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Introducing the CEO Mommy

The recent decision by Yahoo to hire the fresh-faced former Google executive Marissa Mayer as its new CEO has certainly raised a few eyebrows. Expected to be an inspiration to working women everywhere, Mayer is intelligent, accomplished, exudes confidence and style and is now heading up one of the world’s best known internet companies. Talk about living the dream.

However the appointment has been made just months before Mayer is due to give birth to her first child. With Mayer announcing her plans for her maternity leave — it will be “a few weeks long and I’ll work throughout it,” she said — workforce observers the world over dropped their jaws and we are all asking the same question; Babies and a high flying career….can you have it all?

Women first headed out to work in a big way during the man-power shortage of the 1940s. While this trend changed somewhat in the decade that followed with a return to home-based duties and baby-raising, the girl-power movement of the early 1970s saw women flocking back to the workforce to enjoy a rewarding career. Employment and workplace relations legislation has been implemented to keep wages for women and men equal and fair. The need for a woman to have maternity leave has also been legislated for. Thus women can generally rest assured that their job will be waiting for them when they have given birth, recovered and given bub that essential care required in the first few months.

To hear a woman such as Mayer stating that she intends to forgo the full term of her maternity leave and return to her job really highlights the way in which so many working mothers push themselves. At face value it would seem that they do so to keep up with their male counterparts. Sure, it’s a choice that women are free to make. But is it the right thing to do? The answer to this will ultimately be better asked on a case-by-case basis, however overall, most medical professionals recommend a recovery time of at least 6 weeks after the birth. Indeed it takes this long to establish a feeding routine and to ensure that the new mother is getting enough sleep and able to function well upon her routine to the workplace.

It is also important to remember that Marissa Mayer is not your average working woman and is not really a realistic role model for women who are trying to figure out how you can make it to the top and raise a family- within weeks of giving birth! She has at her fingertips both incredible wealth and resources that most women can only ever dream about. A high-tech nursery, around-the-clock babysitters, cooks, cleaners- you name it.

Thus we are not comfortable with anyone holding Marissa Mayer as a benchmark for working mothers. “Having it all” can be an impossible dream for the average working mother so we like to recommend aiming to achieve the balance of family life and a satisfying career. This is as simple as 3 easy points;

  • looking after yourself-knowing when to take a break
  • asking for help from family and friends if you find yourself spread too thing
  • using your legislative and contractual workplace protections to the utmost following the birth of your child.

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