Yahoo made a phenomenal decision by announcing Marissa Mayer, a Google executive for 13 years, chief executive officer starting immediately. She would begin the job while being pregnant. If the Internet’s reaction to this historic move is in any way a reliable indicator.
Yahoo’s coup in hiring Mayer isn’t significant because of the change in power — it is significant because it reflects and promotes the notion that women can be powerhouses in the tech sector.
Here are three reasons why:
First and foremost, the board decided to put a pregnant woman in charge of a company. Ask yourself, would your company have made the same decision? Probably not. But this is not unprecedented for Yahoo. The company has shown confidence in women in the past, tapping Carol Bartz as CEO in 2009 — although her tenure was brief. But Mayer is different. She has flown more or less under the radar, slowly and steadily building the experience needed to deliver and impress. She is credited with Google’s famous white search page, Gmail layout, and Google Maps design. She has an eye for product design, and a history of successful decision-making. Pregnancy? Not an issue. Mayer knows her stuff.
That brings us to reason number two: Yahoo needs someone who knows their stuff more than ever. In reacting to the news on Twitter, some wondered why Mayer would choose to go down with the Yahoo ship. Does she really think she can save the fledgling tech company? Yahoo thinks she can.
Finally, Yahoo is setting a remarkable precedent. Since Sheryl Sandberg delivered her oft-cited 2010 TED talk on why there are too few women leaders, the world has been abuzz about how to get more women pursuing STEM careers. Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett-Packard, and Sandberg, COO of Facebook, have been two of tech’s most outspoken female stars. When Sandberg was named the first female to Facebook’s board earlier this year, cheers broke out. When news broke of Mayer’s move to Yahoo on Monday, the cheers were even louder.
There are companies that would have shied away from hiring a pregnant woman to turn around their brand. By putting their entire business — indeed, their trust — in Mayer’s hands, Yahoo is telling the world that they have confidence not only in Mayer as a woman, but in what she represents. They have stepped up to the plate.
Yahoo has made it more difficult for other companies to ignore the too-few-women-in-tech problem. Facebook may have been the most prominent company to launch a woman into their higher ranks, but Yahoo’s decision has been decided with a heavier, unexpectedly progressive hand.
The Rise Of Women Power !