Progress? Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer reassures she will take ‘limited time away’ for birth of her twins

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Marissa Mayer, as one of the most high-profile female CEOs in the U.S., is always under scrutiny but particularly for the way she handles her work and family.

When Mayer announced Monday that she is having twin girls, as Matt O’Brien reported Monday night, it came with reassurances that she would take a “limited time away” from Yahoo.

Much like she did during the birth of her first child, she writes, she will handle it all — babies, toddler and CEO of a company in transition. What is needed is “hard work and thoughtful prioritization,” she writes.

Some people will likely groan that Mayer is setting an impossible bar for many women by doing it all simultaneously, “working throughout,” as she writes. Not many women can have a nursery built adjacent to the executive suite. Wouldn’t it be better if she walked the talk and took as much leave as Yahoo allows, signaling to male and female employees alike that it’s ok to step away?

But Mayer isn’t a typical employee, and her circumstances don’t relate to the parental leave discussion at tech firms, writes Shane Ferro of the Huffington Post. “Power and money obviate the need for workplace protections,” Ferro says. “When it comes to the need for parental leave, Mayer is the exception that proves the rule.”

I would take it a step further. We need women like Mayer who can run companies and have families, as an example that no one should prejudge mothers-to-be as stepping out of the game. If Mayer is the one calling the shots — a position many women envy — maybe she can show that it all can be done, and well, under the right circumstances.

What is sobering though is that even now, Mayer really isn’t calling the shots. She still felt a need in this era to reassure investors, partners and employees that no matter what, she will be all-in for Yahoo. A male CEO may have announced twins — yeah! — but not underlined his commitment to the enterprise. It would have been assumed.

Maybe real progress will be when the next female CEO or elected official just announces a new child on the way and everyone knows she will make it work without having to tell us.

Above: Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)