To leave or not to leave? That is the ultimate maternity question.
In a statement released Wednesday, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer announced that she is expecting twins.
And what was intended to be a happy announcement has now sparked a heated debate across the web as Mayer plans on taking just a two-week maternity leave, “taking limited time away and working throughout,” similar to that with her first child.
Many are criticizing her decision, claiming that it sends a negative message to working mothers and questioning whether this will put pressure on others to follow suit. People like tech blogger Anil Dash have taken to Twitter asking Mayer to encourage other Yahoo employees to “take their full leave when having kids.”
An expecting mother of two, image consultant and style coach Shaquanda Spivey told the New York Daily News, “It gives a false expectation of how a mom should balance work and life.” Some critics feel that Mayer’s chief concern should be with her health and the health of her baby, indicating that a healthy pregnancy does not always correlate with a complication-free birth. “We want to be superwomen, we want to do it all, but then something is going to suffer,” Spivey adds. “I don’t want to worry about work two weeks after I give birth. I want to make sure that my baby is healthy.”
Additionally, most women do not have access to the same types of resources as Mayer. For those who can’t afford childcare, maternity leave – paid or unpaid – is the only option. While Yahoo banned employees from working from home two years ago, Mayer has the advantage of using the private nursery adjoined to her office. Her quick return to the office with baby in tow is an option that the vast majority of new moms and dads do not have.
On the other side of the ring, supporters of Mayer are calling the critiques sexist. One CNN article asks, “Why does Mayer need to take a longer maternity leave? Because she’s a woman? Why don’t you hold male CEOs to the same parenting standard?”
Yahoo’s policies are not all that bad. Back in 2013, they implemented two new policies: one doubling the length of maternity leave and the other offering paid paternity leave for new fathers. Fellow business mogul and “Shark Tank” investor, Barbara Corcoran, sees nothing wrong with Mayer’s decision. “Marissa Mayer obviously gave a maternity policy that was extremely liberal as a giant welcome sign for women to come work at that company. That she’s only chosen to take two weeks off is no big deal.”
Other companies have made headlines recently for their advancements in policies – Netflix has agreed to unlimited leave for a year after the child is born and Microsoft is offering an increase in paid leave. Hopefully, the more companies officially recognize the importance of parental leave, the more positive talk and encouragement to actually take leaves will follow suit.
No matter which side of the debate you’re on, we should all agree on something: it is a deeply personal decision that every woman should have the right to make on her own.