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Pregnancy and Power? It’s About Time!

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Although many of us have gone through a pregnancy and maintained a rigorous career at the same time, it’s not something you often see when it comes to Fortune 500 positions.  Really, you don’t see many women in Fortune 500 leadership positions at all.  With Yahoo’s hiring of Marissa Mayer as their new CEO though, they now have both and she’s getting a lot of media attention as a result.

When Yahoo made the controversial move to snag Mayer away from Google, it wasn’t her intelligence and obvious experience that made the media pounce on the story.  Instead, it was her pregnancy.  People just couldn’t understand why Yahoo would take on a pregnant woman to save their downward sliding company.  Obviously, their process for selection has been long and they’ve done their research regarding who has the ideas and skills necessary to turn their company around.  When their first pick got caught lying on his resume, they didn’t take long to convince Mayer to leave Google, their main competitor.

Some say that Mayer will not be able to devote the kind of time and energy needed to revive the company as she gets further into her pregnancy and especially during maternity leave.  It seems that these people have never met a modern woman.  Most American mom’s work 40 hour plus weeks and take care of two or three kids, all while performing well at their positions.  In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seventy percent of American women with children under the age of eighteen are earning a paycheck while raising their children.  It’s shocking to realize that Mayer is the first pregnant Fortune 500 CEO ever.  Why can’t a woman use her uterus and her brain at the same time?  Has it really taken us this long to get over female stereotypes, particularly those concerning pregnancy?  This is the ultimate in multi-tasking. I know for a fact that both career and family can be balanced in a successful way.  In fact, I feel that it is my family who gave me the strength to achieve success in the first place.  My second memoir, Something to Prove, chronicles that journey.  I’m sure the arrival of Mayer’s baby will only drive her even harder to realize her career goals and those of Yahoo as well.  As far as seeing a pregnant woman in such a powerful position, I’d say it’s about time!


– Yvonne S. Thornton, M. D., M. P. H.