Gini Dietrich

Marissa Mayer: Why Are We Still Having this Conversation?

By: Gini Dietrich | July 19, 2012 | 

I have a question. Why are so many journalists and bloggers writing with advice for Marissa Mayer?

Risking the fact that you might be tired of the “women rule” trip I’m on lately, I really want to know what the heck is going on.

If this were a 37-year-old man whose wife was pregnant, we wouldn’t be talking about this. In fact, it would be a non-story, other than the fifth CEO in five years has joined Yahoo! and Wall Street is paying attention.

They might wonder why he hadn’t attended the earnings call on his first day. That could have been a story. And, certainly, coming from Google is a story.

But it wouldn’t be about his gender, his age, the fact that he and his wife are expecting, or even how he feels about burnout and whether or not it’s naive.

No one would give him advice, as it compares to Carly Fiorina’s “failure” at HP. No one would be talking about the “glass cliff” he’s on (do you know this term? It’s going to make you angry). No one would be giving him advice about taking leave after the baby arrives. And certainly no one would be putting the work/life balance discussion squarely on his shoulders by saying,

Women and girls the world over are looking to you to inspire, set trends in the workplace, and establish what it means to be a young working mom helming a Fortune 500 company.

Is this really 2012? Or have we stepped into a time warp?

Yahoo!, the once Internet darling, isn’t faring so well, and it may take longer than five years to undo what her predecessors have left in their wake. There may be some sour apples that interim CEO, Ross Levinsohn, didn’t get the job. And, according to reports, the culture is in dire need of fixing.

All of these things would be there no matter who took over the helm.

I wish her the best of luck in her new job. I hope she’s not on a glass cliff, but has success at Yahoo!.

That’s the conversation we should be having in a year – what she’s doing to turn around the company; not her age, her new baby, or her gender.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • belllindsay

    Well said @ginidietrich !!! All the online chatter about this woman is kinda making me sick. She’s either going to succeed. Or not. Get off the “gender/mom/superwoman” bandwagon everyone, please. 

    •  @belllindsay It’s really bothering me. At first I kind of laughed it off and now I’m actually pissed.

      • belllindsay

         @ginidietrich Next post, how she gets her lovely blonde bob to be so lovely and blonde and bob’y…!?!? 

        •  @belllindsay And so shiny?

        • belllindsay

           @ginidietrich It’s a look you really should aspire to Gini. Who knows, maybe YOU can be a CEO one day too!! Wait. Never mind. 

        •  @belllindsay Ha! I’m cool with being CEO of my own little organization. While I’d love to change this conversation at a higher level, I’m not sure I could take all the “news” that is being written about her. I’m sure there would be tears a few times a day.

        • belllindsay

           @ginidietrich Yeah, I mean, we joke, but I can’t fathom her life right now. I like being the little fish, thank you very much! 😀 

        •  @belllindsay  @ginidietrich Could one of you two get me a sandwich? I’m starved.

        •  @KenMueller  @belllindsay Lindsay, do you want to hit him first?

        • belllindsay

           @ginidietrich  @KenMueller Right in the shins. Wearing my Docs. 😉

        •  @belllindsay  @ginidietrich a shin kick? What’s a guy gotta do around here to get punched in the face? Man, your husband must have REALLY done something stupid.

  • margieclayman

    Just wrote a post for next week along these same lines and conversed about it yesterday. There are more articles about her wedding from a few years ago than about how she might perform as CEO. It’s highly disturbing.

    •  @margieclayman And about how she dated Larry Page 12 or 13 years ago. WHO CARES?! Can she run the company? That’s all we should care about.

      • belllindsay

         @ginidietrich  @margieclayman HAHA I was gonna mention that one – the inference being, of course, that she only advanced at Google because of who she was in bed with. AARRGGHH!! 

        •  @belllindsay  @margieclayman Oh yeah. Because that’s how we get ahead. We sleep our way to the top.

        •  @ginidietrich  @belllindsay  @margieclayman I guess her Page Rank ain’t what it used to be…

        • belllindsay

           @ginidietrich  @margieclayman HAHA! Right!? 

  • I knew you were going to rail on about this. Gender politics never cease to amaze me, especially when it comes to business. 

    •  @jasonkonopinski I wasn’t going to write about it and then I read another “advice” piece last night and I lost it. 

  • JCMorganKreidel

    People seem to love horrifying pregnant under the guise of “advice,” from re-telling tales of three-day long labor to tips on how to get by on less sleep to when you throw in the towel and just stay home. The fact that she’s pregnant should be at most an interesting footnote, not yet another arrow in the so-called Mommy Wars. Enough already!

    •  @JCMorganKreidel Did you see the one article that told her which kind of robe to keep in her “go” bag? Give me a freaking break. Let her lead the company.

      • JCMorganKreidel

        @ginidietrich I’d like to see an article about what shoes to have in her “kick butt” bag.

        •  @JCMorganKreidel  I’ll bet they’re Jimmy Choos. 🙂

  • All I care about is whether or not she can right a sinking ship. And if she can’t, I hope people base their assessment on what she does or doesn’t do, not that she wasn’t up to the task because of all the things they are talking about.
    That’s one job I wouldn’t want, that’s for sure.

    • belllindsay

       @KenMueller That’s *exactly* what they’re going to say “See, *that’s* why you never hire pregnant women!” 

      •  @belllindsay She should punch them all in the face and break their noses!

        • belllindsay

           @KenMueller I would. 😉

      •  @belllindsay  @KenMueller It’s that glass cliff phenomenon. I’m going to be really angry again in a year, aren’t I?

        •  @ginidietrich  @belllindsay You should show them by getting pregnant and taking AD to the Fortune 500!

        •  @KenMueller  @belllindsay Well…I can do one of those two things. The other one God won’t let me do. He has other plans, I guess.

        •  @ginidietrich  @belllindsay aw geez

        •  @KenMueller  Kelly wants to adopt a basketball team. At once. So I could do it non-conventionally. And SHOW THEM! 

        •  @ginidietrich Maybe you can be LeBron’s new mom

        •  @KenMueller Um. No.

        •  @ginidietrich Trust me. He needs a mom to set him straight. You could do it.

        •  @KenMueller He needs someone to set him straight.

  • thebrandbuilder

    New crime: Being CEO while not white, old and male.

    • belllindsay

       @thebrandbuilder Best is, if she already *had* children, they’d be railing about what a bad mom she was for being an uppity, hard working CEO! ;D 

      •  @belllindsay  @thebrandbuilder There hasn’t been nearly enough written on the fact that Google lost employee #20.  

    •  @thebrandbuilder Oh the shame!

  • Ugh. I was willfully ignorant of this, then I just kept hearing about how she was pregnant I tuned in a bit as I was confused. Why is this the conversation and not the whole Google thing? And I had not heard glass cliff, and yes I am now very irritated.  I can’t even say more without ranting. 

    •  @RebeccaTodd I have been getting more and more angry all week. So I did rant (as you can see).

      • belllindsay

         @ginidietrich  @RebeccaTodd I’m such a dork. I’m embarrassed to say that when I read your post Gini, I thought it said “GRASS cliff” – hahahaha!! Which is more interesting frankly – brings in the ‘homefront’ angle, perfect for a new mom/CEO! 😉

        •  @belllindsay  @ginidietrich Hah grass cliff. Gold. 

        •  @belllindsay  @RebeccaTodd And then I panicked and thought that’s what I wrote.

      •  @ginidietrich I lost count of how many comments I deleted on the last post about having it all. I was out of control.  

        • belllindsay

           @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich I know. Hard to hold back on issues like this. 

        •  @belllindsay  @ginidietrich Don’t even get me started on gaslighting!!!

        •  @RebeccaTodd LOL!! That actually makes me very, very happy.

        •  @ginidietrich Remind me to tell you about my last night on the road in San Diego last fall…

        •  @RebeccaTodd Oh I can’t wait to hear!

  • I think many people have an emotional interest in wishing Yahoo! succeeds — it identifies strongly as a product that’s been there throughout the story arc of the browser-based internet. So in a way, I sense the “advice,” as overbearing and at times unprofessional as it seems, is a reflection of this connection to Yahoo and its umbrella of products. Plus a sense that Mayer — or whomever was chosen to play CEO — symbolizes the last great hope to a tired shareholder base. And, oh yeah, lazy journalism — her work is cut out for her so its all too easy to spell that out.

    •  @andysternberg I agree with you, to a certain extent. But the “advice” wouldn’t be as prevalent as it is if it were a man. If they’d announced Levinsohn had the role permanently, do you really think these stories would be all over the place? I mean, they’re talking about what to put in her hospital go bag and which shoes she should wear to board meetings. Give me a break.

      • @ginidietrich male CEOs are boring and don’t wear heels? I dont recall Carol Bartz receiving so much advice but then again she never seemed very open to it. Mayer was Google #20, is pregnant and, I dunno… *short attention span* #linkbait

  • I wonder if they knew she was pregnant before offering her the job; you can still ask that, right? 
    The sooner we get to ability based merit and promotion regardless of age, sex, color, religion, etc then that would be a pretty good place to be. HOWEVER, and even though strides have been made, there are just too many factors involved to always make it entirely a level playing field. 
    Rant on………..I did have something else ‘smart’ to add but seeing how this is a hot button for you and we are pals, I’m smart enough to take my ‘funny’ somewhere else……..:). 

    •  @bdorman264 They did know. She told them in her second interview. And we’re certainly never going to have a level playing field as long as we’re more concerned about giving her maternity leave advice than letting her run the company.

      •  @ginidietrich I agree with what you’re saying 100%. I just have one question about the process – if she had not gotten the job after telling them she was pregnant, wouldn’t she have had an airtight legal case with which to sue Yahoo out of existence?
        Actually, my fiancé asked me that and I was stumped. So I’m asking you!

        •  @John Fitzgerald I don’t know what the law states…I know if she hadn’t told them during her interviews, she could be in big trouble once starting her new job. But I don’t know if it’s a fireable offense…or one that can be sued for not getting a job. There are a gazillion reasons you could not get a job…or at least they could claim so.

        •  @ginidietrich Interesting. I was under the impression that an employer cannot, under any circumstances, ask personal questions pertaining to marital or family status. If that’s true, then she wouldn’t have been in any trouble at all by not telling them.

        •  @ginidietrichFound it, thanks to Google:

        •  @John Fitzgerald Right…it prevents them from using the pregnancy as the reason for not hiring her. But, if they had two or three other viable candidates in the interview process and they didn’t hire her, it would be hard to prove it was because she is pregnant. Unfortunately.

      •  @ginidietrich I was kidding………you can’t ask that and even I am smart enough to know NEVER to ask ‘when are you due?’

  • Ike

    For the record, Yahoo! is still quite profitable. It’s not Growing, but it’s not declining either.
    It just needs to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. Right now, it’s a chimera of platypus parts.

  • debdobson62

    Gini, I’ve stopped reading the articles.  They all do make me sick.  The first one I read I sighed and thought wow, that journalist is being the times.  Sadly enough the articles kept coming and it just makes me very angry.  Focusing on the hospital go bag, who she dated, none of this is relevant to her track record in leadership, what she accomplished at Google, what Google is losing by her changing companies, what the previous four CEOs have done/not done at Yahoo, Yahoo’s history, current state…..for some reason, I see a lot of potential angles to this story, not fixating on gender, pregnancy, dating….

    • debdobson62

      Being=behind….typos when pissed.

    •  @debdobson62 I agree wholeheartedly! I wasn’t going to write this. In fact, I wrote it to get it out of my system and then let it sit. But I was still angry when I came back to it so decided to publish it. I want things to change. I’ll do my piece in making sure they do.

  • danielnewmanUV

    I’m interested in seeing how it turns out.  If Yahoo turns around under her leadership this conversation will be a non-starter.  If it doesn’t, then this doesn’t really matter and may not have been worth the energy we spent on it.
    The bottom line here is the bottom line.
    Yahoo finally has people talking about them again…so maybe this had a publicity play but I’ll leave that up to the PR experts, and I’m definitely not one.

    •  @danielnewmanUV I guess there are still those who think all PR is good. I’m ont one of them…and these conversations are detrimental to the strides women have made in the last 60 years. 

      • danielnewmanUV

         @ginidietrich hard to say what is good anymore.  I hope she has a great career at Yahoo, and I truly hope Yahoo vetted and hired her for the right reasons.  
        Stay thirsty my friend….

  • What if her baby is like, SUPER CUTE? Can we talk about it in a year? 
    TOTALLY kidding. This is a ridiculous angle to a very interesting business story. Frankly, I really don’t give a damn about her kid. Or that she’s a working mom-to-be. Or that she’s married. Or what kind of creamer she likes in her coffee. Or how she likes her steak cooked. It simply doesn’t matter. This is the media assigning gender roles to people because it needs them to fit into boxes it has been familiar with for many years.
    A great post @ginidietrich . I think the real question we should be asking is why the media is so fascinated with Mayer’s gender and pregnancy.

    •  @MattLaCasse It’s because we still aren’t on a level playing field. OMG. A woman running a Fortune 500 company? Like, seriously?

  • I highly agree. I kept wanting to know what the huge deal was about her taking the CEO position, as surely we have heard of the Wal*Mart/SAMS Club CEO, Rosalind G. Brewer – or the Xerox CEO, Ursula M. Burns…..Not young, spry, soon-to-be-mother-37-year-old women but certainly in our day & age they still represent palm trees in a dessert. (can I copyright a metaphor? that one is SOLID.) And I can only note the interesting bit of the situation for me: what dissatisfaction at Google led her to join the competition? WAY more interesting than “DID YOU KNOW SHE HAS A BABY FACTORY IN HER TUMMY?”

    • dang. I tried to pay extra attention to the desert/dessert situation – still failed!

      •  @OneJillian It was still a very funny metaphor!
        And you’re right, the stories should be about what Google does now and whether or not she can right the Yahoo ship. 

        •  @ginidietrich For me, it’s both expected and sad to know that a woman on a fast career track is still something to study like a lab rat. what if we poke her …….here? how will………OFFSPRING effect her trajectory?

        •  @OneJillian And how will… TRAVELING effect her trajectory? And OMG… will her hair still look bob-y and shiny after a 14 hour day?

  • If we were to take even a step further back it’s quite telling that the biggest news to come out of Yahoo! in the past few years is mostly related to their CEO turnover. 
    If this is indeed a “glass cliff” scenario then it would just be another large dent in a ship that’s already treading water at best.
    P.S. She’s blonde so at least she’ll be fun AMIRITE!?!?!
    /kills self

    •  @JoshPGreenberg Bwahahahahah! LOL! You kill me, too.
      Yeah…five leaders in five years. THAT is a story.

  • Let me begin by saying that I think this is a great hire for Yahoo! Not only does she seem like CEO material (from afar) but it puts Yahoo! back in the conversation with Google and Microsoft. And isn’t that a tiny part of the reason why they hired her?
    But we are having this conversation because people are very curious as to how she’s going to juggle running a company with having a newborn at home.
    Then she says this: “My maternity leave will be a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it.”
    Moms everywhere are scoffing at this preposterous idea.
    Granted, she will most definitely have a nanny (or two) to help her get through the difficult couple of months that follow the arrival of the firstborn. But, no doubt, having a baby is hard. So is running a company.
    Can she do both? We’ll see.
    But if she fails…oh, man. I don’t want to see that conversation.

    •  @bradmarley I get all of that. And I know how hard it is to have a newborn at home and even think about working (not to mention the emotion because your hormones are out of whack). But that’s not the conversation we should be having. What she does on maternity leave and with her baby is up to her. Not us.

      •  @ginidietrich You are absolutely right. We shouldn’t care about what she does on maternity leave, but Yahoo is a public company. Anything she says or does about her maternity leave will (unfortunately) be closely monitored by investors and, to a lesser extent, the public. It’s just an unfortunate by-product of the world we live in.
        (Plus, moms get really fired up and judgmental about how other moms are going to raise their child. Don’t discount that aspect.)

        •  @bradmarley Very, very true.

        • belllindsay

           @bradmarley  @ginidietrich Oh, I can hear the ‘super moms’ out there sharpening their knives as we *speak*!! I sit more in the “darling, go get mommy another beer” camp of parenting! lol 

        •  @belllindsay “can you light my cigarette?”

        • belllindsay

           @ginidietrich Jeeze, I don’t go *that* far! LOL 

        •  @belllindsay Riiiiight.

      • rustyspeidel

         @ginidietrich But the supermoms can sometimes end up raising a lot of entitled, whiny kids. I think a healthy career enhances kids’ respect for their parents and teaches them to deal with many things on their own. By healthy I mean you’re home enough that your kids trust that you’re there for them and you know each other. 

        • belllindsay

           @rustyspeidel  @ginidietrich And they can get your beer for you.

        •  @rustyspeidel  @ginidietrich Sometimes? I kid. Sort of.
          The supermoms who have raised five kids without the help of their husband who works 80 hours a week want other moms to fail to justify their sacrifice. That’s why they’re watching Mayer closely. They think there is no way she can be a CEO and raise a kid.
          At least, that’s what I think.

  • ShellyKramer

    I just said this 🙂 Agree.

    •  @ShellyKramer The glass cliff I got from you…I got all fired up when I read your blog post and then I read another “Dear Ms. Mayer” letter and lost it.

  • DonovanGroupInc

    Okay call me simple here but seriously has it been that slow a news cycle that we need to put Marissa Mayer under the microscope to the extent that some have since the announcement?  I believe that one should be given a chance to prove what they can do and let the results speak for themselves.  With that – best of luck Ms. Mayer – win, lose or draw without even having your name on your office door yet the Yahoo brand is back in play.

    •  @DonovanGroupInc Kind of like you’re innocent until proven guilty? Yeah.

      • DonovanGroupInc

         @ginidietrich Exactly – in a way I think it genius whether they had planned this or not – since isn’t one of the goals in any type of “announcement” here to get people talking? 

        •  @DonovanGroupInc I guess so…I’d just rather the conversation be constructive.

  • UGH!!! I didnt know about “glass cliff”, and your right, it made me angry!! Seriously is 2012 the year of tearing women down & stripping away their rights??
    Maybe the talks should be about the CEO’s before her who faltered. When will we finally look strictly at qualifications and credentials without seeing the gender or race tied to it?

    •  @sydcon_mktg Doesn’t it feel that way? It’s prevalent in the Presidential wars, in the media, and now with the leaders of the world’s largest companies. 

  • When I saw the email in my inbox. I was hoping to see @ginidietrich as the author! Yes Yes Yes thank you Gini!  I do not recall any of these type questions coming out when Ron Johnson took over JCP? “Hey Ron your the new CEO of JCP and your wife is pregnant are you sure you are up to taking on this challenge” THAT WOULD NOT BE ASKED! Now if he was pregnant…ooops I digress.
    Now it is ok to ask the tough questions of her. How are you going to stop the talent flood? How are you going to get the company back on track? How are you going to gain marketshare back? What are your long term visions?  These are the questions and posts we should be hearing about!
    Now don’t get me wrong it is fascinating to see what she will do with being the first CEO of a F500 that is pregnant.  It is a whole social dynamic we have not seen before. I do feel there will be way more positive role modeling that will come out of it, than negative.
    THANKS  for posting!

    •  @keithprivette I wasn’t going to write about it, but I got so angry last night, the blog post just came out of my fingers. And then I wasn’t going to publish, but I was still mad about it this morning. So here we are.
      But in better news…HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  • ladylaff

    SING IT SISTER!  I couldn’t agree more!

  • IamDez

    Well damn… apparently I have the wrong thought patterns. My first thought when I heard the news was “She deserves it” and “Finally… somebody that might be able to bring Yahoo back to not-stupid” Guess I should have been thinking “What is her husband going to think”… wouldn’t want to stray from `typical` thinking more than I already do.

    •  @IamDez Dang. You’re waaaaaay too progressive. You need to dial it back.

      • IamDez

         @ginidietrich obviously… the “She’s from Wisconsin” part of my brain really should have kicked in MUCH sooner.

  • I think you’re right on here.  For years, Yahoo! has been were good apps go to die.  Turning around the mess at Yahoo! is one Hell of a story on its own and anyone who isn’t writing this that way is one seriously off the mark.  Sexism is all over this story as it’s being told and it really does make me sick.

    •  @wabbitoid It’s really, really bad, isn’t it?

      •  @ginidietrich I haven’t seen sexism this bad since … well, we’ve talked about reproductive health as an employer option lately …. yeah, this crap is absolutely endemic.  It’s like we entered a time-warp in here somehow and we’re back in the 1950s (or worse).

  • magriebler

    On Wednesday, when I feared for my blood pressure and my sanity, I stopped reading all those bat**** crazy articles. (Yours is the exception, @ginidietrich, because you have read my mind and of course I agree with you 1000%.) I wish Marissa Mayer what I wish anyone in this life:  Success as she defines it.
    Tomorrow, can you write a post about what we can do to combat this offensive nonsense, mentor young people, support each other and dream together about a better world? (Cue sappy music; thank you.)

    •  @magriebler I’ll have to write it next week…tomorrow is my fun blogging day where I do goofy things instead of getting on my soapbox about how crazy people are talking about this stuff in 2012.

      •  @ginidietrich I can’t wait to read it! Go Gini go! 🙂

  • THANK YOU! I was so annoyed when everyone kept having to add in that she’s pregnant. SO WHAT. Why does that have to be mentioned?! Why does it matter in regards to her becoming the new Yahoo CEO. Please tell me….I felt like people had to add that in to imply that Yahoo was making a mistake or that she definitely wouldn’t be able to handle it. You know what good for Yahoo for just finding the person they thought was smart enough and experienced enough for the position. What makes me more sick is that other women writing posts and articles are making a big deal that she’s pregnant too. Really?! I’m so glad you wrote about this because I was just fuming the other day and now I’m all fired up again!!

    •  @rachaelseda Me too! @ginidietrich thank you.

      • ifdyperez

         @Shonali @rachaelseda @ginidietrich It makes me think these writers are having a little trouble finding real news to talk about, and want to start a “controversial” discussion.
        If she can juggle babies with one hand while she revamps the Yahoo! corporate strategy blindfolded, standing on burning coal, and singing the national anthem backwards, then THAT should be in the news. Otherwise, cheers to the chick who’s gonna kick some ass in corporate America.

        •  @ifdyperez  @Shonali  @rachaelseda I don’t know if they are trying to create controversy, if they’re concerned by the idea that she said she’s only going to take a few weeks off, or if things really haven’t changed as much as we think they have, but this conversation about her naïveté and her “go” bag is ridiculous. 

  • She’s pregnant. Not suddenly brain dead or less capable to do her job. Plenty of women have families and jobs.

    • magriebler

       @JuliPeterson Yes! And, unlike many working women, she has the money to pay for help … lots of it. The parents I worry about are the ones without a safety net, who face a crisis when the baby is sick and can’t be brought to daycare and neither one of them can afford to take time off.

    •  @JuliPeterson OMG! Really?! That’s what I want to say to these people writing these articles. Come on, people. Having a baby doesn’t make you brain dead.

  • Agreed! Jeez, can’t we just be excited that someone with a track record is taking over at Yahoo? They need help and here is that ‘second chance”.

  • Unfortunately, it looks like the business world and media have not evolved their thinking yet with high profile hires who are women. The good and bad part is that all eyes are on Marissa. If she fails to turn Yahoo around within the next 3-5 years, the stereotype of a woman not being able to hold a high-level position while starting a family will continue to persist. If she succeeds, she’ll be viewed as the woman who single-handedly pioneered the notion that a woman can be a high-level leader during early motherhood.It doesn’t help when you hear mothers being quoted on the TODAY show saying that Marissa is doing a disservice to her future family by not being with her child 24/7. That’s a load of BS. Every person is different and runs their schedule to their preference.

    •  @PhilipNowak It’s a total load of BS and no one should judge another on how they choose to raise their children. Staying home with your child 24/7 doesn’t do anyone good – you or the child.

  • richmeyer

    I know and have worked with several people at Yahoo and right now they need a major shot of moral because they feel their company is a rudderless ship in a storm.  Especially troubling is the call to “fire” more people right off the bat but even more troubling to me is that Ms Mayer is a geek and has had “management” issues.
    According to several Google insiders she has her own publicist and HR people and has an ego the size of the the state of Texas.  This is NOT the type of person that Yahoo needs right now.  A quick glance around the Web indicates that Ms Mayer’s publicity firm is in overdrive and when then the person is more important than the job than they are not a good leader.
    It’s not about male vs. female it’s about who is the best person to lead this company and Ms Mayer is probably not that person

    •  @richmeyer I really hope this isn’t true…I hate the notion that any PR is good PR.

  • rustyspeidel

    The Steve Berglas post was annoying, arrogant, and condescending. So was the “glass cliff” BS. That helps!
    I say ignore those idiots and focus on the fact  that Yahoo! needs to be completely transformed. The era of the late 90s web portal is long over, but they keep hanging on like it’s coming back around. I don’t care where she works, or how many kids she has, or whether she worked at Google. Does she have the vision to completely re-orient Yahoo! around the mobile, social, cloud-based future of computing? Can she impart it to the current employees and empower them to build it? If so, we have a winner. 

  • I kinda said something similar in a recent post about these lists “Top 10 Women To Watch” or whatever that seem to pop up frequently in Ad Age, Fast Company and Inc. While these Fortune women who work at huge organizations with huger budgets to accomplish hugest and noteworthy things globally are laudable; there are so many, many small fry doing many, many, many also laudable things on scale.  And, we’re raising our children while doing so. Sigh.

    •  @Soulati | B2B Social Media Marketing And giving back to our communities and mentoring young professionals and participating in our industries and writing books and completing races…and being whole people that don’t work 24/7.

  • The harshest criticism I have read has all come from other women. I really don’t understand why the focus is on her gender and not experience/skills.

    • belllindsay

       @TheJackB Present company excepted, I will say that women are the *worst* at taking down other women. Sad. But true. 

      •  @belllindsay  @TheJackB I was just about to say the same, Lindsay.  So sad. 

        •  @RebeccaTodd  @belllindsay  I can’t wait til next week when I see the two of you and can talk about you behind your backs!

        •  @ginidietrich  @belllindsay Did you SEE what she was WEARING?!?

        • belllindsay

           @RebeccaTodd  @ginidietrich HAHAHA! “Ew, she *smokes*!!” 

        •  @belllindsay  I can’t make fun of you for smoking. I already do that to your face. @RebeccaTodd 

    •  @TheJackB Oh there’s been some bad stuff by men, too. But I do agree women are our own worst enemies.

  • Gini good post as always.  As I said on Facebook Ms. Mayer should be judged ONLY on what she can do to position Yahoo for the future and on the impact she has on the price of the stock, mostly the latter.  Her job as CEO of a public company is to deliver value and return to her shareholders, everything else is secondary.  This to me is gender, race, and sexual orientation neutral and would be the same standard I would judge any CEO by.  As the father of two fantastic daughters who will ultimately make an impact in whatever they do I’m rooting for her.

    •  @rwohlner That’s exactly how I feel about it, Roger. Can you imagine if one of your daughters had this position and this is the crap you were reading about her? It’s just wrong.

  • jenelleconner

    Thank you! 

  • jenelleconner

    Thank you! This has been driving me crazy! As always @ginidietrich , you are the voice of reason. 

  • To be honest, I haven’t been bothered by any of the stories. In fact, I haven’t read a single one. I’m not really sure Yahoo even exists anymore. I remember using it once, at the turn of the century, but since then, I’m pretty sure they’ve closed their doors.
    Are you sure this woman is real? I mean, who would leave Google to go take over a company that has been out of business for 10 years? I think it is all pretend.
    Maybe she could also run Bing and MySpace, since I’m pretty sure they don’t exist anymore, either.
    I think you have all been fooled by some creative, albeit bad, fiction writing.
    Seriously, Yahoo? The last time anyone used them, they were still putting film in their cameras.

    •  @ExtremelyAvg HAHAHAHAAHAH!!! This, literally, made me laugh out loud. Hilarious!

    •  @ExtremelyAvg The story’s that Marissa Mayer has plateaued at Google. She was employee #20, and despite being the head of search and design have been steadily pushed to the background. Right now, she is a VP and does not even have a place in Google’s leadership homepage. There are about 10 SVPs over her and many of them have joined Google later
      So this writer at All Things Digital says that for someone as ambitious and driven as MM, the Yahoo gig is the best thing to happen. She gets a place in the C-suite, she gets a challenging task and if she turns the supertanker around, she will be even more famous in Silicon Valley than she has been at Google for a very long time.
      Personally, I think it’s a smart move. She really has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

      •  @bhas  @ExtremelyAvg I think it’s a smart move, too. And I wish her the best of luck. I hope she’s really good at it. THAT’S what the story should be about…not this crap about gender and motherhood.

        •  @ginidietrich  @bhas I agree, I think it would be cool if Yahoo came back to life. If I were here, I’d put out a press release mentioning the fact that, apparently, they ARE still in business, and if people feel like waxing nostalgic about the days of dial-up, they should stop in to see what’s new.

  • I’m bowing down to you in the Livefyre office, Gini. I was just  reading Berglas’ article yesterday and had to stop myself from screaming (and I couldn’t even finish the stupid article). It’s incredible that this is going on. I hope Mayer has some industrial strength earplugs to tune out all of this, for lack of a better word, crap. /rant 

    •  @annedreshfield I wonder if her “people” are protecting her from some of this stuff? I know if I were on her team, I’d be making sure she saw the ones that were helpful and then I’d give her a summary of the tabloid-y ones. And hope she doesn’t go home at night and Google herself.

      •  @ginidietrich  @annedreshfield Umm…don’t you mean Yahoo herself? Heh. 

        •  @RebeccaTodd  @annedreshfield LMAO!!!!!!!

  • CloseToHomeMD

    So, is the moral to the story that we work our butts off to break through the “glass ceiling” only to find ourselves on a “glass cliff”? I may just have to go jump off a real cliff. Oh no, that would give “them” too much credibility. Thanks so much for introducing me to a new term I had not heard yet in relation to the multiple ways our society attempts to sabotage the gains women have made over the years.
    Just one note to contradict the “glass cliff” theory (or does it support it?): a number of years ago I read a paper describing why deans of major medical schools were reluctant to name women as department chairs. I don’t have the link readily at hand. But the bottom line was that they were afraid that IF the new chair failed, the Board of Directors would hold the dean more culpable BECAUSE he had hired a woman. Maybe it means that they EXPECTED women to fail more than men. Or maybe it meant that if the male chair failed it was not his fault whereas a woman chair couldn’t possibly be expected to deal with all those difficult tasks and making all those difficult decisions necessary to keep a department in the black and optimally functioning.

    •  @CloseToHomeMD It’s kind of like what we experience as a boutique PR firm. No one ever got fired for hiring a big, global PR firm with a big, branded name (even if they do crap work and don’t get results). But if you hire a boutique firm and they do crap work and don’t get results, they lose … and you lose.

      • CloseToHomeMD

         @ginidietrich So as a boutique PR firm you have to be perfect, and get results I guess  😉

        •  @CloseToHomeMD And convince them to take the risk!

  • mlaffs

    @ginidietrich it is news, and for those familiar with her story, this is the interesting bit, i guess?

  • mlaffs

    @ginidietrich especially since there’s a lot of silicon valley burnout over the usual suspects playing musical chairs

    • ginidietrich

      @mlaffs The news is that Google is losing a top exec to Yahoo. THAT’S news. The fact that she’s a women and young and pregnant is not.

  • Opelova

    @ginidietrich completely agree with you on that. media in the Czech Republic are even worse saying yahoo must be nuts to hire her 😐

    • ginidietrich

      @Opelova Are they really??

      • Opelova

        @ginidietrich unfortunately, yes. When I was reading an article about it I got the impression that pregnancy is an incurable brain disease.

    • ginidietrich

      @Opelova There was one blogger who described pregnancy as a short-time illness with long-term effects.

      • Opelova

        @ginidietrich Oh my, it’s like Middle Ages all over again. 🙁 Or somebody is just trying to be “interesting” in a totally wrong way.

        • ginidietrich

          @Opelova It’s painful.

        • Opelova

          @ginidietrich Well, I guess the best thing I can do is to try to be the change I want to see in the world. 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @Opelova Exactly!

  • mediachick76

    I’m noticing there are 2 camps of women. The camp that sees this as a non-issue and the camp that is glad this is an issue (because it gives them an opportunity to pursue the discussion of equal treatment from companies despite the “short term disability” of being pregnant). 
    Personally, having a 10 month old and a career I can say I am very, very tired much of the time right now. And my career won’t such up as much time as Marissa’s will, so in my eyes, she’s a super hero. Somebody give her a cape. I don’t know how people (men or women) operate on so little sleep. Maybe that’s the story the media should lead with: “Super Hero Runs On 4 Hours of Sleep Per Week And Survives”.

    •  @mediachick76 There are two camps; you’re right. A friend of mine said on FB that I missed the “glad it’s an issue” point of all of this. Maybe I did. But I wasn’t fired up about that. I’m fired up that people – journalists and scholars – are giving her advice when a) they don’t know her, b) have never worked with her, c) have never run a company, and d) ARE MAKING IT A GENDER ISSUE!! That’s why I’m fired up. 🙂

  • karlgibson

    @ginidietrich Any time a minority (gender/race) lands a prominent gig, the pontification arcs can get greasy & stupid. More power to her!

    • karlgibson

      @karlgibson @ginidietrich I agree with you 100%. Her pregnancy as front page news in newspapers is archaic, but editors think it’s Topic A?

    • ginidietrich

      @karlgibson More power to her is right!

  • PhilanthropyInk

    @ginidietrich Woah. Had not heard the term “glass cliff” before. Ouch.

    • ginidietrich

      @PhilanthropyInk Right?

  •  @ginidietrich I think it is really sad that in 2012 this keeps coming up. As someone who spent a long time in corporate life I can tell you that there are many men, and some women!, who think that a woman who pursues a career is an oddity and something to be commented on. These are the same people who start sentences with “I’m not a racist but…..”, or “I’m not homophobic but….” These people are to be avoided at all costs, and let’s not give them airtime!

    •  @John_Murphy Oh trust me…there are plenty of people in my life who think the fact that I am building a business is a shame and they look down their noses at me when they’re at home on a Saturday night and I’m out enjoying the city with Mr. D. There are some nights I wish I were them and I’m sure the opposite, but I don’t begrudge them for choosing a different path than me.

    •  @John_Murphy  Yes, starting with “I’m not _____” is a passive way of saying “I am _____ but too cowardly to be open about it, even as it clearly defines my speech and choice of topics.”  It’s a sign of very weak character, IMHO.

  • shonali

    @kreebeau I know! @GiniDietrich

  • I agree. We really shouldn’t be bothered how many weeks she might take off because of her baby or how she chooses to raise her baby with such a huge job to take care of…. so irrelevant, as long as she gets her work done all right and takes Yahoo to a better place, I wouldn’t be bothered if she brings her baby to work…. that would be fun though… Hmmmm…

    •  @Hajra  And then she’d get slaughtered for allowing babies at work. The shame!

  • ginidietrich

    @chicagocomms Thank you!

  • I’ve been thinking about this a bit, and I’m still pretty pissed off about how sexist most of the coverage of Mayer’s appointment has been.  But when I think about how I would write this story on my own terms, I think the pregnancy is pretty important – it would seem odd to NOT mention it, since it is a first.
    So how would *I* handle this?  First of all, if she were a man I would mention having a young and/or growing family – but only in passing.  And in this case, I think it deserves just a bit more than that.
    We’re dealing with a rather unconventional person here – a real leader in many ways who has taken several unusual paths.  Signing up with google so early on and taking that risk is worth mentioning.  A programmer rising to a management position is important.  The interview with Lady Gaga deserves a mention, just for weirdness.  And the pregnancy can be included in that same paragraph.
    So I don’t think it should be entirely left out – that would stand out as a glaring admission to many people.  But some context for understanding that Mayer is a person who does things her own way would make it a much more rich story.  Throw in how Yahoo! needs some fresh air and you have a pretty good story, I’d say.
    But I would never offer “advice” or a comparison to Fiorina.  That’s just dumb and sexist.
    (note:  I’m from the East, and we refer to people we don’t know by last name.  Women, too.  The only time it gets weird is when you reference “Clinton”, so the title “Secretary Clinton” is handy.  Calling Mayer “Marissa” in an article just looks sexist and wrong, IMHO.)

    •  @wabbitoid I agree…and like @mediachick76 said, there are two camps to this. You just explored the second camp. I do think having a baby while running a company is a conversation to be had and it’s something that hasn’t happened at that level before now. But what gets under my skin is how journalists and scholars are giving her advice based on her gender and motherhood and not on her record. 

  • AdamSinger

    @ginidietrich when are we hanging out again for drinks? Another date with you and @conversationage is overdue 🙂

    • ginidietrich

      @AdamSinger Come to Chicago! @conversationage

  • PRMurewa

    @ginidietrich in light of the disclosure of her overall pay, people do need to shift focus from her sex and pregnancy to something else.

    • ginidietrich

      @PRMurewa YES!

      • PRMurewa

        @ginidietrich I must confess, she’s my super hero. I, however, pray that she proves people wrong and turn Yahoo into a super company.

        • ginidietrich

          @PRMurewa I hope so too!

  • ginidietrich

    @CynthiaSchames LOL! I”ll gladly share it with you!

    • CynthiaSchames

      @ginidietrich so glad you wrote that, because…YEAH!

  • ginidietrich

    @AlexNCollins Pleased to have you!

  • Commented more or less the same on a post on HBR

    This is yet another of the many ‘if she were a man, it wouldn’t matter’ issues. It’s her abilities and expertise, her experience and quality of work that are relevant, nothing else. Alas it’s fodder for news as media outlets apparently get clicks and eyeballs waxing on about work life balance. And being sexist trolls.

    What gets me still is the double standard. Debated w/ someone the other day, a woman being hyper critical of a woman on TV (one of those HGTV shows) choosing to be a stay at home mom. I was just.. damn. Everyone has their own ideas of family, marriage, parenthood. We need to stop, just stop with these ridiculous ideas – and pandering judgements – that it’s either or, that it’s somehow wrong, a failing if life sometimes conflicts with work, that it’s ‘all’ or none. That happens to us all — men, women, married, single, parent, not. Period. FWIW.

    •  @3HatsComm You’re right – it does happen to all of us. There is someone who judges us for the decisions we’ve made. It’s really awful.

  • katie_mccartney

    Truly feel this conversation should not be happening at all today.  Women are allowed a choice to do what they want to do with their lives.  This only irks me that this at all a national topic of discussion!  

    •  @katie_mccartney I really, really tried not to write about it. I should stop reading national news.

      • katie_mccartney

         @ginidietrich lol – I know.  I swear off national news for a while and then it sucks me back in while I exercise at the gym.  I should get myself a bike;o)  I was so irate that I tried to think how this would relate to Real Estate to write about it.  Failed to see the connection; but, grateful that I could vent here:o)

  • JennyFloria

    @jeffreypjacobs @ginidietrich Thank you! I don’t understand why a pregnant CEO is the front page of biz sections.

    • ginidietrich

      @JennyFloria It really infuriates me

      • JennyFloria

        @ginidietrich Me too. A good leader empowers and infuses her team & can tstart a family without the place falling apart. Tho’ it is Yahoo…

  • I think Yahoo is an obvious next step for Marissa in her career so should could move up in the ranks and show what she can do. I’m not sure, however, that it was the right move for Yahoo. They are a publicly traded company and bringing in somone new to this role (I know she’s not new to the industry) can be risky. That being said, the reason this is such a big deal I think has less to do with the fact that she’s a woman, but more to do with Yahoo struggling so much lately, having an identity crisis, and not konwing how to move their business forward. I look up to Marissa Mayer as one of my idols in the industry, and I hope she can bring a fresh, productive perspective to Yahoo. I am still skeptical, however, that it will solve their problems.
    That being said, it has NOTHING to do with the fact that she’s a woman. We’ve seen men fail in this role, it’s a tricky one all together.

    •  @jennalanger We’ve seen FOUR men fail in this role and no one is talking about that. No one is interviewing their past employees to see how they work or deciding that the way they approach work/life balance is naive. It really makes me angry.

  • Mathewsbxuou
  •  @ginidietrich I’m sure you saw the USA Today front page yesterday.Why it chose to print the most unflattering picture of Marissa I’ve ever seen speaks to the very issue you’re so fired up about. Maybe the conversation will change now that everyone knows how much she’s making to take on such a monumental task. Or maybe not.

    •  @TedWeismann Oh I did. And I got angry all over again.

    •  @TedWeismann Also. I’m in the wrong business. I’d like to make $60MM a year.

  • I really wish I wouldn’t have read the Berglas article. It felt so darn condescending. It would be a different thing if that advice column was written by another female executive giving Megan some advice in her new role. And, the “glass cliff” concept is also disturbing – though, it seems sadly true. I guess they must think they can afford a more “risky” hire when they’re desperate. Ugh.
    She’s jumping into trouble waters over at Yahoo. That ship isn’t going to right itself overnight. I just hope they aren’t setting her up to fail. She’s inherited a big mess that would be tough for anyone coming into that role. I just hope that if it doesn’t go well they don’t blame it on the fact that she’s a woman or a mom.

    •  @lauraclick She is jumping into troubled waters and she has inherited a big mess. That is the story. Does she have the ability to turn things around? I hope so because I’m going to be really, really angry in a year when they start writing stories about how she couldn’t turn things around because she was more focused on her baby.

      •  @ginidietrich Amen. Time will tell. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that some amazing things happen in a year.

  • You’re so pretty, Gini.

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  • ginidietrich

    @projecteve1 Amazing, isn’t it?

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  • FredericaFaison

    We are having this conversation because she screwed up by leaving Google.  She is catching a falling knife, or jumping on a sinking ship, or whatever other phrase you want to use for Yahoo’s demise.  Most women wouldn’t have made this jump.  Most women would have stayed put.
    I’m sure she got paid a lot of money, but Yahoo is beyond repair.  It is a bastion for confused liberals that is about to fall into the trash bin of history.  It had huge advantages in several areas, and gave all of them away.

    • @FredericaFaison That comment qualified as authentic frontier gibberish.

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  • Juliwilson789

    good stuff with good ideas and concepts, lots of great information and
    inspiration, both of which we all need.