Every woman I know in tech has at least shared a thought about Marissa Mayer.
Her latest statement – that she doesn’t have the “militant drive” or the “sort of chip on the shoulder” of a feminist, coming on the heels of her ban on telecommuting at Yahoo, has spawned a new round of blog posts and tweets.
I admit that I was irked when I first saw the quote about feminism. It seemed so disrespectful. All of us who work in jobs that less than 50 years ago were held only by men owe a huge debt to feminism. Even if we don’t agree with everything “feminism” may stand for now (and frankly I don’t really even know what that is any more), we are all “standing on the shoulders of giants”. And yes, I mean those wackadoo suffragettes in their crazy long skirts and those braless college students in the 60s and 70s.
I arrived on the Princeton campus on the 10th anniversary of coeducation there and the college was still only 25% female. When registering at Jadwin gymnasium I was handed a T- shirt by a campus radical with a unibrow. The T-shirt said “10 Years of Women at Princeton. Glad to be Here. Too Bad it Took 250 Years”. I didn’t really relate to unibrow lady, just as Marissa does not relate to feminists now, but I knew she was important. I knew I would not be standing where I was without people like her.
So maybe Marissa needs to be a bit more cognizant of the past. SO WHAT?
The most amazing thing Marissa can do for women is be wildly successful in her current role. If she can prove that a woman (and a relatively young one with kids) can turn around a large tech company, we are all winners. And, perhaps unwittingly, yes, she gets in line with the suffragettes and braless college students in changing all of our lives.