Broadly Speaking

July 19, 2012

The woman-centric news of the week has been Marissa Mayer's appointment as CEO of Yahoo. It's probably safe to say this information has generated as much as or more comment than the Anne-Marie Slaughter article on (not) having it all. Then came the news Mayer was pregnant - followed by swift assurances that she'd barely take any time off and would 'be working throughout' her maternity leave. Enough to leave a normal woman feeling exhasuted (and skeptical)? Manoush Zomorodi, who appears in episode 5 of The Broad Experience, doesn't hold back on Mayer's decision and her - and our - reaction to it. Dysfunctional boobs, anyone? 

Amanda Steinberg of DailyWorth has been a pregnant CEO herself and her take is pithy and just as uncensored (just do it; ignore the naysayers). The ladies from tech startup Skillcrush have a twist on that take themselves: this is fabulous news for women - we salute you, Marissa! Then there's Stacy-Marie Ishmael's view that Mayer's news, far from being encouraging, leaves glass ceilings everywhere firmly in place.

I read a couple of pieces within a day that made me think about the whole leadership question afresh. Both involved young - in the first case, very young - females. This piece from Live Science magazine describes a study where girls as young as six are already indicating they want to be viewed as 'sexy' and the second, published in Forbes Woman, is written by a 19-year-old who ascribes her generation's general lack of interest in leading anything to the fact that they're too busy trying to be, and look, perfect. She argues that being judged on your looks, as women in public always are, is so stressful, what sane young woman would want to put herself out there in a leadership role? All I can say is that when I was that age I had no interest in leading anything either. Now I'm beginning to warm up to the idea. But it's taken me 20 years of experience in the adult world, complete with office politics, mistakes made, opportunities ignored or missed, dreams achieved and unachieved, to realize I might like to do this. Yes, the pressure to look good can feel crippling, but confidence often comes with age. Perhaps if someone asks this writer again in 10 years, she - and her contemporaries - may feel differently.