Yahoo’s new CEO Marissa Mayer, 28-weeks pregnant, told Fortune that her maternity leave would be “a few weeks long, and I'll work throughout it.”
With those nine words, she opened a new front in the debate over work-life balance and that nettlesome phrase “having it all.” Mayer’s approach? “I like to stay in the rhythm of things,” she told Fortune.
The reactions — on blogs, Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere — have varied widely. Some criticised her as a poor role model for working women while others congratulated her for embracing two challenges. Another camp marvelled at her naïveté about the future.
“You can think of a lot of moms who have more than one child, and do they ever say, ‘I will stop feeding my older child because of the newborn’?” asked Pooja Sankar, 31, chief executive of Piazza, an online, problem-solving forum for teachers and students.
Sankar, who gave birth to her first child three weeks ago, thinks of Piazza as one of her own, “This ‘child’ depends on me to run, to exist, really.”
New parents with the financial means have solutions that others don’t, wh-en they have to answer to both a newborn and a boss.
Mayer, for example, will be able to hire as many nannies and baby nurses as she needs. Sankar’s parents and in-laws are living in her home in Palo Alto, California.
These days, just as vacation is punctuated with work e-mails, maternity leave is not lived 100% disconnected, either. Some parents believe this half-on, half-off state is an unfair burden.
But some entrepreneurs like Maria Seidman, 34, of Manhattan say they don't expect anything else. Two weeks ago, in the recovery room after the birth of her second child, she announced the event via (what else?) Yapp, the business she helped found. It helps people quickly publish mobile applications. Seidman argued that maternity leave itself is “a false construct,” adding, “What does that mean in today's fused world?”