Marissa Meyer, Yahoo and competitive mothering in the executive suite

If only I had spent more time at work

For the last few days I’ve been writing about attachment parenting, a parenting philosophy which has little or nothing to do with the needs of children, and can best be understood as a competition among women looking for validation of their mothering. Simply put, women who pride themselves on making mothering a priority compete as to who sacrifices more for their children.

Lest you think that competitive mothering is restricted to those who place mothering front and center, Marissa Meyer has helpfully demonstrated that competitive mothering is alive and well in the executive suite, though there the rules are precisely the opposite. Instead of competing on who sacrifices more for their children, competitive mothers in the executive suite rig the game so that no other mother can sacrifice more than they do and make them feel bad.

Meyer is the CEO of Yahoo and in her very short tenure thus far she has managed to twice up the ante on mommy competition in the boardroom. First, Meyer made waves by announcing that she would take no more than 2 weeks maternity leave for the birth of her first child.

From the start, Mayer, who at 37 is one of Silicon Valley’s most notorious workaholics, was not the role model that some working moms were hoping for. The former Google Inc. executive stirred up controversy by taking the demanding top job at Yahoo when she was five months pregnant and then taking only two weeks of maternity leave. Mayer built a nursery next to her office at her own expense to be closer to her infant son and work even longer hours.

This week Meyer moved to abolish telecommuting, a practice common at many tech companies:

Now working moms are in an uproar because they believe that Mayer is setting them back by taking away their flexible working arrangements. Many view telecommuting as the only way time-crunched women can care for young children and advance their careers without the pay, privilege or perks that come with being the chief executive of a Fortune 500 company.

Meyer claims to have abolished telecommuting for purely business reasons:

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side. That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices,” Jackie Reses, Yahoo’s human resources chief, wrote in the memo sent out Friday. “Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo, and that starts with physically being together.”

Really? Does Meyer have any evidence that the production and quality of work among those who telecommute is less than those who come to the office every day? If she has it, why hasn’t she presented it.

I, for one, doubt Meyer’s ostensible business motivation. I’m afraid that it is about about competitive mothering in the boardroom. Specifically, Meyer wants to ensure that other mothers can’t spend any more time with their children than Meyer spends with hers.

Back in the good old days of conventional sexism, all a professional woman had to do to succeed is to be better at her job than any other man. Now, with mothers in the executive suite, professional women have to better at their jobs than any man AND make sure not to make the boss feel bad that she spends less time with her children than you spend with yours. That’s because women in the executive suite appear to think that the mothering decisions of their female employees are within their purview and ought to be judged with one criterion in mind: “What do her choices mean about my children and me?”

The reality is that Meyer’s decision makes no sense from a business perspective:

UCLA management professor David Lewin said the telecommuting ban is a risky step that could further damage Yahoo employee morale and performance and undermine recruiting efforts in a hotly competitive job market.

A 2011 study by WorldatWork also found that companies that embraced flexibility had lower turnover and higher employee satisfaction, motivation and engagement.

But it makes perfect sense in the world of competitive mothering. In fact, it is the paradigmatic example of competitive mothering in the executive suite. Instead of judging her employees by the quality of their work, Meyer judges them by how they make her feel about herself and her relationship with her children.

Meyer’s action is anti-feminist, but not in the way that most critics imply. Feminists have no obligation to make the workplace more accommodating to other women; they are merely required to offer the same opportunities to women as they offer to men. Meyer’s action is anti-feminist for two reasons. First, because it is the boardroom version of competitive mothering and the terrible propensity women have for criticizing anyone who doesn’t parent in exactly the same way that they do. Second, because it requires extra obligations on the part of other women. Simply turning in a high quality work product is not enough; they must do so without making their boss feel guilty about the amount of time she spends (or doesn’t spend) with her children.

The sad fact is that there are precious few good ways to combine a high powered career and mothering, but some women do manage to do it, whether it is through telecommuting or some other innovative practice. In the world of competitive mothering in the executive suite, that is unacceptable. Those women must be punished for their success in combining work and family so the boss doesn’t have to feel bad that she couldn’t manage to do it, too.

292 Responses to “Marissa Meyer, Yahoo and competitive mothering in the executive suite”

  1. stephanwhite
    March 6, 2013 at 1:45 am #

    think the idea is that women should get what they need to have the same
    opportunity as men: to have a family without hurting one’s career.

    Media Monitoring

  2. Annie
    March 4, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    sorry, but she did the right thing. People without kids have been picking up the slack for way too long. I resent every minute that I have to work for some “mommy” to coddle, pamper and spoil her brat. If “mommy” can’t, or won’t, work, just like everyone else has to, then to heck with her. That’s the problem, here. Breeding does not make you special. It’s about time that someone realizes that.

    • March 4, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

      Some day those people’s kids will be paying your social security (assuming it’s still around by then). I’m sure they’ll resent every minute they have to work for some bitter old bitch who contributes nothing to the world except to complain about the food at the nursing home. So, let’s call it even.

  3. deafgimp
    March 4, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    I don’t know if someone mentioned this or not, but a new article came out that she based her decision on the fact that people simply were not logging in to do work, which means they weren’t working.

  4. tacyray
    February 28, 2013 at 12:51 am #

    I have to disagree with Dr. Amy on this one. First, telecommuting is rare at Google and Facebook. And second, as a mom who tries to work from home, it’s impossible to get anything done with a child under 4 at home with me. This is not anti-mother. It’s pro-Yahoo, and that is Mayer’s job. And yes, other moms working at Yahoo can get their own nursery at work when they become CEO.

    • KarenJJ
      February 28, 2013 at 3:09 am #

      “And second, as a mom who tries to work from home, it’s impossible to get anything done with a child under 4 at home with me.”

      It’s not impossible, you need to sort out adequate childcare while you work. My kids have either had a sitter or gone to daycare while I’ve worked form home.

    • Guestina
      February 28, 2013 at 3:25 pm #

      And yes, other moms working at Yahoo can get their own nursery at work when they become CEO.

      This is a serious Marie Antoinette attitude. Yes, CEOs get perks that other employees don’t, but when you take away an option that allows your employees to better manage their lives while at the very same time giving yourself an option that allows you to better manage your life, you come across as a myopic, selfish asshole.

  5. Guestina
    February 27, 2013 at 8:56 pm #

    Another point I wanted to make is that I hate the way this has been framed as only an issue for women. Men want and need flexible work schedules too. The fathers I know are very involved in caring for their children. About a third of the parents I see picking up kids at my son’s kindergarten are men. What bothers me the most about what Myers has done is that it comes from a position of tremendous privilege with no indication that she has any idea what it’s like for folks in the trenches.

  6. me
    February 27, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    I don’t really understand why Yahoo! made this decision, but I also don’t think it’s fair to frame the conversation around the fact that the CEO is a woman and a new mom. If a man (a new dad even) had made the same decision, I’m positive there wouldn’t be a discussion like this. Whether revoking work at home options is the best policy or not obviously remains to be seen, but to believe without some sort of real proof that Mayers made this decision based on competitive mothering seems anti-feminist in and of itself. I also can’t believe that Ms. Mayers has the time or inclination to spend a lot of time reading parenting websites and discussion groups where a lot of these crazy mothering as competition ideas seem to germinate.

    Also, as someone who has worked at home for years – the last four with small children – working at home does not mean you don’t have to put your kids in childcare. I never attempt to work while my kids are home – it’s too distracting not to mention very unprofessional to be on a conference call while kids are screaming in the background. So, while working at home means less commuting and possibly the ability to live farther from work than would otherwise be possible, it doesn’t automatically translate into a lot more time with the kids.

    • February 27, 2013 at 7:47 pm #

      Not “automatically” but in most cases it does. Because you gain all the time otherwise spent commuting, and because you can get your work done and then you’re DONE, rather than hanging around putting in face-time at the office, which is unfortunately what often happens in working environments….

    • Guestl
      February 28, 2013 at 12:38 am #

      It translates into about two more hours per day with my child than if I had to work in my head office every day. No commuting. No traffic. No getting up earlier to get showered, made up, well dressed.
      No rushing out of work to get my daughter. No running local errands (bank, groceries, drugstore) with my daughter after work – I take an hour a week during the day and get that stuff done.
      My daughter is in daycare, because I’m not particularly efficient with her around. But she’s only there for 8 hours a day, unlike most of her classmates, who are there for 9, 10, 11 hours — because I also get work done at night, once she’s asleep, and because her daycare is within a 5 minute drive of our house.
      Working from home doesn’t allow me to spend more time with my daughter during the day. But it sure does make it easier for me to spend time with her during non-work, weekday hours.

  7. Hannah
    February 27, 2013 at 5:17 pm #

    This is an interesting thesis, and I suspect there may be a lot of truth in it but I wonder whether, in addition to the “competitive mothering,” there isn’t an element of competitive working-mothering as well. Like Dr Amy’s frequent characterisation of extreme AP mothers needing others to emulate them in order to validate the burdens they’ve undertaken, perhaps, consciously or otherwise, Marissa Meyer feels that since she dragged herself into the office two weeks after giving birth, others ought to undergo similar feats as well, and if they manage to do an adequate job whilst making compromises in favour of their family life, then she might be faced with the fact that her sacrifice was ultimately unnecessary.

    Also, I wonder if there’s a subset of highly successful women who feel they have something to prove, in a way that men don’t, and so end up trying to out “heartless capitalist-overlord” the heartless capitalist overlords, to borrow Lindsay Beyerstein’s phrase from down thread. Or maybe the barriers professional women face just select for unusual ruthlessness in the women that break through them.

  8. Dr Kitty
    February 27, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    I was at an educational meeting of fellow Drs last night. We hold them in the evening, and sometimes people can’t come because they have difficulty arranging child are ( typically because the other spouse is a Dr on call that night). One of our number brought her baby, because, well, she decided she’d rather bring the baby and come, than miss out on the meeting. The group consensus was we’d rather have kids there than absent members, so we’re going to see if anyone else wants to do the same next time. A few toddlers colouring or watching DVDs on an iPad shouldn’t be a problem.

    The meeting, BTW was about breast feeding, and the regional Breastfeeding Co-ordinator was the least breastapo, most common sense lactivist I have ever encountered.

  9. notahomebirthlactivist
    February 27, 2013 at 9:14 am #

    I think it is a terribly stupid move when so many workplaces are going the opposite way. My work just brought in flexi hours and more job share positions. I completely agree with Dr. Amy on this one. With both parents in the work force these days, it pays to have arrangements which benefit parents and the family.

  10. February 26, 2013 at 11:11 pm #

    It’s sexist to read guilt into Meyer’s motivations. If a male executive eliminated telecommuting, we’d assume he was just a typical heartless capitalist overlord. We’d never conclude that his decision reflected his feelings of inadequacy as a parent or his jealousy of other parents. We’d take a male CEO at his word that this was a business decision, or we’d chalk it up to plain old sexism, depending how well-founded his decision seemed to be.

    Eliminating telecommuting will have a disproportionate impact on the careers of women with at Yahoo. If the program’s objectively a major drain on the company, the CEO might have a case for cutting it anyway. But if this seems like a gratuitous cut or an empty gesture, we might suspect plain old sexism. We’d wonder if the CEO is either hostile to the advancement of women at Yahoo, or trying to make a public show of making his workplace less female-friendly. We should have the same suspicions of a female CEO.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 26, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      It is unfortunate, but women compete with each other about parenting in a way that men never do. For better or for worse, men don’t seem to worry about how other men care for their children; if they get the job done and make money for the company, how they spend their private time is their own business. In contrast, many women are obsessed with how other women are parenting and act consciously or unconsciously to ensure that their female employees aren’t able to spend more time with their children than the boss is willing to spend with hers.

      It’s not sexist to point out that women can be the worst enemy of other professional women.

      • February 27, 2013 at 12:14 am #

        More women are hyper-competitive parents than men, but not all women are hyper-competitive parents. Not all mothers are hyper-competitive parents, and even most hyper-competitive parents don’t let that dominate every aspect of their lives.

        You can’t infer that because some women are like that, Marissa Meyer must be therefore be like that. That’s sexist. It’s taking a stereotype and generalizing it to an individual without evidence.

        What implications would that logic have for women in management generally? Should we infer that women (or mothers) shouldn’t be allowed to be managers because any decision they make is probably motivated by maternal psychodrama, rather than business acumen?

        • February 27, 2013 at 9:31 am #

          More women are hyper-competitive parents than men, but not all women are hyper-competitive parents.

          That’s an interesting perspective. As far as I am concerned, one aspect of having a child with major disabilities that I remember being very glad about was that I couldn’t and needn’t get involved in the competition. In the early days I watched from the sidelines the anxieties other mothers had, and the various forms of point scoring that went on. Under different circumstance, I might have been sucked into it to – but I wasn’t. Don’t think I would ever have wanted to be Queen Bee by undermining others – so by nature as well as circumstance, probably not hyper-competitive.

          So, yes, I don’t quite see Marissa Meyer measuring her worth that way either. But the fact remains that other women, and men, will. Of course it is sexist, but it is also the way things are.

      • DiomedesV
        February 27, 2013 at 9:03 am #

        Not all women are hypercompetitive parents. The assumption that a woman must be a hypercompetitive parent is itself sexist.

      • fiftyfifty1
        February 28, 2013 at 10:31 am #

        ” many women are obsessed with how other women are parenting and act consciously or unconsciously to ensure that their female employees aren’t able to spend more time with their children than the boss is willing to spend with hers”

        This is Proof by Assertion and nothing more.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          February 28, 2013 at 10:59 am #

          I didn’t offer any proof. It’s just my impression of the situation.

          • fiftyfifty1
            February 28, 2013 at 1:07 pm #

            Many Jews are obsessed with money and act consciously or unconsciously to ensure that other Jews aren’t able to spend more money than they can. That’s why Bernie Maddof did what he did. It’s not antisemitic to point out that Jews can be their own worst enemy. It’s unfortunate, but Jews have a problem with avarice in a way that Christians never do.
            ….what?! Don’t look at me! It’s just my impression of the situation.

          • February 28, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

            Whoa, I saw this listed out of context on the main page, and thought “WTF? What’s next, a shout out to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion?” LOL

  11. Catherine
    February 26, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    I find this whole situation to be terribly sad. As a professional woman with four children, I understand only too well how difficult it is to strike an acceptable balance between work and home. Some professions make it easier than others to achieve that balance. In my profession (law), it’s not nearly as difficult to strike a balance as it is in, say,the medical profession. Doctors can’t work from home. But lawyers can, when they’re not in court or in conference. And information technology is not a profession in which it is difficult to strike a balance – or it shouldn’t be. What Ms Meyer is doing is denying that it is possible to balance workplace activity with domestic responsibilities, and forcing her employees to choose one or the other. And in doing so, she’s essentially telling employees that they either assume her priorities (even though they won’t also be assuming her salary level) or get out.

    This isn’t just a feminist issue, because this new policy will impact on families as a whole. Many men, because they are now required to be in the office all the time, will find that their wives have to stop working outside the home in order to free them up to spend 60 hours per week in the office. Many parents won’t be prepared to see as little of their children as Ms Meyer sees of her child (once her child is no longer in the office). Many people will resign their jobs, and all of the associated corporate memory will be lost. Money will have to be spent to train the new employees who replace the old. Ms Meyer isn’t stupid; she knows all this. Yet she is going ahead with this policy regardless; she is prepared to incur substantial costs for the company in order to impose her attitude to parenting on office staff.

    I think that with time, this woman will change her attitide. The impression I get is that she simply doesn’t want to accept that parenthood forces people to restructure their lives. She was so quick to announce before her baby was born that she’d only take two weeks of maternity leave, but I’ll bet it was tougher than she expected it to be to go back to work full time only two weeks after giving birth, when she was still bleeding and leaking from almost every orifice and her body was still trying to recover from the shock of it all. I have seen this kind of thing before. I have plenty of female colleagues who have gone into motherhood adamant that it won’t stop them from putting in 60 hours per week at the office, it won’t stop them from attending work functions after dark and it won’t stop them from being available to clients 24-7-365. They have their babies, they return to work in a matter of weeks obviously emotionally disconnected from their babies, they carry on just as they did before their babies were born… and then, at about the 12-month mark, they crash and burn with exhaustion and are forced to admit that they just have to restructure their lives and reassess their priorities. Sometimes it doesn’t happen at the 12-month mark, but it happens when they have a second child. And when it happens, there is not only profound physical and mental exhaustion to deal with, but also a tremendous amount of guilt that they allowed the balance to be so out of kilter for so long.

    It will be interesting to see how Ms Meyer is travelling a year or two from now. She may be fine, but I’ll bet she isn’t.

    • February 27, 2013 at 9:58 am #

      A few years ago, we had our own version of Wonder Woman here in the UK. Nicola Horlick, high flying City presence, mother of six children.

      Out of curiosity, I looked her up yesterday. I found it interesting that she didn’t appear in women’s magazines or blogs much. Most of the reporting was done by men on the Financial Pages, so not much to be gleaned about any regrets she might have. Fabulously wealthy, she is clearly a phenomenon – has added three step-children to her collection.

      I have never believed women can have it all – sacrifices and choices have to be made, and we all have to figure it out for ourselves. Women sometimes have to be more macho than the men to succeed at very high levels, and I agree that this kind of policy coming from a woman is sad.

      • KarenJJ
        February 28, 2013 at 4:59 am #

        It would be interesting to know more about how some women manage it. I can only imagine a full time nanny/housekeeper/SAHD? Sending the kids to boarding school at a young age? I don’t know… There’s a doctor near me that has six kids, won an Order of Australia and has done research into spray on skin. She cared for a guy I knew from high school who got caught up pretty badly in the Bali bombings and by all accounts is a great doctor and person. I’ve no idea what she’s like as a mother and I get very curious about that.. I can imagine she’d need to be very organised and very pragmatic about raising kids.

    • me
      February 27, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      “Many people will resign their jobs, and all of the associated corporate memory will be lost” – maybe she’s making this decision to reduce staff without having to announce layoffs?

    • fiftyfifty1
      February 28, 2013 at 1:54 pm #

      “return to work in a matter of weeks obviously emotionally disconnected from their babies”
      Yet again the bogus concept of “bonding” being used as a weapon against ambitious women. How come nobody is lobbing this accusation against working dads?

      • notahomebirthlactivist
        March 1, 2013 at 12:39 am #

        is the concept of bonding bogus? I have not met a mother yet who would agree with you there. I have met plenty of ambitious women, including my own mum, who had much more of a career than my dad and worked longer hours. However, I don’t know of any mum who felt that the first few months weren’t valuable for attachment with their new child, or who was eager to return to full time work when their baby was under 6 weeks of age.. My understanding is that babies are born with a need for an attachment to a significant carer to bond with. This is often the mum, but doesn’t have to be. Is it not true that physical touch, the familiarity of the parents face and voice, having needs met in a reasonable time frame etc creates a sense of security for the child and builds their trust? I have never heard anyone refer to the idea of mother and child bonding as bogus. I returned to work when both of my kids were around 6 months and found it hard but not horrible. I don’t think mothers should be persecuted for wanting to get back to a career. I love my job. I also dont think women need to be with their children 24/7 to be good parents, or create secure children. This is why I don’t like attachment parenting. it puts far too much pressure on the mother alone. However, the relationship between the parent and child is still important and if you are spending no time together at all, I think this would fracture the bond somewhat. I imagine that’s why Mayer had a creche next to her office.. so she could still be with her 2 week old baby. This is why I would also argue that fathers needs to be present in their childrens lives too, instead of the old school idea that it didn’t matter that Dad was at work 14 hours, 7 days a week and then came home, showered, had a beer, and went to bed. A good father “back then” was one who made it to football games and bounced the baby on his knee. That didn’t matter, because Mum is there to do all the parenting. Fathers need to bond with their children too. Either way, both mothers and fathers should be aiming to strike a work/life balance. How can a child have a relationship with a parent who is never there. Again, I am a working parent, I am not arguing against being a working parent, but questioning your statement that the concept of bonding is a bogus idea to keep women at home.

        • notahomebirthlactivist
          March 1, 2013 at 12:41 am #

          hmm sorry for the long long paragraph. Not sure I conveyed what I am trying to say.

        • March 1, 2013 at 5:43 am #

          is the concept of bonding bogus?

          I don’t think it is bogus at all – but it has sure got overcomplicated.

          I am intrigued by what bits of research I have seen on how baby’s recognise their mother’s voice, face maybe. Smell? It would be lovely if we could know a bit more about the world of the newborn.

          (I am an identical twin, whose sister died shortly after birth. Can I “know” that?)

          Babies bond to their mothers, other caregivers. But I don’t think they are born with the conception “This is my mother. She is meant to do X, Y and Z. If she doesn’t, I am ruined.” SOMEBODY has to do X,Y and Z. – keep a child clean, fed, warm and comforted. But given the sensations that bombard a child, are they really going to be aware of the difference between candles and bright lights? Are we ducklings, imprinted on what we first see?

          I was separated from mine – don’t remember precisely how long. Not anything like as long as the mothers of micro-premmies. She appeared to know who I was and we both liked a cuddle. I wish (of course I wish) she had had a better start, but I don’t grieve that the bond was irreparably damaged.

          • March 1, 2013 at 6:10 am #

            Sorry, over responding as usual.

            Could there be a difference between a newborn’s need to be held – and an older infant’s developing preference for one set of arms over another? Bonding v liking, perhaps.

            My husband was a workaholic detached dad in the old style. He certainly bonded – but was not a very involved father once the children got old enough to demand more than he was inclined to give. (He regrets that now, and realises what he missed) My children, especially the youngest, wanted more from him than he gave, and did suffer as a consequence. Adult daughter has daddy issues! But this was about affection and attention – the bond, the deep love and concern, is there somewhere!

            When mine were small, I was thin and flat chested. My sister had a more matronly figure – and my two both clearly loved snuggling up to her more ample breasts. They loved their grandmother too, though distance meant it was not a close, constant relationship. It was once pointed out to me by a child psychiatrist that children bond to bad parents, too. So, again, what is nature and what is nurture? Reducing it to some ritual doesn’t seem that helpful to me.

          • TiffanyEpiphany
            March 1, 2013 at 6:46 am #

            I enjoy your responses.

        • KarenJJ
          March 1, 2013 at 6:07 am #

          I don’t think that bonding is bogus but I do think that a lot of the stuff touted to ‘promote’ bonding is.

          Maybe I’m missing something but for me to be ‘bonded’ to a baby means that you feel responsible for it’s care and that you are in love with it, or failing that (as someone that takes a while to fall in love), that you are planning to be in love with it in the future and hopefully sooner than later.

          • notahomebirthlactivist
            March 2, 2013 at 9:13 am #

            True, but that’s only focussing on the relationship of the parent to the baby. What about the babies attachment to their parents? The baby is going to bond with whoever is most available and doing most of the caring aren’t they?? I am talking purely about very young infants here, not older babies or toddlers, who already have a strong attachment to their parents.

  12. February 26, 2013 at 10:27 pm #

    This is really awful! I took from the article she still has the nursery next to her office! How unfair of her! Who builds a private company nursery just for their own child! Unless she bought a piece of land adjacent to Yahoo! and had the nursery built there, this seems really inappropriate. Also, Micromanaging is not the way. I don’t see this ending well for her! Having all your employees resent and dislike you is not productive!

    • KarenJJ
      February 27, 2013 at 2:08 am #

      A bit like the CEO banning golf days after having installed a putting green for their use in the office next to them (I work for a company that still does golf days) in order to keep up their golfing statistics.

      Good for morale that one!

  13. February 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    Huh, there was a new comment from Dr. Amy with a link from Farhad Manjoo at Slate, but now I can’t see it. (I am beginning to see why others complain about the DISQUS comment system.) Very interesting–I’ve always liked Manjoo, including especially the deal he does with another writer talking about etiquette in the digital age.

    BTW, Dr. A: I just noticed there is a typo in this post’s headline, FYI.

    • Therese
      February 26, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

      I’m having a lot of problems with disappearing comments today as well.

    • TiffanyEpiphany
      February 26, 2013 at 9:56 pm #

      Alan, you don’t have to correct people’s errors publicly, you know. Just shoot her an email if it bothers you that much.

      • Louise L
        February 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

        I’ve disagreed with just about everything Alan has posted but for goodness sake. All the regulars let Dr Amy know about typos in exactly this manner – i.e. politely pointing it out. Just because Alan said it, I don’t think he needs to be jumped on. LOL

        • TiffanyEpiphany
          February 27, 2013 at 11:43 am #

          okay then, my mistake.

      • February 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

        I was trying to be helpful, and I would call it a typo rather than an error.

        • TiffanyEpiphany
          February 27, 2013 at 11:51 am #

          Okay, I’m in the wrong. I am sorry.

    • TiffanyEpiphany
      February 27, 2013 at 11:44 am #

      Alan, I am sorry if I jumped on you. I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me.

      • February 27, 2013 at 4:17 pm #

        Absolutely…you are nice on occasion. ;-). (I have always thought your screen name was very clever btw.)

        • TiffanyEpiphany
          February 27, 2013 at 4:27 pm #


          The kids on the playground used to call me that as a way to make fun of my name since nothing else rhymed with it. Coming in handy now 🙂

          • February 27, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

            Wow, precocious kids!

  14. February 26, 2013 at 9:04 pm #

    She is the CEO and of course she can build a nursery next to her office! Has she forgotten that women who work in cubicles don’t have that option? Is she going to provide free on sight daycare for working parents? If not, then it doesn’t seem fair that only she be allowed to have her child with her at work. Supposedly she wants to stop telecommuting because people are doing other projects like free-lancing on the side. I think there are other things a company could do to mitigate that. This decision will make a lot of people upset, not just moms. I’m sure it will backfire on Yahoo since flexible work arrangements are considered the norm in the tech industry–people will just go to other companies that allow them.

  15. Meerkat
    February 26, 2013 at 8:05 pm #

    I was thinking about this post all day, getting angrier and angrier. I left my job to be take care of my son, because my former employer created work policies and environment that was virtually incompatible with parenthood. I remember weeks and weeks of required weekend hours, passive-aggressive emails instructing management to tell employees that they will be required to work 12 hour shifts for ” wants and needs of the company.” My boss, a mother herself, told me with perverse pride that she never saw her child during the week, because of the long commute and mandatory overtime. “Would you take the full 12 week FMLA? Hmmm…I was back at work after 4 weeks!” It was implied that once I gave birth, I would be expected to follow suit. I had 2 choices- to stay and never see my baby, or to quit and raise him. I am fortunate that my husband makes enough to allow me to stay home.
    Marissa Meyer did something deplorable- she took away her employee’s choices. She is fortunate enough to have many choices in how to combine parenhood with career- she can, no doubt, afford a nanny, maybe even to buy a house very close to work, etc, etc, etc…but telecommuting might be the only way some women can combine work and motherhood!
    This is in contrast to an another CEO, Thea Breen, of Estée Lauder.

  16. Sue
    February 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Not sure I’m too worried about what this woman does…women throughout history have had assistance with baby care and child-rearing – from wet-nurses to nannies to ayahs in the eastern world. This woman presents one extreme way of coping, where the child is close to her rather than at home. I get the point of the discussion, but I don;t see it setting any precedents.

    • KarenJj
      February 26, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

      Unless you work for Yahoo (I don’t, but I do work for a large multinational). I’ve relied on different practices to get through the past year of juggling a cross-country move, a return to work from maternity leave and both myself and my daughter needing a lot of medical care, especially my daughter who was found to regressing badly without medication (all good now).

      I personally am a fan of going into the office, working at my desk and meeting my colleagues and customers face to face. But I have relied on telecommuting, working part time and switching days around appointments in order to keep my hours up. My managers have been OK with this, although it’s not really part of my work culture.

      Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she might be trying to create a more communicative and collaborative workplace and maybe has needed to move hard and fast on this. But ultimatums from above that don’t allow for individual managers and individual employees to have some control over how they manage their work week would make it incredibly difficult for families and others that have unpaid caring roles on top of work. She will likely lose a lot of those employees, some which would have been loyal and have a lot of company knowledge.

      Anyway, I wonder how she’ll change given that her child is very young, she can afford to arrange and manage things differently to other parents and her child, presumably, is in good health. Not all parents have that. I also wonder how the company will change, given how popular working from home is with Yahoo.

    • February 26, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

      I think the issue is not her having her child at work, it’s her not building a company daycare so everyone can have their child at work.

      • KarenJJ
        February 26, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

        That would have made a lot more sense to do prior to banning telecommuting. Does Yahoo not have onsite daycare?

  17. Amy
    February 26, 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    I really struggle with parents having careers, and how I feel about it. I am a stay at home mom, and my husband has a very dangerous job that takes him away from home A LOT. Like, collectively, more than half of the days of the year not seeing his kids. And he is about to start a new job that will be more dangerous, and away just as much, if not more. And sometimes I just wonder what goes through his mind that makes him think that’s a good decision for his children. His new job advances us economically only slightly…

    All that to say, sometimes I don’t know why people who are so career oriented and work ALL THE TIME even want to have children in the first place. I love my husband, and without him I wouldn’t have the two beautiful babies that I have, but I just wonder what it is about people that makes some love their careers more than their family.

    If you’re 37 and having your first baby, then you go back to work two weeks later, it kind of seems like you are just having a baby for the novelty of having a baby. Why have a baby if you are going to work 100 hours a week* and pay someone else to raise your child? (not knocking daycare, I am assuming the CEO of yahoo! probably has at least one 24/7 nanny for her kid)

    *I don’t know how many hours she works, just a random number I made up.

    • fiftyfifty1
      February 26, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      Did your husband have a baby just for the novelty of it? Because it sounds like Melissa Meyer is spending more time with her kid than your husband is spending with his.

      • Amy
        February 26, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

        I can’t answer that question…I know he loves his kids, but sometimes I wonder why you would chose for them to have that kind of life. In that same vein, I suppose I love my kids less than someone else who didn’t chose to marry someone with such a difficult job?

        Lots of food for thought. I love my kids, and I love my husband…I just wonder what goes through the mind of someone who makes the decision to have long hours after you already have your kid.

        • Amy
          February 26, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

          Perhaps having his kids’ mom at home all the time taking care of them, being a constant in their lives makes him feel better about his decision. I don’t know.

          As a mother, I feel like a decision like that would and should weigh a lot more heavily on a mother. Not that fathers don’t love their children, but men are just “wired” differently emotionally. Same reason they don’t hear babies crying.

          • CarolynTheRed
            February 26, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

            My husband could recognize our daughter’s cry from others on the first night we had her. Me, I still have to look to tell (will admit I’ve been faked by a cat). We’re not all the same.

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 26, 2013 at 9:19 pm #

            I can actually recognized the different cries of all the babies/children I know. Even if I don’t know them that well. Although, it doesn’t stop me from being tricked by the TV sometimes.

          • Amy
            February 26, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

            I’m not talking about differentiating cries, I’m just talking about the /feeling/ you get when your own baby is crying.

          • CarolynTheRed
            February 27, 2013 at 9:46 am #

            Once again, speak only for yourself. I don’t think I’ve spoken with a parent who isn’t uncomfortable hearing their baby crying. My husband finds the crying he can’t stop the hardest part of being home alone with our daughter – it affects him more than me, because he’s gone back to work, and I am more used to it.

          • Amy M
            February 27, 2013 at 10:40 am #

            Yes, I agree with husband cannot handle crying that goes on and on. We were lucky in that our babies weren’t colicky, but as they got older (and still now (at age 4)) will cry when they want something and we don’t give it. My husband is more of a sucker and will give in to the crying to make it stop. We let them have pacifiers to sleep for far too long, because my husband was afraid of nightly meltdowns.

            I was so proud of one of them last night…he asked for something that I didn’t want to give (junk food when it was time to get ready for bed) and he cried. I acknowledged his disappointment, and he went to his room to calm down, then came back and asked for a hug. When hug was given, he stopped crying, and the evening continued as planned. My husband is far more likely to have given him the junk food.

          • C T
            February 27, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

            The current science on this indicates that while both sexes are affected by a baby’s crying, women tend to be more affected. See, among others,,, and
            Of course, individuals don’t always match up with group trends.

          • KarenJJ
            February 26, 2013 at 9:50 pm #

            “Same reason they don’t hear babies crying.”

            I’m hearing impaired – I relied on my husband hearing them.

          • Amy
            February 26, 2013 at 10:40 pm #

            I’m sorry, I guess I should have elaborated…it has been my experience that a baby crying does not cause a man the same kind of emotionally draining anxiety that it does a woman. My husband, and lots of other dads I know, could listen to their kids cry all day long and it wouldn’t really phase them. Where as for me, when my kids are crying, I am a wreck and can’t focus on anything until whatever problem is fixed. Crying just affects men and women differently.

          • February 27, 2013 at 3:31 am #

            Yes, that is true of my wife and me.

          • fiftyfifty1
            February 28, 2013 at 10:39 am #

            It’s reversed for me and my husband. Does that make us Unnatural?

          • Amy
            February 28, 2013 at 10:57 am #

            I think it makes you unusual.

          • CarolynTheRed
            February 28, 2013 at 11:23 am #

            It’s also reversed for me and my husband.

            I have seen the MRI studies, and hesitate to read too much into small studies that can’t control for previous experience. I mean, that women are more likely to have been given responsibilities for younger relatives and to have babysat. Adults can have differences in brain response due to “nature”, but also due to experience.

        • KarenJJ
          February 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

          “I knew if I had a career, I would want to pursue it 100% and not have much time for kids. ”

          It doesn’t have to be 100%. Most parents I know built up a career in their 20s, had kids in their 30s and went back part time after a year off for maternity leave. Most of us rely on some flexible work practices and good maternity leave to do this. It means that we don’t have to choose either way. The career doesn’t do much while the kids are little, mine is just ticking over, but it’s keeping my mind engaged, my skills sort of up to date and my network current. In a couple of years both kids will be in school full time and then I’ll be able to go back to more – and hopefully will have a career in tact.

    • Sue
      February 26, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Amy – what would the world be like if career-orientated people didn’t have children? Only non-family-orientated people would be psychologists, midwives, lawyers, nurses, teachers, doctors etc. Would that make the world a better place?

      • Amy
        February 26, 2013 at 8:39 pm #

        There is a difference I think in being career oriented and being a workaholic absentee parent.

        • Amy
          February 26, 2013 at 8:40 pm #

          My husband works a lot, and works very hard. For me, the time away from his children is not my biggest reason for thinking his career choices are selfish. For me, the dangerous nature of his job is what makes me a bit resentful that he is making the conscious decision to potentially leave his children fatherless.

    • Certified Hamster Midwife
      February 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

      Because her fertility window is closing and she doesn’t want to *not* have had children, I imagine.

    • Gene
      February 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

      I had my first at 36 and second at 38 and was working as a fellow (training after residency). Easier than the 80/hrs a week as a resident but not much. Being an attending with kids is easier than during training, but I still work full time. I love my job and I love my kids. I am a better person because of both. But because I work, I should be denied a family?

      And why does no one question a father’s commitment to parenting when he works?

    • theadequatemother
      February 26, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

      I think you seem to be equating time spent with the kids as a measure of love…is that right? quality not quantity is my motto. i spend more time at my job than with my kid. In 4 years my kid will spend more time at his job (school) than with me, even if I was a SAHM. But if I had to give up my job for the well being of my child (say if he was diagnosed with cancer for example) I would do so immediately. I don’t think love can be measured by comparing hours.

      • Amy
        February 26, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

        I’m not trying to equate time with love, or say moms should never work. I’m talking about extremes. It does take SOME time to build a solid relationship with any person, including your own child. It seems like the lady in the post is a bit of an extremist when it comes to work.

      • notahomebirthlactivist
        March 1, 2013 at 2:37 am #

        the needs of a 6 month old or 2 or 5 year old is very different from the needs of a 2 week old though. I would think quantity and quality go hand in hand for a newborn. They dont have the ability to go “Oh bummer, mum and dad are at work today, but later we are going to go the park.” Your kids, like mine and many working parents, hopefully have a solid sense of security in their relationship with their parents, because we have been there consistently from the beginning. I don’t know if that foundation is really going to be there, with either parent, if the child hardly sees the parents and is mostly cared for by nannies or child care workers from 2 weeks of age. Obviously I have nothing to back up my opinion on this besides psychological theories etc.. I still think I’m right though 😀 I don’t think Mayer is evil or a bad mother though, she has been made out to be a monster by some, which is definitely sexist, unless we are going to call her husband a bad father too.

        • March 1, 2013 at 4:41 am #

          I would think quantity and quality go hand in hand for a newborn.

          But do they KNOW that bonding will be ruined if they are not held constantly by their parents?

          Wasn’t the original attachment theory based on the idea that babies who don’t receive ANY holding, or loving attention, struggle?

          My husband’s aunt was a doctor, who qualified when it was really tough for women in medicine. She had four children, but was not a devoted mother. Her children were cared for by a nanny/housekeeper – and I was quite shocked to be introduced to her by the youngest, then in her thirties, with “And this is my real mother.”

          As I have said before, the area I live in has a lot of yummie mummies, and most of THEM employed a nanny – whether they had careers or not. These particular nannies were well qualified, and the children devoted – but then they would move on to another baby when the child started school. That always seemed to be a bit of a problem to me.

          My own desire to stay at home was consciously motivated by the fact that I didn’t get a whole lot of attention from my mother – but I was also aware that the children who had been sent to day care seemed more confident and independent than mine were, closeted at home getting constant attention. It evened itself out over time.

          In short, I can’t see that there is any one way, any ideal. We all make mistakes, and can only hope our children end up with the reslilience to deal with them. My children, as adults, are still close – as I said the other day, I sometimes think too close.(There is a whole lot more to mothering than holding or co-sleeping with a baby, and sometimes I think I would like a rest.) Sometimes, with my younger daughter, we discuss incidents from childhood – things she liked, things she resented or found difficult – and her views and memories do not always coincide with mine. Things I did with the best of intentions got misread, and things I felt guilty about didn’t get noticed!)

          • March 1, 2013 at 5:00 am #

            On the same note as above: the BBC has just shown a programme called Child in Our Time – a long term project which follows families of children born in 2000. It is a mixture of interviews with the parents and the children, who are now, of course, 12.

            There was a similar programme to this some years ago, which ended with the “children” in their 30s, I think. The format is to move backwards and forwards in time, contrasting the ambitions of the parents, the ambitions of a seven year old, with what happens later. What was so striking in that one was the gap between the shining promise of the children, and what they became as adults. Anything but predictable – and didn’t seem to have a lot to do with parenting styles.

            It is fascinating to watch. Several things struck me – the way children handled parental conflicts and divorce, (50%) what children had to say about the importance of their grandparents. One really startling – and sad – bit was the young girl who lost her mother when she was eight. She clearly missed her mother a lot, but her conclusion, aged 12, was: “It wasn’t all bad.”

          • notahomebirthlactivist
            March 2, 2013 at 9:40 am #

            My mum lost her mother when she was 2. She literally went out one day, and died, and never got to come home to her kids. Mum says she still has fleeting memories of feeling sad 🙁 She was then raised in a convent with nuns for quite a few years, as back then, it wasn’t really thought that fathers could look after babies by themselves. She went back to her father when she was a bit older. I think it has definitely shaped how she parented us, and how she has relationships too. I guess it’s that whole nature vs nurture thing though.

          • notahomebirthlactivist
            March 2, 2013 at 9:33 am #

            of course, and I agree that nobody does everything right. I mean who am I to judge anyone for doing things the right or wrong way? Like I have said before, we are all going to make mistakes somewhere.. but I am not referring to a scenario where a child is merely “not held constantly”.. I think that is about Dr sears brand of attachment parenting, and NOT attachment theory. I am simply saying that if, from the very earliest weeks of a babies life, someone besides the parents is doing most of the caring and nurturing, that is probably going to have some impact on the babies relationship with their parents.

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

      And I really struggle with SAHMs raising daughters.

      Okay, I don’t, but I hope you see the other side of the coin. I want to show my daughter what my mom showed me: that hard work and dedication can lead to a rich, rewarding, highly-compensated career. When I was little, I was so proud that my mom had a secretary. I thought that was just amazing. I guess I still do, considering she dropped out of college when she got pregnant with me in her early 20s.

      Yes, I want to spend time with my little girl, who is the light of my life and a source of endless delight, but more than that, I want to give her an example of professionalism and strong worth ethic.

    • JC
      February 26, 2013 at 10:31 pm #

      I stay home with my kids. But it is mainly because I was not happy with my job/career at the time I got pregnant. And I made pretty good money working at a university. I was not a tenured professor, but I have a master’s degree and I could easily have started working on a PhD and gone that direction.

      I completely agree with the comments below about giving your kids a good example. But that means showing them you are happy. I was not happy in my job, as I am sure some moms are miserable staying home but are doing it because they feel it is best.

      I would say parenting is certainly not a “one-size-fits-all” mentality. Just because I would have been miserable at work doesn’t mean another mom wouldn’t be very happy at work. I know I will go back to work when my kids are in school. And I know my husband loves his career and is setting a good example. I hope to be a good example too when my kids are older.

      Just because I spend so much time with my kids, I don’t expect or look down on other parents who don’t spend as much time with their kids. And, honestly, not all that time is quality time. Much of it is cooking and cleaning and driving to and from school and sports. I am often jealous of my husband because he crams so much quality time in the few hours a day he has with them.

      • February 27, 2013 at 10:33 am #

        I have always been a bit suspicious of the “quality time” argument, as I think children prefer quantity to quality – but yes, it is easier to be responsive to the demands of small children in smaller doses.

        On the other hand, I did worry about what kind of role model I was to daughters being a SAHM. Children are pretty adaptable – it is the benefit to mothers that counts when it comes to working.

        I got back into part-time work when my children started school – and was gobsmacked to find they resented it. It didn’t alter their routine much at all – but they seemed to have an image of “mummy” as my only identity, centred on them – in some kind of suspended animation in their absence. Now, my daughter will boast about my multi-tasking, and I have had other young women say wistfully “I wish my mother had….”

    • Durango
      February 27, 2013 at 9:42 am #

      I wish I had had already started my career when the kids were little and maybe gone to part time when they were teens. They have zero memory of all that infancy/preschool time together, but they will remember how absent I was when they were teens. And they’re so much more interesting and fun now that they’re older. I love having teenagers.

    • Guestl
      February 27, 2013 at 10:31 am #

      Amy, you’ve written below that you chose between two vocations — motherhood and advertising. So I’m going to assume that you’ve never felt the deep satisfaction of, say, succeeding on a project that was deemed a failure by others, or, becoming the first woman to do what you do within your company, or, in my case, actually physically witnessing how what I do, in even a small way, helps to transform the lives of families experiencing extreme poverty and injustice.

      Those are all powerful things. Are they more powerful than motherhood? No. Maybe. Yes. It depends, largely, on where you are in your life, how old your children are, what your expectations are of your own self, what your organization expects of you, the needs and demands of your children…in short, it’s not at all simple.

      My husband and I were 42 and almost 40 when our daughter was born. We were those people who worked all of the time, we were those people who put our careers first — especially my husband, who still, to some extent, does. It’s part of our identity, Amy. My husband has spent 20 years with the same company, he’s well respected in his field and he derives immense satisfaction (most days) from his work. Does having a child make that less so? Is she supposed to? Or instead of subtracting, does she add to it? Or is it both? Again, not that simple.

      I really, really, REALLY resent the assumption that Mayer had her son for the novelty of it. THIS is competitive Mommying — to assume that your choices — to not have a career, to have your children young — are somehow more valid than hers, that your reasons for having a child are of greater merit.

      • KarenJJ
        February 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

        Really love this comment Guestl.

  18. February 26, 2013 at 6:02 pm #

    I don’t exactly see this as competitive mothering quite in the sense you imply – though I suppose it is in the sense of “If I can do it this way, so should everyone else.” It is a denial of the complexities of women’s lives as not everyone can build their own nursery, or pay for the kind of help that makes high flying relatively uncomplicated.

  19. attitude devant
    February 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm #

    in re: the photo…
    My father was a famously workaholic orthopedic surgeon and physician. LOVED his work beyond all reason. He retired at 70 and lived into his 80s. Shortly before he died, I spent some time with him at his home. One day he looked thoughtful and said “If I had to over again, I’d do some things differently.” (Ah! Here comes self-realization, thought I.) “Really, Dad?” “Yes,” he said, “I think I would have focussed more on those Swiss joint reconstruction techniques and gotten really good at those.”

    Sigh. Let’s just say I learned from his mistakes.

    • fiftyfifty1
      February 26, 2013 at 7:26 pm #

      Sounds like he died happy.

      • attitude devant
        February 27, 2013 at 9:34 am #

        after his fashion, yes……

  20. February 26, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Wow, I agree with almost all of this. Blow me down…

  21. Guest
    February 26, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    I am not entirely sure that she will be spending less time with her kids than other women because she has made a nursery right off her office. Basically she is saying that only she can have the advantages of work and home. However in her defense there is no indication that this is a permanent ban. Maybe they just need a bit of time to get everyone together and on the same page and then they will slowly reintroduce it back in.

    • KarenJJ
      February 26, 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      That’s what I was wondering. Yahoo apparently has a very high proportion of telecommuting employees. That said, this is now a policy that affects a large proportion of workers.

  22. DiomedesV
    February 26, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

    “If only I had spent more time working.”

    I can completely imagine saying that, and I am a mother. There are certain projects that are very important to me. And if I don’t finish them, I will be disappointed, no matter how fulfilling childrearing is.

    • fiftyfifty1
      February 26, 2013 at 7:34 pm #

      I agree. There are a lot of women out there who would probably be happier and more fulfilled working *more* than they are now. But right now, there are only 2 socially acceptable answers for women to the work/home balance dilema: quit work altogether to stay home or strike some sort of work-home balance whereby both are equally important. The other idea, the idea of a woman prioritizing work over child raising is still beyond the pale. When a woman does this she is demonized like Ms. Meyer is above. Men do it all the time and their stay-at-home wives write them love letters making them out to be heroes for showing up to dance recitals and soccer games. But woe to the woman who considers such a plan….

      • February 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

        To me, progress is made when men do this less, not when women do it more.

        • fiftyfifty1
          February 26, 2013 at 10:36 pm #

          To me progress is when people are able to follow the path that suits them best.

          • T.
            February 27, 2013 at 3:43 am #

            I wish I could like this comment so much…

      • KarenJJ
        February 26, 2013 at 9:10 pm #

        “There are a lot of women out there who would probably be happier and more fulfilled working *more* than they are now.”

        This would be me. I’d like to pick up more work days, but we’ve had a couple of unsettling years and I want the kids to feel stable and happy and settled before I change everything too much.

      • Anonomom
        February 27, 2013 at 9:30 am #

        Jimmy Carter’s book about his Mom showed how much he respected and loved her, and how her working outside the home had a positive influence on him. Great book.

      • notahomebirthlactivist
        February 28, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

        I agree, although I think its becoming less acceptable to be honest- but I think the answer to this double standard is not for women to start putting family second, it is to encourage men to stop putting work before family. Family needs to be prioritized, by mothers, fathers and more progressive workplaces. Mayers plan is also detrimental to fathers, not just mothers. More men are choosing to stay home, more families want to split the work load. Provided women get a reasonable amount of maternity leave, I think a lot more couples would like to follow that up with dad staying home or going part time. We did that in my family, and my parents Did it way back in the 80s when it was really uncommon. It worked well. There is a time where most women want to be at home, but the idea that women should hold down the fort for many years and fathers need to be out working long days, away from their families.. it might work for some but it also stressful and depressing for many.

  23. Gretta
    February 26, 2013 at 3:54 pm #

    But would your opinion have been the same if it were a man CEO? Or is it a case of the man is “assertive and brave” and the woman is a ” competitive bitch”?

    • KarenJJ
      February 26, 2013 at 9:52 pm #

      It’s an asshole approach either way. Men also benefit from telecommuting and I would still believe it was a competitive ‘bitchy’ thing to do if a male CEO had implemented it.

  24. Expat in Germany
    February 26, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    As a half-time employee, I work from home 3 days a week and spend 2 days at the office. I have 3 kids, one of which is 4 months old. During my 2 days at the office, my husband takes over for a few hours. Even though my husband often travels the other 3 days of the week, I have managed to get my job done despite sick kids and teachers’ strikes. Without this flexibility. it would be an all or nothing proposition and I would have to choose nothing. Having to take vacation days every time -something comes up- would leave me with none after a short while. The fact that I put in way more than the 20 hours a week that I am required to do makes me a bargain employee who is able to keep her career on life support despite having small children.
    I think Marissa Meyer simply hasn’t had enough kids to appreciate that the needs of a 7 year old are not the same as the needs of a newborn who can be stuffed under the desk for naptime. If she thinks she can work 80 hours a week in the office and still be ‘mom’, I think she is mistaken. She might, however, be able to work 80 hours a week partly from home where her child can see her and bug her as she hacks away at her email.
    Nevertheless, her motivation for increasing employee face-time may be practical and not a feminist statement. There may be a communication problem that she is trying to fix.. still, if the internet has shown us anything, it is that the old modes of communication aren’t the only game in town.

    • Bombshellrisa
      February 26, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      I think you are right, wait until she has a curious, crawling baby who gets into everything and can climb out of the pack and play and we will see what happens.

  25. Charlotte
    February 26, 2013 at 2:37 pm #

    The fact that my husband’s company allows him to telecommute when needed and has flexible hours (come in any time between 7 and 9 and leave 9 hours later, which would be between 4 and 6 depending on your arrival) is the entire reason he is staying put rather than seeking another job that pays him industry standard. We’re willing to forego to the several extra thousand he could be making each year just because the flexibility is such a benefit to our family. He also never takes a sick day – he just telecommutes when he has the flu. Some people abuse telecommuting, but it can be important for employ retention, productivity, and morale with the right people.

    • I don't have a creative name
      February 26, 2013 at 5:49 pm #

      That sounds like an awesome set-up. My hubs had a sweet telecommuting deal, but gave it up to try and further his career. Still wonder if we made a mistake…

    • I don't have a creative name
      February 26, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

      Oh, and can I ask what company lets him pick his own time to come in? My husband would be so all over that. (you don’t have to answer if you feel it reveals too much private info)

      • AmyM
        February 26, 2013 at 6:22 pm #

        I can pick when I get in also—usually between 7/7:30, so I can leave by 4p. When the children go to school instead of daycare, I may have to shift my whole day down an hour. I guess I could sleep later in that case, so it wouldn’t be too bad. I am also lucky in that I have a fairly short commute and a very reasonable and fair boss.

        However, I cannot telecommute because I work in a lab and require all sorts of lab equipment and space to do my job. I have reports to write and occasionally presentations, which I can work on at home, but these do not take up enough time in general to be able to telecommute on a regular basis.

        • KarenJJ
          February 26, 2013 at 9:12 pm #

          I can choose too. We have set hours (I think between 10am and 3pm? should check that) where we need to be available, but can work the hours around that.

      • Charlotte
        February 26, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

        I’m not sure whether the flexible hours are just for the office in our state, but if your husband is willing to move or you already live in NC I’d be happy to email you the name.

      • Sullivan ThePoop
        February 26, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

        My husband can basically come in whenever he wants and only has to spend 2 hours a day actually in the office. Mostly he is meeting with clients, at job sites, or designing at home on his computer.

    • Dr Kitty
      February 27, 2013 at 4:31 am #

      Are you me?

      My Hub is in IT- he works 2 or 3 days a week from home, flexitime with occasional overtime (weekends or after the kiddo is asleep) at home and this means that he can do pickups and drops off to childcare, and look after the kiddo from 5 until I get home from work.

      Mostly he works 8-4, working over lunch. He is extremely disciplined and focused on his work, so being at home doesn’t dent his productivity.

      His work set up is hugely attractive, given that I have very little flexibility in mine, and a big reason why he has stayed with his current employer.

  26. Charlotte
    February 26, 2013 at 2:10 pm #

    OT, but someone on banned by the feminist breeder is saying Gina has threatened to publish the real names and addresses (she said she’d find them via IP address….somehow) of anyone who has “liked” a comment on her facebook page that she doesn’t like, or who has left a comment that wasn’t 100% positive. She says it would be to “out” all the trolls. Crazy much? I wouldn’t put it past her.

    • GuestB
      February 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

      Glad you posted this. I gave up Facebook for Lent and was wondering about the latest TFB drama.

      • Charlotte
        February 26, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

        Oh wow, apparently she found out the name of someone who called CPS about another blogger’s toddler’s tragic but suspicious death, and the only reason she isn’t calling the police on the caller is that she is out of state and thinks it would be a messy process.

        • Charlotte
          February 26, 2013 at 2:58 pm #

          So it turns out it is actually the name of the person who called the police on her for posting suicide threats, but still. She can’t stop taking internet drama into real life.

          • GuestB
            February 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

            This is way better than All My Children. Thanks for the update!

          • Bombshellrisa
            February 26, 2013 at 3:15 pm #

            Some people just have to have the drama and when they don’t have it, they will simply find a way to supply that need!

        • mollyb
          February 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

          Her fans reactions to that blog post are histrionic and alarming. Dozens of “OMG. What an asshole! How horrible. Bullying, etc etc.” Not a single reaction acknowledging that perhaps the person who called CPS on this mother had some legitimate fears for her surviving children. Her open acknowledgement of her drug use doesn’t bother me but I can see how a lot of people might find it troubling, especially combined with her child’s mysterious death. In any case, a very sad story.

          • Charlotte
            February 26, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

            I feel HORRIBLE for the mother who lost her baby, but with drugs and kids in the house together, you can’t be too careful. Not everyone is responsible about those sorts of things and although I don’t think CPS needed to be called, I really can’t blame the person who did. There are enough marijuana users who either don’t secure their stash when kids are around or are willing to let their children try it that thinking it is safe because it is natural that you can’t just assume she wouldn’t.

          • February 26, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

            Come on, weed is legal in two states now. Would you say the same about someone with hard liquor in their home, that could–unlike marijuana–easily kill a kid?

          • I don't have a creative name
            February 26, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

            Dammit, I hate it when I agree with you.

            I’m no fan of weed – nor of hard liquor for that matter – but I just don’t see it as more dangerous than alcohol. A lot of law enforcement hours and prison slots go to dealing with marijuana issues, that would be better saved for much more pressing issues.

          • February 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

            Lol, agreeing with me isn’t so bad. I bet we also both think puppies are cute and running with scissors is a bad idea. 😉

          • BCMom
            February 26, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

            We keep our liquor in a locked cabinet for that very reason – it could kill a kid theoretically and we didn’t want curious teenagers tempted either. We protect children from cleaners and medications so why not booze and pot?

            Anecdotally, my daughters’ dog got into her stepsons’s pot cookies (family didn’t know he was obtaining them from the medical marijuana shop downtown). Not sure how a 47 lb Duck Toller compares to a toddler but they ended up rushing him to a Vet EDR after he went into respiratory arrest and his Vet and 24 hr ICU bill was over $3000.00 not to mention a bit of brain burn from hypoxia.

            I personally don’t care what substances people choose to recreate with but I’d sure be alarmed if measures weren’t being taken to prevent accidental ingestion by children.

          • February 26, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

            It’s a very sensible idea (I keep my vodka bottle in the deep freeze myself), but I don’t think anyone is getting CPS called on them for having liquor (or household cleaners) in unlocked cabinets, so it’s an unfair double standard.

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 8:42 pm #

            1) If someone thought you were intentionally giving alcohol to your children, then yes, CPS would (and should) be called. 2) Once they are there, they are going to make a note of things that are potential safety hazards. Like pot not locked up.

          • February 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

            Did you mean to say liquor not locked up? And didn’t the person who called CPS have as their sole reason for suspicion the fact that the parents used weed? So this would be like if someone referred to having a cocktail with their husband after putting the kids to bed, and got CPS called as a result, and they came and found a liquor cabinet with no lock on it and wrote the parents up.

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm #

            According to her blog post CPS had been told she was giving them “marijuana edibles.” Whether the person who called it in was knowingly exaggerating, I have no idea. But CPS was acting on a report that she was feeding it to them, not just smoking it herself.

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

            Agree. I feel like I don’t have nearly enough information to tell what the initial call was about or how appropriate it was, and certainly this poor woman did not need the stress. But the outcome seems entirely appropriate. They are not taking her kids away, they are not arresting her, and all they
            want her do is lock up the drugs (just like they would ask you to lock up your prescription drugs, cleaners, and alcohol) and clean up the cat poop, presumably so the kids don’t get hold of it and get toxoplasmosis. Any CPS call ends with a safety plan whether they actually think there is a safety risk or not.

            Just as an anecdote, my baby got burned accidentally about a month ago and an ER nurse called CPS. No one else, including the social worker, thought it was anything but an accident. It’s all been expunged. But I ended up with a safety plan anyway. Really not a pleasant experience over all, but if the nurse really thought there was a chance I had done it intentionally, she did the right thing.

          • February 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm #

            “All they want her do is lock up the drugs (just like they would ask you to lock up your prescription drugs, cleaners, and alcohol)”

            I can agree those good ideas, but are they really laws? How many people actually have those things locked up? Does CPS really focus as much attention on them?

            “Any CPS call ends with a safety plan whether they actually think there is a safety risk or not.”

            That makes no sense to me. Even if they think there is no safety risk whatever, they will still make a safety plan? I am not a “small government” guy at all, but this I do find overbearing.

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

            They make the safety plan as evidence that they followed up on the call. Mine said “will continue to cooperate with CPS”. (Um, duh?) And those aren’t laws, but it is CPS’s job to note safety concerns, so they do. It would be up to a judge to decide whether those are sufficient safety concerns to impose a sanction on the parents.

          • February 26, 2013 at 9:07 pm #

            Seems to me they could write something like “no safety issues found”, and that should suffice. There’s a “guilty until proven innocent (and even then, everyone’s guilty of something)” vibe about this policy that rubs me the wrong way.

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 9:29 pm #

            Well, considering I thought my safety plan should say, “Hey dumbass, don’t leave hot things where your baby can get them”, I thought I got off pretty easy.

            At the time, I did feel a bit like I had been assumed guilty, and it made me a little nervous to sign a carte blanche agreement to cooperate with CPS. But the good news is that if they find the claims unfounded they have to destroy all the records. And they have to make a call in a reasonable time frame — they can’t just leave an ambiguous case open while they look for sufficient evidence wrongdoing. Unlike with a police investigation, there is no “rap sheet” and if CPS is ever called on me again, I can legally and ethically tell them I have never been investigated.

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 26, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

            The sister of my oldest daughter’s father kept calling CPS on me when my daughter was little because she told me if I tried to get child support out of her brother she would make sure she got my daughter taken away. I didn’t get a safety plan, she got arrested.

          • auntbea
            February 27, 2013 at 9:49 am #

            Maybe it varies by state? But that seems like the right outcome in your case, anyway!

          • Gene
            February 26, 2013 at 9:34 pm #

            Just as an FYI, we are obligated reporters in the ED. If we think there is even a CHANCE of abuse, we are legally required to report it to CPS.

          • auntbea
            February 27, 2013 at 9:49 am #

            Oh, I know. But everyone other than this nurse seemed annoyed that she read the situation as abuse. The burn unit doctor actually apologized to me and told me they were embarrassed she had done that. As annoyed as I was with her at the time though, I hope she didn’t get too much flak from the team.

          • Therese
            February 26, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

            Legitimate fears? I don’t see what is legitimate about thinking marijuana contributed to the death of her child (isn’t that the implication? and that it might somehow kill her other children?) As far as I know people don’t die from marijuana overdoses, but even if they do and that’s what killed her child then that should be apparent from the autospy and they wouldn’t have diagnosed SUDC. Did this blogger state or imply anywhere that she was feeding her children marijuana? If not, then the caller explicitly lied, not something you should have to do if your fears are actually legitimate.

          • February 27, 2013 at 7:14 am #

            I hope the mother was not doing pot while breastfeeding and cosleeping. That does sound dodgy.

    • February 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

      Ugh, that would include me.

    • February 26, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

      Maybe she’s building an insanity defense?

  27. Guestina
    February 26, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Apart from anything to do with sexism, Meyer is going against an industry trend. Most tech companies need to offer flexible work arrangements because there is so much competition for skilled employees. One article suggests that this is a sneaky way to do a layoff without having to pay severance or separation packages.

    That whole business with building a private nursery for her kid at work is so assholish. Why not build an on-site childcare center for all employees so they can bring their kids to work too?

  28. Renee Martin
    February 26, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    If shes a workaholic who has spent her life building a reputation, I can’t imagine shes making these choices based on mothering. Shes more likely disregarding the role of mothering, and focusing on the job at hand. Like a man would! Single minded pursuit of corporate success is necessary for a turnaround CEO. I bet she only built the nursery to calm critics that said she did t love her baby! I can’t see someone like that wanting baby at work (I wouldn’t either).

    Telecommuting can go either way- it can make employees happier and more productive, and it can also make a team not cohesive. Yahoo is not Google, and as such, is probably working with less talented or less dedicated staff. Maybe telecommuting works great when you are dealing with the best in an industry, but this doesn’t mean it will work for all companies. Also, telecommuting works well for some types of jobs, and awful for others. I don’t know what Yahoo is focusing on, but I am sure she is aware of what’s not working. If they have been a telecommuting company, and are in trouble, it makes sense to change things up. Adding on site daycare can help a lot in this case.

    I found it hard to be successful at work and pay attention to my kids. I just couldn’t do both, even when I wanted too.

    • S
      February 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

      I agree. I think this post is based on some pretty big assumptions.

      • auntbea
        February 26, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

        Ding ding ding! (Lots of people are getting my winning bell today!)

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm #

      “If shes a workaholic who has spent her life building a reputation, I can’t imagine shes making these choices based on mothering. Shes more likely disregarding the role of mothering, and focusing on the job at hand. Like a man would!”

      Harsh. You can be a dedicated professional and not “disregard” your parental role.

      • S
        February 26, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

        Or maybe she found it incredibly easy to leave her child and thought, Hey, what’s the big deal? Her kid was still basically a tiny humanoid lump when she went back to work. It can be pretty easy to get bored with those things (i.e., newborns).

        • suchende
          February 26, 2013 at 3:19 pm #

          Lots of women work high-powered jobs as their kids grow up. I don’t know what you’re trying to say.

          • S
            February 26, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

            Of course they do. I’m trying to say that even if Ms. Meyer’s decision was motivated by her own feelings as a mother (and i haven’t seen any evidence that they were), it wouldn’t necessarily have to be a competitive thing. I shouldn’t have placed my comment where i did, suchende, as it really didn’t relate directly to yours; my fault.

      • February 26, 2013 at 4:42 pm #

        At the CEO level? I disagree, and I mean that to apply to men just as much as to women.

      • Renee Martin
        February 26, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

        I just don’t see this business decision (no more telecommuting) having anything to do with her parenting role! Assuming she’s doing this because of some notion of mommy wars ignores her primary focus in life- success in the boardroom.

        Its only harsh if you think her business decisions for the company should have anything to do with her parenting role. I don’t think they should, right now. She is also not just a “dedicated professional”, shes been brought on as a hands on, turnaround, CEO, to fix the current mess. This is not your average 9-5, or even 8-6. If she is suppose to turn around a major corporation, that needs to be her focus.

        This doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her kid, or that her current focus is forever- but it shouldn’t even come up! A mans status as a new parent would NEVER be used in this way. It’s *absurd* to even think of seeing an article saying a high powered male CEO is making personnel decisions because he thinks other Daddies are spending too much time with their kids (or whatever).

        • NeuroNerd
          February 27, 2013 at 9:54 am #

          I couldn’t agree with you more. I find this whole article anti-feminist, and I’m usually in agreement with Dr. Amy. Claiming that Meyer’s decision is based on competitive parenting because she’s a new mother is reducing her to her biology and ignoring the years of business acumen that she’s demonstrated at companies like Google.

    • Karen in SC
      February 26, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

      Google has a campus with free food 24/7, lounges, gyms, washers and dryer. Not sure how many Google employees telecommute. Let’s wait and see if she gets results and judge then.

      • Kalacirya
        February 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        Yeah, people shouldn’t be mistaken: Google campuses have a lot of benefits (food delivery, exercise equipment), but the point of those benefits aren’t to be nice to you, it’s to motivate you to stay longer at work and work more efficiently.

        • Karen in SC
          February 27, 2013 at 8:49 am #

          so obviously Google values face time and working collaboratively. That’s the point I was trying to make. Google is pretty successful, and Yahoo is playing catch up.

          If one feels that those company policies don’t mesh with one’s personal family values, then by all means, work elsewhere.

          • Karen in SC
            February 27, 2013 at 8:53 am #

            Adding: I am an engineer by degree. In general, engineering companies in the chemical industry don’t offer telecommuting though I’m sure occasionally with sickness etc. So I quit to raise my children. No regrets. When I was ready to work again in seven years, we lived in a small city with no opportunities to have any kind of flexible work, so I begin working part time teaching chemistry lab. So I understand the issues. In a perfect world, corporations would be more flexible but that’s not happening for the most part.

          • Sue
            February 28, 2013 at 2:06 am #

            (Are all engineers called Karen?)

          • KarenJJ
            February 28, 2013 at 2:16 am #

            There were two in my year at uni.

          • Sue
            March 1, 2013 at 1:26 am #


          • NeuroNerd
            February 27, 2013 at 9:50 am #

            I absolutely agree with both Karen in SC and Kalacirya. I think Meyer dropped telecommuting as a way to 1) do a lay-off without doing a lay-off and 2) to create a more Google-like environment. People are tending to forget that Meyer comes from Google, so it makes sense to me that she wants to re-create a Google environment since it’s obviously so successful.

            I usually agree with Dr. Amy, but I think she’s way off on this one. Meyer’s decision has nothing to do with mothering and everything with trying to turn this company around. CEO’s have always received perks that other employees don’t have (private jets, etc.) because they have infinitely more responsibilities. I see her private nursery as just another C-level perk.

          • automnetorte
            March 4, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

            Agreed, especially with the point of Meyer doing lay-offs without actually laying people off. Maybe she’s hoping that those who are so indignant at the idea of actually having to come into work will leave so she can bring in new and young blood in order to give Yahoo a complete overhaul. Likely the generation that has been raised on social media that are just now coming out of college, so even if these women leave, Meyer is not going to have issues hiring. Obviously, given that Yahoo is in serious trouble, telecommuting isn’t working and I’m sure there is hard data showing the lack of work coming from the telecommuting mothers. And I’m glad a mother is doing this because if Meyer was childless/childfree, this shitstorm would have increased by 1000.

            I’m sorry, but you can achieve a work-life balance even when you must go to an office, like every other working mother. My mother did it, my friends’ mothers did it, and my friends who are now mothers are doing it. My boss (a pastry chef) has a 7-month old and she manages it in a career track where having a life outside of work is notoriously difficult (where being a woman period isn’t too terribly easy).

            And people complaining that Meyer gets perks, well she’s the freaking CEO. When you put in the work to become a CEO, you deserve the perks of reaching that summit. To bitch about that says more about you (royal “you,” not anybody in particular) than it does Meyer. So she put in a nursery at her own expense to take control of her child’s day care. The other mothers can take care of their child’s day care at their own expense, too. Meyer just told them they have to come into work; she’s not cutting their paychecks. If Meyer had hired a nanny instead, would people be saying that she should be hiring nannies for everybody else?

          • KarenJJ
            February 27, 2013 at 7:40 pm #

            “If one feels that those company policies don’t mesh with one’s personal family values, then by all means, work elsewhere.”

            Or negotiate to change the policies. You don’t have to take it or leave it. You can always ask, if your skills are in demand and you have some good arguments and some evidence that it’s a good idea then you might be successful.

      • Josephine
        February 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

        Google benefits sound shiny, but I’ve forbidden my husband to interview there (he is in the tech industry). Why? Because it’s designed to make sure you never, ever go home, except perhaps to fall into bed at 11 PM.

        I didn’t choose him as a partner so that I could never see him. : / There’s a bit of a balancing act between choosing companies with good perks/salaries and choose companies that are generally more flexible and perhaps don’t require 60 hours of work every single week.

        • Josephine
          February 26, 2013 at 5:27 pm #

          Typos galore! Sorry.

        • auntbea
          February 26, 2013 at 7:33 pm #

          My friend at Google works entirely reasonable hours and is currently spending a month in India doing a yoga retreat with their blessing.

          Also, he and his team spend at least ten hours of every week building toys.

          • Josephine
            February 26, 2013 at 8:59 pm #

            Really? That is heartening to hear! I may have to remove the ban, heh. Perhaps it depends on which team you’re on?

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

            I have no idea. But he is a mellow guy so maybe he is just oblivious to the fact that he is supposed to be working harder. Either that or he is some sort of super genius and I just didn’t know.

        • BethC
          February 26, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

          A college friend is in the ad division of Google. He works from home more often than not, and he is able to volunteer at his son’s school most weeks. The downside is that when he’s on call, he has 5 minutes to respond to a call. He can’t leave the house and be away from a computer to go grocery shopping or out to eat without notifying the network control center that they need to contact his backup in the event of an incident. There is a group of about 30 people who do all of the major work that funds the fun & games that the company participates in.

          His wife told him when she got pregnant with their son (it took some medical intervention) that she didn’t go through hell to be a single parent. If she thought that was where they were heading, he would find a new job.

    • February 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm #

      I couldn’t focus on my job if I had kiddo under my feet, but I think it’s important to understand that when people say “Telecommuting is good for parents with kids” they don’t mean that people are just working while their kid plays around in the living room next to them etc.

      I work from home (freelance) and I still put my daughter in childcare. The advantages of telecommuting are that I do not have to juggle my hours against my daycare’s hours–I don’t have to commute (which saves me a lot of time), I can (if necessary) catch up on a little work in the evenings and at weekends, I can pop out and take care of things like taking my child to the dentist etc. when I need to and make up the hours when my partner is around, and if the worst comes to the worst and I occasionally have to deal with an urgent work task when my child is not at daycare, I can put her in front of the TV for half an hour while I do that.

      Telecommuting does not mean “not using childcare.”

      • KarenJJ
        February 26, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

        “Telecommuting does not mean “not using childcare.””

        Very true. Most companies I know of will not allow working from home without adequate supervision for the kids – which is not allowed to be yourself since you are working. I’d still eat lunch with them, but hired a sitter if we were all at home.

  29. I don't have a creative name
    February 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    You know how various NCB’ers find out Dr. Amy wrote a post about them and show up, guns blazing? It’d be interesting if Ms. Meyer did that. 😉 (or maybe wrote a rebuttal argument, more likely)

    I have no opinion on if this was a good business move or what was behind it. I know I’d be pissed if I were one of the workers, though. Telecommuting is fantastic and I hope that I’ll be able to so when I’m ready to re-enter the work force.

  30. Elle
    February 26, 2013 at 12:54 pm #

    Great article – thanks for giving such a pertinent example of how ‘mommy wars’ really do go both ways! (And of course, neither way is all that good for children.)

  31. fiftyfifty1
    February 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I have a friend who worked for a different silicon valley tech company. He used to telecommute, but then the boss banned it. His boss was a man. So was this all about competative fathering on the part of his boss?

    And I agree with Linda Hirshman’s analysis of the “Nobody writes ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office’ on their grave stone argument”. People say it way more often to women than to men. Even in 2013 people still see a woman who is passionate about her job as either unnatural or self-delusional. How many male executives with babies have to put up with a lot of “concerned” comments about how they are missing out on those Precious Years?
    This post was sexist pure and simple.

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

      *And I agree with Linda Hirshman’s analysis of the “Nobody writes ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office’ on their grave stone argument”.*

      God I have always hated that saying. Do you have a link?

      • fiftyfifty1
        February 26, 2013 at 7:56 pm #

        It’s in her book Get to Work.

    • mimi
      February 26, 2013 at 1:02 pm #

      Your argument would be more compelling if women and men hadn’t already been complaining about bosses such as this. This behavior is unacceptable from a man or a woman.

      • fiftyfifty1
        February 26, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

        People complain about driven workaholic male bosses but they don’t accuse them of acting that way “because they are compensating for being bad fathers”.

    • I don't have a creative name
      February 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

      “And I agree with Linda Hirshman’s analysis of the “Nobody writes ‘I wish
      I had spent more time at the office’ on their grave stone argument”.
      People say it way more often to women than to men.”

      They do??

      I don’t really have a dog in this fight but I’ve heard a couple of older men say it in regards to regretting working so much. I’d never heard it in regards to a woman.

      • fiftyfifty1
        February 26, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

        “Ive heard a couple of older men say it in regards to regretting working so much”
        And that’s exactly the difference. This saying originally was used by men, for men. Older men, who had already had high powered successful careers, would say it to themselves or among themselves to help them shift their priorities a bit as they entered the years coming up to retirement. But’s that’s not how it is used with women and that’s not how it was used in this post. In this post it is being used from the outside, as a weapon against a young woman whose career is still in front of her. It is being used to make her feel guilty. It says “you are fooling yourself”, “you will pay for this later”, “your life should be defined by the role of ‘Mother’ before anything else”.

      • AmyP
        February 26, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

        Yeah. Just think of the old song, Cat’s in the Cradle. That’s definitely aimed at the workaholic father and the price he pays.

      • Charlotte
        February 26, 2013 at 10:44 pm #

        Actually, this thread is the first time I’ve ever heard it in reference to a woman.

    • auntbea
      February 26, 2013 at 3:14 pm #

      Can you re-explain the sexist part? Is it just the picture? I promise I am not trying to be dense.

      • fiftyfifty1
        February 26, 2013 at 8:07 pm #

        I think there are 2 sexist things about Amy’s post:
        1. Assuming that Ms. Meyer made her business decision due to some neurotic desire to make other mothers suffer for her own mothering “shortcomings” rather than due to her business expertise. Amy might as well have said that she made the call due to being on the rag that day.
        2. Yes, the headstone picture is sexist. It gives the message “you are fooling yourself”, “you don’t know your own mind”, “you will pay for this”, “a good mother would know her place”, “But think of the children!!! gasp”.

    • Laura
      February 26, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

      I actually have heard many critiques of men spending too much time at the office in my circle of friends, acquaintances, and family. I also have heard numerous encouragements for dads to be around for their families, help their wives out more, etc. Notably, many of these wives are full-time homemakers so that could play into it. In the media, however, this idea may be more what you are referring, too.

    • February 26, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

      Ugh, I can’t stand Linda Hirshman. She utterly fails to notice that in the Milennial generation work/life balance is a priority for men as well. Studies show that the fathers of today spend more time with children than previous generations. And that is a good thing!

    • February 26, 2013 at 10:30 pm #

      You’re missing the point I think! This woman clearly has an agenda against working mothers!

      • NeuroNerd
        February 27, 2013 at 10:02 am #

        Really? Marissa Meyer is going to make unpopular decisions regarding a dying company that she’s trying to save, not because she thinks it will help that company, but because she has “an agenda against working mothers!”? I highly doubt that.

  32. quadrophenic
    February 26, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    I’m personally not productive working from home. I’m too tempted to go play with the baby or take a nap. I also do think some face to face interaction is good for problem solving in my job. I would understand if she said “we need to work side by side in the office more often, so for x time per week you need to be in the office.”

    But I imagine yahoo has a great number of staff that work just fine at home. Maybe they have in home childcare. Maybe kids are school aged but no commute and flexible hours means they can go to soccer games and meet with teachers while still putting in a full day’s work. Maybe they make up extra time working after bedtime or in the evening when spouses come home. I think it’s probably pretty easy for a supervisor to tell when productivity suffers when someone switched to telecommuting and can intervene then.

    Another thing this ignores is that telecommuting can help men spend more time with kids too when they don’t have a commute. They can sit down to breakfast, help with getting kids to school, etc. As a So Cal resident, commuting is a giant time suck, it’s exhausting, bad for the environment, and dangerous when you’re a sleep deprived parent. If you get to sleep an extra 30 minutes and get home 30 minutes earlier because you have no commute, that 1 hour is a huge difference for any parent or worker. And where I live, 30 minutes is an easy commute – 1 hour each way isn’t unheard of.

    • KarenJJ
      February 26, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

      “I’m personally not productive working from home. I’m too tempted to go play with the baby or take a nap.”

      For me it depends. If I have something to get done that requires a lot of concentration I am better off at home without the distractions of colleagues and phone calls. Tenders, reports and programming I am better at home. I never try to look after the kids while I work from home and always hire a sitter if they’re not at kindy or daycare.

      • quadrophenic
        February 27, 2013 at 2:11 am #

        Yes, there are definitely times when it’s better to be away from the distractions of the office. I had a ton to do today but I kept getting interrupted so I’ll be working on it early in the morning alone. Now of course I was trying to work before bed, but the baby was waking up and disrupting me.

  33. Alenushka
    February 26, 2013 at 12:24 pm #

    My morning started with a departmental video meeting.

  34. Captain Obvious
    February 26, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Whatever her reasons are, I hope many employees leave for greener pastures. This thread makes me wonder why Alan doesn’t telecommute for some employment opportunity. He is a SAHD that boasts of his education and wit. He cannot afford a hotel for a week when visiting family. And his wife is the sole money maker. Why not help his families financial portfolio? Why can’t Alan work from home? Medical transcription? computer analyst? Blogger for cash (TFB ;-))? Thrift shop renovation resale? But I digress.

    • S
      February 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

      Medical transcription is more difficult to get into than it’s made out to be. Visit MT forums. Almost no job opportunities without two years acute care experience (I don’t have that; i transcribe office visits). Okay for supplemental income; very difficult to make an actual living. Not sure what a computer analyst is, but the telecommuters i know are programmers, and that’s certainly not for everyone — you need a certain aptitude and ability to learn independently; i’m sure we have some parentheses-counters on here who can weigh in.

      In somewhat related news — I’m Quitting My Job! yay!!! And Captain, i prefer the term “funemployment.”

    • S
      February 26, 2013 at 1:43 pm #

      Oh, and also — If his wife is cool with supporting the family, then why on earth do you care? How is it different from my lazy ass choosing funemployment? (I guess aside from the my kid’s age and my short-term plans to get pregnant and vomit all day.)

      • auntbea
        February 26, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

        That *does* sound fun!

      • February 26, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

        Capt. Obvious has made it, well, obvious, that he is blatantly sexist. He cannot cite an example of when he has called a SAHM “unemployed” but repeatedly insists on applying that label to me.

    • Josephine
      February 26, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

      I’m sorry, what’s wrong with being a stay at home parent, again? My family can’t afford to stay in a hotel for a week either, and I’m a SAHM (partly by choice, partly by shit economy). But we get our bills paid. Big whoop. There are plenty of people who can’t afford a whole week in a hotel – $700+ at the least. You’re coming off a bit snobbish, which is a shame since I generally enjoy your comments.

    • Sterrell
      February 26, 2013 at 7:57 pm #

      I disagree with pretty much everything Alan writes, but his is a little below he belt. Didn’t someone say in an earlier comment that they longed for the time when women could state that heir choices were based on what they wanted and worked best or them (rather than feeling the need to justify formula feeding, disposable diapering, etc)?

      I think we are at our best when we all issues.

      • February 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm #

        I think you might have left something out of your last sentence, but thank you.

        Speaking of below the belt, I also thought it was a little shady when he just, out of the blue, awkwardly shoehorned this into a whole new thread, singling me out but not in response to anything I wrote (thus making it easily possible I could have missed it if I just checked DISQUS for replies).

    • Starling
      February 26, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

      Really, Captain? It’s not a choice he should have to defend. It’s between him and his wife, period, just as your wife’s employment status and your own is between you and her.

    • KarenJJ
      February 26, 2013 at 10:35 pm #

      It’s not going to happen without childcare. Work from home is just not possible without someone caring for the kids. The only people I’ve ever come across who ever thought it was, was my father and a manager – both of whom had never stayed at home to look after young children. And both discovered fairly quickly that it wasn’t going to work that way.

      Most companies I know will not approve a work form home option without childcare being in place.

      Nothing wrong with the wife being the sole income earner. I know a family like this. SAHD with a university education. They didn’t want to use childcare and don’t have local family support. Fair enough and that’s their decision. Money’s tight for all single income families. Alan’s annoying about his AP rubbish and thinking white bread is so crap his kids couldn’t possibly eat it for two weeks (mmmmm baguettes – hope your family wasn’t in France), but not because he’s a SAHD and not because of his family’s choices.

  35. The Computer Ate My Nym
    February 26, 2013 at 11:35 am #

    Let’s think about this: Meyer works for an internet company. And is saying that telecommuting hurts staff communication. If both statements are true, then either

    1. Meyer is incompetent and can’t use the internet very well, in which case Yahoo’s investors should fire her OR
    2. The internet is crap for communications, i.e. her product is so bad that no one, not even the person selling it, can really use it. In other words, the investors should pull out and the company fold.

    Either way, if Meyer, top executive at Yahoo and experienced Google ex-employee, can’t make telecommunications work, there’s a major issue and she should not remain a CEO for an internet company any longer.

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 11:37 am #

      Holy false dichotomy, Batman. Can’t the Internet simply be an insufficient tool for a troubled company?

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        February 26, 2013 at 11:55 am #

        But she is ending telecommuting because she’s claiming that it is hurting business. Since I’ve seen a number of businesses, both for profit and non-profit work quite well with a lot of telecommuting, I think it most likely that she’s simply incompetent, but if it really is hurting her business to use the internet and her business is the internet, what does that say about her choice in what to sell? If nothing else, she doesn’t believe in it. What do you bet me her private email is a gmail account?

        • suchende
          February 26, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

          The company was in trouble when she got there, so I don’t think we can lay many (any?) of Yahoo!’s failures at her feet. They obviously need dramatic change, and if communication is part of the problem, this seems like a reasonable thing to try. It’s not really fair to compare Yahoo! to teams that were already high-functioning.

          Put another way, if you were on a team at work that was failing to be successful, would you recommend less facetime as part of the solution?

  36. Amy M
    February 26, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    Study of what work-at-homes do at home, with compelling argument for general life balance and productivity.

  37. AlexisRT
    February 26, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    The problem with the parenting argument that keeps getting dragged in is that offices that permit telecommuting typically require you to have childcare and may require the same set hours that being in the office does. Telecommuting allows a bit of flexibility and reduces your commute time, but there’s a popular presentation of home working as “mom works while the kids play.” That’s not true at all. I don’t think this idea that telecommuting is all about parents is helpful.

    I think the media presentation says as much about our culture as Mayer does. Decisions about workplace flexibility are not just about mothering; they are about parenting. Her trumpeting that she would only take a 2 week maternity leave was about mothering, and could only be, because only women give birth. (Although, of course, male high fliers have often done so on the backs of their partners—but Mayer seemed to turn it into an “I can do it all!” thing. Men may be pressured to come back after a health event, but it’s never about their parenting.)

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 11:30 am #

      “Mayer seemed to turn it into an “I can do it all!” thing.”

      Well, the media coverage of her choice did, anyway. I read what she actually said about leave, and to me it sounded like a CEO trying to reassure investors that she would be at the helm of Yahoo! despite her pregnancy.

    • Karen in SC
      February 26, 2013 at 11:43 am #

      I agree. In Silicon Vally, many use flex hrs and telecommuting due to traffic issues. When I visited Google a few years, it seemed to me that all the perks where about keeping employees on site as long as possible with free food, lounges, gyms, even washers and dryers! Those two companies are all about innovation and collaboration and while there are tools that make telecommuting possible, I think being face to face is best.

      If some Yahoo employees are trying to work without getting daycare on a consistent basis, how productive can they really be? I’m behind this decision.

      Also, if you find yourself goofing off when in the office and more productive at home, that tells me more about your personal work habits and discipline than it does about company policy.

    • Alenushka
      February 26, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

      There other categories of people who benefit from telecommuting. Disabled worker. Workers who take care of elderly people. Workers with long commutes.

      • suchende
        February 26, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

        And it’s awesome that technology can make that possible, but it doesn’t mean that telecommuting is a good thing for every team/company/industry/stage in product lifecycle.

    • mimi
      February 26, 2013 at 12:55 pm #

      Commutes around here are routinely 1.5 hours each way because all the jobs are in NYC. I would think 3 hours extra a day is great, even if you do need child care. Also save money on eating out as a meal shoved into the oven is there at a reasonable time.

      • AlexisRT
        February 26, 2013 at 2:50 pm #

        I’m from the NYC area, so I know the problem. But commutes aren’t parent-specific, and telecommuting is too often portrayed as some kind of solution for parents.

        • quadrophenic
          February 26, 2013 at 3:59 pm #

          Everyone would like to avoid commutes but it’s a little bigger issue for parents. First, having children often drives you to live in areas with bigger, cheaper housing and better schools further from big cities. A single person or childless couple can live in a small apartment closer to work. Also, you have more flexibility to commute because you don’t have to be home at a given time to pick up kids from daycare, etc. I know people who work from say 10-7 to avoid traffic but you’re going to have a hard time finding daycares that will let you pick up that late, besides it being bedtime by the time you get home.

          I do agree that it’s not a magic solution for working parents. And I think non parents should have the option too when appropriate for their employers.

  38. TiffanyEpiphany
    February 26, 2013 at 11:08 am #

    If she’s going to build a nursery next to her office at her expense to be closer to her child while at work, then every other woman with babies at Yahoo should be allowed to build a nursery/crib space next to their office/cubicles at their expense, especially since they’ll no longer have the option to telecommute.

    Equal rights and opportunities for women aren’t just limited to men-to-women comparisons, but also women-to-women comparisons, regardless of status or hierarchy within the company.

    It comes off as this: Marissa Meyer gets special privilege because of her position and rank (and since she also has the role of Mother, it’s apparent that she seems threatened by other mothers in the company who may or may not have more of an opportunity to spend more time with their children, based on their lower position and rank).

    Her actions fly in the face of efforts to create true equal rights and opportunities for all women, regardless of–yet especially with regards to–executive status.

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 11:10 am #

      Maybe. But was the baby only there during what would have otherwise been official maternity leave time?

      • TiffanyEpiphany
        February 26, 2013 at 11:38 am #

        Ah, good point. It’s not clear from the quote in the above article.

        But even so, if she was allowed to have her baby there during her official maternity leave time, then so should ever other woman with a newborn (and the same could be said about any man who wanted to spend parental leave that way).

        • suchende
          February 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

          Well, I don’t know that I agree that the policy for a new CEO has to be extended to every employee, but I think that’d compound her public perception problem. New headlines would be: “CEO and new mom encourages employees to forgo family leave; sets up in-office Pack ‘n’ Play loaner program!” Hell, it might even open Yahoo! up to a law suit.

          • TiffanyEpiphany
            February 26, 2013 at 2:15 pm #

            You bet. Which is why it was ridiculous for her to do such a thing in the first place, even if just for herself.

            I agree with what someone else said, that the likely reason she did what she did here was so that she couldn’t be accused of not loving or caring for her newborn by going back to work so soon. No doubt that’s the real reason. I’m not so sure that many others would have the desire to have to care for their newborns while at work anyway.

            But the idea that she’s “special” and that others are not–and more specifically, that other mothers are being deprived of reasonable opportunities to spend more time with their children (though, telecommuting doesn’t always guarantee that), presumably because Marissa Meyer may be threatened by parenting competition–is one of the things that stands out as unhealthy, besides her work-a-holism.

          • auntbea
            February 26, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

            Unless she also had a team of nannies in that nursery, it is not clear to me how she was more available and engaged with her kid physically right there than someone telecommuting while their children are in day care.

          • February 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

            I don’t know about a team, but I bet she had at least one.

      • Catherine
        February 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

        I’d say that if she’s built a nursery, the intention is that the baby will be there for the long haul. Only a first-time mother would make the mistake of believing that it’s easy to take kids to work. Sure, it’s easy in the early months when babies do very little other than feeding, sleeping and lie awake looking around (IF they don’t have reflux or colic or any health issues). It’ll be a whole different ballgame once the baby is mobile and demanding more stimulation. I give Ms Meyer 5 months before the baby is at home with a nanny while she’s at work.

        • suchende
          February 27, 2013 at 1:58 pm #

          I assume that by 5 months, baby will be at home too, though I suspect Mayer planned something along those lines all along.

        • Guest
          March 1, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

          I always assumed that she had a nanny with the baby at the office….

  39. suchende
    February 26, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    I do not like “telecommuting.” It interferes with mentorship. In my experience, parents of young children too often do not do a good job supporting subordinate staff, and I think telecommuting aggravates the problem.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      February 26, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

      I do not like “telecommuting.” It interferes with mentorship.

      Given that I’ve seen a number of successful mentoring relationships where the mentor and the trainee weren’t even on the same continent and only met face to face once or twice a year, I’m going to have to call this an overcall. I don’t know the particular situation that you’ve found it detrimental, but I don’t think it is overall. (BTW, “successful” in this case involves the trainee going on to a tenure track position at an Ivy League school or MPI.)

      • suchende
        February 26, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

        I am talking about establishing new mentoring relationships. I’ve maintained long distance mentorship relationships after already working a long time in close quarters, but my experience with telecommuting bosses as been bad.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          February 26, 2013 at 1:25 pm #

          That’s a very different statement. Requiring face to face time at the beginning of a collaboration or intermittently during a project is a given for telecommuting or working with people at long distances. But that’s not what Meyer is proposing. She is proposing banning telecommuting. That’s just a stupid move. And expensive. Imagine how many contractors she’s going to have to bring in physically-paying for their travel arrangements-if she means to make it look like she really believes her own crap instead of it just being a punitive arrangement. Which it is.

          • suchende
            February 26, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

            What makes you think it’s punitive? Why would it have to extend to off-site contractors? Do you work for Yahoo!?

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            February 26, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

            Do you work for Yahoo!?

            Nope. Worse. I’m an ex-customer and ex-potential investor.

            Why would it have to extend to off-site contractors?

            Because if they’re having communication problems within the company, how much worse must their communication issues with outside contractors be? If they can communicate ok with outside contractors by remote, why can’t they communicate with each other that way? It makes no sense.

  40. Alenushka
    February 26, 2013 at 10:49 am #

    It is the stupidest business proposition ever. Super smart people do not exactly line up at Yahoo. The coveted workplace is Google which has on site preschool and allows many of my friends to telecommute several times a year. There many awesome companies in Silicone Valley that make tons of money and have family friends polices. Good uck Yahoo!

    • Amy M
      February 26, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      I am not a business person by any stretch of the imagination, but my view is that happy employees are productive employees. If employees are unhappy in a particular job, they may be able to find a new job. But, new jobs aren’t so plentiful right now, and for a number of reasons, someone unhappy in the job, must stay where she is for the time being. If you have to go to a place you hate everyday, you will be bitter and resentful, and turn out the lowest possible amount of effort wo/getting fired. If I have this backwards, by all means, someone correct me.

      • Josephine
        February 26, 2013 at 11:44 am #

        Actually, the tech sector is pretty much the exact opposite of the rest of the economy. Most places are on hiring binges and can’t get enough qualified people in open positions. So it’s doubly stupid on Mayer’s part.

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      Super smart people weren’t lining up with their old, google-esque policy either. If bad communication and weak teams is getting in the way of their success, this might help make Yahoo! a more desirable place to work.

  41. Eskimo
    February 26, 2013 at 10:34 am #

    When I worked from home I spent WAAAY less time screwing around online. I had to make the most of my time and was much faster at home.

    For example: I’m at work right now… drinking a cup of tea, reading this article, and poised to click off the screen and back on work should anyone decide to work “side-by-side”.

    She just sounds like a good ol’ fashioned asshole.

    • Sullivan ThePoop
      February 26, 2013 at 11:00 am #

      True, when I am working at home I turn something on to watch and just work. When I am in office hours at work I spend most of my time reading articles and catching up with friends on Facebook when I should be working. I don’t know why.

      • auntbea
        February 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm #

        The thrill of the forbidden!

      • February 26, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

        I don’t understand why people’s bosses in office environments don’t simply monitor the websites employees visit, the way I can with my children using the parental controls on our computer.

        • disqus_61tNDsHTqn
          February 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

          I worked in an office environment like that once. We knew our company didn’t respect us, so fuck them. We did the minimum of what was required of us and no more. – S

          • February 26, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

            So it’s sort of a collective implicit national assertion of white collar workers’ rights. Interesting, and kind of cool, but a bit unfair that blue collar workers don’t get an equivalent perq.

          • KarenJJ
            February 26, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

            There is a large Australian company with a CEO that has a very strong ‘clean desk’ policy. They must clean their desk at the end of each day and have one A5 frame to put any picture they want in it. Someone asked what should happen if they received a company award on an A4 sheet and the reply was that it could only be displayed if it fit in the A5 frame.

            icromanaging and power trips – someone getting a kick out of dictating that what works for them must work for everyone else…

          • KarenJJ
            February 26, 2013 at 11:22 pm #

            It shows distrust of Yahoo’s managers and distrust of the Yahoo’s employees that negotiate for flexible workplaces.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn
            February 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

            This. Thank you, Karen. =) I don’t remember the business 101 version of how management styles affect worker productivity, so the data may not back me up, but in my experience, workers who are treated like children are less inclined to feel loyal to the company and take pride in their work. If i have a choice, i won’t stay at a company where i am not respected.

            In the aforementioned situation, i was a temp and didn’t want to make anyone look bad, so i worked slowly like everyone else. It was an effort to stay under the radar, not make a statement! All other jobs, i work my ass off. It was boring working that slowly.

            And who says blue collar workers can’t slack off? – S

          • February 27, 2013 at 4:08 pm #

            Depends on the job, but how would you slack off on an assembly line? Or at a busy restaurant?

          • Poogles
            February 27, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

            ” but how would you slack off on an assembly line? Or at a busy restaurant?”

            My husband is a blue-collar worker (both as an auto technician and in a kitchen) – believe me, they find ways. In the shop, there were pranks they pulled on each other, water fights, etc. In the kitchen, people breaking out in song and/or dance isn’t too uncommon, and neither are breaks out back. Everyone needs some light-hearted distractions from their work day 🙂

        • Josephine
          February 26, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

          Offices that go to that level of paranoid micromanagement tend to be absolutely horrid places to work. If people are getting the job done, why does it matter? This is something I’ve never understood.

          Obviously there are jobs where you absolutely must be there and present at all times, but for your average office worker, a certain amount of surfing the web comes with the territory if only to relieve the mind from repetitive mental tasks.

          • February 26, 2013 at 5:58 pm #

            Before the Web, did office workers routinely read the newspaper or magazines or something?

          • Josephine
            February 26, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

            Isn’t that where the archetypal watercooler chat thing comes in? I have no idea.

          • KarenJJ
            February 26, 2013 at 10:01 pm #

            Yep, and had smokos.

          • disqus_61tNDsHTqn
            February 27, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

            Smokos – new word for me! – S

        • Sullivan ThePoop
          February 27, 2013 at 8:55 am #

          Yeah, you couldn’t do that at a university though. Not to mention they do not care when/where I get my work done as long as I get it done on time.

          • February 27, 2013 at 4:11 pm #

            They *could* do it, technically; but the culture there would balk at it more than most places.

          • Sullivan ThePoop
            February 28, 2013 at 10:02 am #

            I guess technically they could, but the students are on the same system and one of the perks of living on campus is free internet. So, they would have to find a way to separate student and faculty. Then you have the fact that all professors are working on projects in hundreds of different fields. It would be nearly impossible to decide what is needed for that work and what is not. So, really balking would be the least of the problems.

            Also, unless I am in the lab or teaching my time at school is spent in office hours where my only real obligation is to wait for students who need my help. If no one comes in, which is very often the case I am not required to do anything else.

          • February 28, 2013 at 12:25 pm #

            All good points.

      • Certified Hamster Midwife
        February 26, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

        I worked in a place like that. They blocked every remotely entertaining site and all e-mail web interfaces. I could get to some news sites, and would e-mail people by using the “send this article” button. But overall, they policed our use and would cut off access to given sites on a whim.

        It was sort of a trap, since there’s no reason a person working there would need Internet access except during their breaks. I was sitting there with nothing to do and not allowed to do anything.

  42. T.
    February 26, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    Business is business. Yahoo is in trouble, a lot of it. If she had reasons to believe telecommuting is lowering the productivity, she has right to do it. Of course, that would mean having data that show it.

    • suchende
      February 26, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      I don’t know that she needs hard data to decide that Yahoo might be hurt by telecommuting.

      • The Computer Ate My Nym
        February 26, 2013 at 1:06 pm #

        Why not? She’s doing something that will hurt her employees. Shouldn’t she have some data that it will at least help the company?

        • suchende
          February 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

          How would you even get that data? Commission a study on Fortune 500 companies that were struggling, had liberal telecommuting policies, then scaled them back? At best, you might find a couple case studies (maybe). Her job is to try to solve Yahoo!’s problems, not to make sure she only proceeds with stepping people’s toes when the weight of the evidence is behind her. Management isn’t science.

          • The Computer Ate My Nym
            February 26, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

            Management isn’t science.

            Much to its detriment. I’m sure Meyers believes she’s taking a bold step(TM) and that she sees herself as a maverick(TM), but really she’s just an incompetent idiot doing something stupid.

            I so need to short yahoo stock.

          • Expat in Germany
            February 26, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

            Somebody hates Ms. Meyer. I’ve seen her in interviews and she doesn’t come accross as likable. Intense, yes, but in an about to snap sort of way. I’m sure she is smart enough, but I don’t see her making waves for much longer. She’s loaded and will take a vacation when the power games start to kick her ass and are no longer fun.

          • Renee Martin
            February 26, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

            If she was a man she would be “bold”, “determined, “strong”.

            She’s a woman, so instead, no one likes her.
            I would be willing to bet her attitude now is because it really does not matter what she does. She will be treated shitty anyway, might as well be effective. her job isn’t to make friends, it to improve the company.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            February 26, 2013 at 5:16 pm #

            ” She will be treated shitty anyway, might as well be effective. her job isn’t to make friends, it to improve the company.”

            Of course, but where is the evidence that it will improve the company? And if there’s no evidence that it will improve the company, why is she doing it? My guess: competitive mothering. If she’s going to be at the office, all the other mothers have to be at the office, too.

          • T.
            February 27, 2013 at 3:49 am #

            Dr Amy, business decisions aren’t scientific decisions. In short: while a scientist MUST make their data public, a business company has any reason not to do it.

            The point is that a sound business decision is not *necessarily* a mother-friendly decision. It may or not be.

          • SF Mom & Psychologist
            February 26, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

            There is plenty of research how people behave in the workplace. It’s the basis of industrial or organizational psychology. It’s not my specialty, and I can’t remember the seminal research on employee work arrangements and subsequent levels of satisfaction, loyalty, productivity, etc. But I recall that it is nuanced (e.g. flex schedules increase A and B, but not C and D). My understanding is that her decision was about increasing innovation, and that telecommuting does not help innovation. It really might improve morale and loyalty, but those don’t necessarily generate new and successful ideas. I’m not defending her decision, just addressing the questions about research on these topics.

          • NeuroNerd
            February 27, 2013 at 9:44 am #

            Long time reader de-lurking to say: My fiance works for a small technology start-up. He absolutely supports Marissa Meyer’s decision. While he and his co-workers are offered the option to telecommute on occasion (waiting for the cable guy, etc.), the assumption is that you are at work collaborating with your co-workers to come up with new ideas. You cannot get that type of collaboration when you’re at home communicating via email.

            Google is usually held up as the gold standard for tech companies. Google does offer fantastic facilities to their employees and some flexibility, but the expectation is that employees are at the Google office collaborating most of the time. Most Googler’s we know work 40-50 hours per week ON LOCATION at an office, and then clock additional hours via telecommute. Many of Google’s most successful products came from employees’ original ideas that they implemented while hanging out at work, so clearly this model works. Since Marissa Meyer comes from Google, it makes sense to me that she would want people in the office collaborating so the company can get back on track.

            As for Meyer’s personal nursery, I have no issue with the CEO having perks that employees don’t have. Marissa Meyer is on-call for her job 24/7. When other employees have her same responsibilities, they can get her perks. And while it would be nice of Yahoo! to offer childcare to other employees, they are under no such obligation. Yahoo! Employees are free to seek out outside daycare options like most other working parents. Considering what salaries most people in the tech field command, I doubt that finances are prohibitive in many cases.

          • Guestl
            February 27, 2013 at 10:11 am #

            Perhaps your husband and his colleagues can’t collaborate effectively via email, but I assure you, it does work for other organizations.

            I work from home 80% of the time. My staff work from home 80% of the time. My daughter goes to daycare for 8 hours per day; telecommuting and looking after small children do not mix, in my view, it’s either one or the other, and time spent on caring for children during work hours is time spent away from work. So, just to be clear — I am all for telecommuting, but not so that you are able to look after your kids whilst working (exceptions exist, of course, such as a child home sick).

            My team collaborates daily with colleagues in other countries/time zones. It would be impossible to work with these folk directly, so instead, we utilize Skype and a variety of other tools to get the job done. And it works. To suggest that effective collaboration is possible only when staffers are physically present in an office does a huge disservice to those who are unable to engage in the same way.

            As for Marissa Mayer and her private nursery, she can suck it. The point of leadership in part is to lead by example, and to not have expectations of your staff that you aren’t prepared to fulfill yourself. She’s drawn a line in the sand, a thick and ugly one — she’s granted herself flexibility when it comes to childcare, while at the same time, taking it away from her staff. If Yahoo wants to be a leader, then perhaps Marissa should, you know, actually lead. Shame on her.

          • NeuroNerd
            February 27, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

            While telecommuting may work for some industries, including yours (you didn’t state what it was), it does not work well all the time for all industries. Meyer is trying to replicate the work culture that Google and Facebook have, and considering how successful those companies are, that’s actually a really smart business decision.

            I didn’t suggest that effective collaboration only works when employers are physically present, but I will state that, in general, things get done much more quickly when there is face-to-face interaction. In the case of Yahoo! and other technology companies, there is a true need for creative collaboration, which can come from camaraderie in the work place. This is what Google encourages. They have nice facilities so that people can be together, hanging out at work, playing ping pong or swimming, and working on ideas. Given Google’s success, that model clearly works. I think Meyer is trying to replicate this. Remember, she came from Google.

            Finally, it’s not Meyer’s job to give her staff flexibility–it’s their job to figure out their work life balance. CEOs (even female ones) are under no obligation to make work nicer for other parents. It would be nice if Yahoo! offered childcare or telecommute flexibility, but they don’t, and they don’t have to. I’m sure her employees still have PTO, some flexibility with start-and-stop times, etc as necessary to work with. If employees don’t like the new rules, they can find other, more flexible employment.

    • The Computer Ate My Nym
      February 26, 2013 at 11:28 am #

      Business is business and reputation is part of business. I have a yahoo email address. Perhaps I won’t much longer.

      • T.
        February 26, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

        As I said: before doing such policies, there is usually a lot of research done. Flexibility works well… sometime. Not always.

        Is it better for a mother to have to go to work in the office or to end up at home because the company has closed? It can happen. Even to yahoo.

        And it won’t be just mothers to suffer, then. Even father and people without children.

        I don’t know anything about yahoo, their internal decisions-making process and such. But I doubt highly that anybody in such a position would put a policy like that out of thin air just because it seemed a good idea at the moment.
        It may be true, of course, but I personally find it unlikely.

        • The Computer Ate My Nym
          February 26, 2013 at 1:04 pm #

          One business decision that I think would be extremely bad is making your customers think that you’re a piece of shit that they don’t want to support. Meyer has convinced me that she’s a piece of shit and I don’t want to support her company. If most people feel differently, perhaps she’s made a good decision.

          Just as well. Yahoo mail’s been a disaster for a while now. I don’t think they’ve been keeping their employees very happy for some time, judging by how good a job they’re doing keeping their sites working. I’ve been migrating most of my non-spam to google anyway. They don’t have a bunch of ads to wade through and do have a search function that’s workable. Have to find a new spam account, I suppose, but that’s easily enough done. Given that my contribution to yahoo’s business is no more than looking at my email several times a day, it’s probably not that important to them, but who knows how representative or non-representative I am?

          • February 26, 2013 at 4:38 pm #

            My wife prevailed upon me to move from Yahoo Mail to Gmail back when we first met; I have not regretted that decision.

          • T.
            February 27, 2013 at 3:47 am #

            Ms Meyer’s belief is indifferent on whenever or not she is a good manager. Telecommuting may work or not. If in Yahoo is not working, then she is right to stop it. That is all, really. Perhaps it was made badly by previous people in her position and now she had to deal with the aftermath. I don’t know. It may be a stupid decision, or it may be an intelligent one.

            I lack the data to decide it in a logical, business way.

    • Starling
      February 26, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

      I suppose my big issue is that they may have the data, but producing it would make public company financial issues that they want to hide. A competitive business like Yahoo doesn’t have to publish its reasons, and in fact has every incentive to avoid publishing something that makes them look foolish.

  43. Anonomom
    February 26, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    “Feminists have no obligation to make the workplace more accommodating to other women; they are merely required to offer the same opportunities to women as they offer to men.”

    The same? This isn’t 100% possible, because we don’t have the same biology. Men will never be pregnant, give birth, and need to express milk at work. So there should be some allowence for women who do these things. Aside from that, I totally agree with this.

    • auntbea
      February 26, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

      I think the idea is that women should get what they need to have the same opportunity as men: to have a family without hurting one’s career.

      • KarenJJ
        February 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

        ” Feminists have no obligation to make the workplace more accommodating to other women; they are merely required to offer the same opportunities to women as they offer to men. ”

        I disagree. I think women need to get out there and make the workplace more accomodating to other women and to families (heck men should be too). I’ve informally mentored young female engineers and also negotiated paid maternity leave – not just for myself – but for every woman in my company in my country. Workplaces can still be a hostile place for women in some industries – not so much explicitly anymore (been a while since I’ve seen porn publicly displayed – although it’s still around on some sites) but in other ways such as not taking women out on site.. Heck I’ve worked on sites where there were no female toilets available and the men hummed hrmed about me using there’s…

    • Jennifer2
      February 27, 2013 at 2:49 am #

      But “the workplace” (to the extent it can be generalized) is based around the old husband-goes-to-work-wife-stays-home-with-kids model of family life. It is not set up for men, and not in a way that is particularly accommodating to mothers or to single parents. Saying that feminists have no obligation to make the workplace more accommodating to other women but merely to offer them the same opportunities as men is like saying that women are allowed to wear pants, but they have to wear the same pants as men, wider hips be damned. Or that women are allowed to use the exact same bathrooms as men, even though the urinals aren’t too useful and there aren’t enough toilets. When the entire institution of “the workplace” has been designed primarily with the needs of men in mind, then changing that institution to reflect the needs of the women in the workforce is not only a legitimate goal of feminism but an absolute obligation.

      • February 27, 2013 at 6:04 am #

        The freedom to work the same long hours as men and STILL have the responsibilities of mothering never seemed that good a deal to me. But in the present economic and social climate, there doesn’t seem much prospect of the world getting more family friendly.

        I don’t know what the answer is. Someone mentioned on here childcare as “fulfilling” – but I don’t think it is. Having a child might be – and caring for them can have its moments. I stayed home to look after mine (till school age) because it was what I wanted to do, not who I wanted to be.

        I literally cannot imagine what it is like to have a very high-powered, demanding job, the kind where other people’s livelihood, and the way THEY live, depends on your decisions.and to find time for the minutiae of your children’s lives. I have a rather strange way of formulating this in my mind – that in effect, in terms of traditional roles, children end up with two fathers and someone else is doing the mothering. This isn’t automatically a bad thing – though I did catch a glimpse of a report this week that said children of lesbians do rather well. I tend to view my son in law as rather a good mother! I do accept that this is a rather rigid, old fashioned view.

        I imagine it would be rather difficult to do precise research into what it is children need, and anyway I suspect it would not necessarily fit that precisely with what parents, adults need. I do now sometimes think that I was too attentive to my children. WE have a good and close relationship – but they still care a lot more about what I think, gaining my approval, than I think is good for them.

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