In this corner, we have Sheryl Sandberg at Facebook (born and raised in North Miami Beach!), with her new book Lean In shining a light on working moms and the issues we face trying to climb the ladder of career success. In the other corner, new Yahoo CEO (and new mom) Marissa Mayer, cutting off work-at-home options for all her employees.
Mayer's move is disheartening, to put it mildly, at a time when so many women are able to work only jobs that have some flexibility - and are giving up promotions, more pay and other perks to keep it. (And when study after study shows people are more productive when they can set their own hours. If that's not the case at Yahoo, she should fire the underachievers, not wreck the lives of the whole staff).
So many saw Sandberg's and Mayer's rise to the top - Mayer while pregnant even - as a sign that things were turning around for us. Someone up there will understand what it feels like to be pulled in different directions every day. A sick baby on the day of your big presentation. A work emergency that pops up the moment you need to leave to pick up the kids from day care.
For her part, Sandberg is trying to help. She is putting herself out there as a spokesmom, and for that I give her props. (Love her TED Talk.)
As for Mayer, I don't recall her asking to represent us all, thank you very much.
And can either of them, like it or not, really relate to the rest of us anyway? There's a good column from Joanne Bamberger (aka @PunditMom) in USA Today:
"Both Mayer and Sandberg are overlooking the forest for the trees. The amount of household help they can afford to manage their family lives isn't a reality for the vast majority of women and never will be."
I cringe at the framing of these two corporate superstars as another chapter in the mommy wars though. Because that would mean in this fight, we're definitely on our own.
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