 companies have a female CEO.

On Tuesday, Mayer herself dropped another bomb—she was six months pregnant, the Yahoo Board of Directors knew and hired her anyways, and that she planned to work through her pregnancy and get back to work soon after her delivery.

The news has received mixed reactions.

It appears as though Mayer is in a class by herself with this announcement. TechCrunch says Mayer may be "the first ever pregnant CEO of a Fortune 500 tech company" and calls the announcement "trailblazing." While another power woman in tech, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, is also a working mother, her kids are a little older. Nevertheless, Sandberg has been vocal about what it's like to be a working mom in tech. She made news in April when she said "there's no such thing as work-life balance" -- but noted she makes a point of being home for dinner with her family after work.

On the other hand on KQED's Forum Wednesday morning the guest lauded Yahoo's commitment to families and women in the workplace, but cautioned women that Mayer's situation is very unique because of her education, socio-economic status and the flexible work culture in Silicon Valley.

However, a comment on Forum's site from a 31-year-old female engineer at a Silicon Valley startup didn't think that if she had children should would be as lucky.

"I can't leave at 5:30 every day or even take a 2 week vacation guilt free," said Vanessa. "The Facebook and now this Yahoo situation have been brought up often as examples of how Silicon Valley is changing it's model to be family friendly, but I feel exactly the opposite. Silicon Valley will be family friendly when these things aren't even news."

So is Vanessa right? Is the Silicon Valley culture hard on women who choose to have children?

Does Marissa Mayer create undue expectations for other women? Can women have it all?


Additional reporting by Stephanie Rivera of Lynwood Patch.

Claudia Cruz (Editor) July 18, 2012 at 11:50 PM
As a reporter nowadays, at least in my company, it's more manageable to take care of a child since I work at home. However, many women might night be as fortunate.
lillian hinchcliff July 19, 2012 at 05:00 PM
As recently as early 20th century nurses were forbidden to marry and to have children. In that light SV is not hard on women having children. With enough money nannies can be hired. Women with the finances of Mayer can typically satisfy their maternal urges without interfering with their jobs. For poor women that don't have access to nannies and outside help, children interfere with attendance and performance and employer build resentment towards them.
randy albin July 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM
in the silicon valley, what difference does any of this make? just do the best that you can, as usual. try to help one another instead of haggling around with each other


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