Marissa Mayer has sure got a lot of haters. It seems every feminist enclave across the internet has had to put in its 2 cents regarding Mayer’s reluctance to call herself a feminist. In a recent interview for the PBS Documentary, “Makers,” Mayer equated being feminist with negativity and having a “chip on the shoulder.” Ouch.
Many feminists and mommy bloggers criticized Mayer’s choice to work throughout her maternity leave, which lasted exactly the two weeks she said it would. Some took the opportunity to reproach her for not fully realizing how important and gushy motherhood is supposed to be. Mommyish straight up called Mayer out for her example saying, “people will use this as ammunition to say that maternity leave isn’t necessary.”
On top of this, the internet is now rife with criticism of Mayer’s move to abolish full-time work-at-home arrangements at Yahoo!. One Feministing contributor calls Mayer’s policies “anti-feminist” adding, “I’ll say it again: I think Mayer’s rejection of feminism is whack and her remote work policy is harmful.” Another article I came across even seeks to criticize Mayer’s get-your-butt-into-the-office policy for contributing to future air toxicity. Seriously?
There is an expectation in feminist circles that female leadership, in turn, foster female development. I counter that expectations of special treatment from women who have succeeded in business and in leadership positions is counter to feminist goals. For all the good feminism has created, there is an equal amount of detriment that can come of the expectation that women who attain great power should act preferentially in the better interests of women entering the workforce.
What Marissa Mayer has done with Yahoo!’s new work arrangement is two-fold. It serves to weed out inflexible and under-productive employees, as well as inject efficiency and freshness into an ailing business. Yahoo! has been on the after-burner of innovation; and playing catch-up for years. For all the complaining coming from journalists and bloggers (who likely do not work in STEM fields to begin with), there is plenty of circumstantial evidence of the effectiveness of face-to-face collaboration as compared to remote interactions.
In essence, Mayer’s elimination of remote work arrangements is an action feminists should embrace. Mayer didn’t come in and go, “Oh. I am the boss now, so I’d best ensure my policies are family and woman friendly, or I might offend someone.” No. She said, “I am the boss now, and I am going to turn this company around, entitlements be damned!” She pulled a punch; and didn’t sweat the fallout. Mayer has a reputation for making decisions based on statistical evidence. And in top Mayer-form, she made a tough business decision, proving she has just as much business chutzpah as any other Fortune 500 CEO on the beat.
If that’s not feminist, I don’t know what is.