News Column

Female Executives' Actions Causing Controversy

March 15, 2013

Amelia Robinson

Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer
Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer

There may be a relatively small number of them, but female executives sure know how to stir the pot.

That's the conclusion drawn from the buzz created recently by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, and Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's CEO.

Very different actions by both have touched on feminism, femininity and the American family.

First, let's take a look at Mayer's actions.

A few weeks ago, the 37-year-old infamously stirred up a hot bowl of creamy controversy when it was leaked that she issued a policy banning telecommuting. The move particularly irked working parents -- moms especially -- with child care issues. There were screams that Mayer -- who has a nursery next to her office for her own child -- is biased against women, elitist and out of touch with the modern world.

A recently released study from the nonprofit Families and Work Institute found that 63 percent of employers surveyed allow at least some employees to work partially from home occasionally. That's up from 34 percent in a comparable study done for the institute in 2005.

In the modern age, do most white collar (desk) workers really need to go into the office?

While some need the camaraderie and group creativity sometimes fostered in offices, reader "Jennifer" said she loves working from home and have done so for five years.

"Several things I like about working from home: I'm rarely sick, because I'm not working with people who come to work sick. I avoid the gossiping and political and bureaucratic (explicit). I don't get caught in traffic in the morning and the evening. The one thing that is challenging is that, with some companies, it can be very isolating. I now work for a company that does an excellent job of pulling remote staff into the fold and making us feel like we're part of the team," she wrote on my blog found a

Working from home aside, Sandberg, the Facebook COO, has drawn controversy for a 'self help book,' of all things.

Full disclosure, I haven't read Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead." The subjects Sandberg addresses makes me want to read it. Sandberg contends -- according to what I've read and watched -- that women hold themselves back at work too often.

The 43-year-old says women turn down opportunities at work and worry too much about being liked by others.

Sandberg, the former chief of staff at the United States Treasury, say she's fallen into traps at work, too.

She only negotiated her salary at Facebook after her brother-in-law urged her not to accept the initial offer blindly, according to an Entertainment Weekly review of the book.

Sandberg told CBS' "60 Minutes" that women start leaning back and play it safe.

"They say 'Oh, I am busy. I want to have a child some day, I couldn't possibly take on any more' or 'I am still learning on my current job'," Sandberg said. "I've never had a man say that kind of stuff to me."

She says the data shows that women and girls put themselves behind men and boys when it comes to ambition to lead.

The Dayton region, for instance, has women in 'power' positions, but many of those positions are not 'high-powered' positions.

This, of course, doesn't mean that there are no women in high-powered positions in this community. The Dayton area is well ahead of the national average for women heading up hospitals, data shows.

But when you really look at it, the stats are pretty bad for female execs in the workplace. Of the 500 largest corporations in the world, only 13 had a female chief executive officer in 2010, according to United Nation.

As Sandberg points out, there are other barriers to success. The glass ceiling is still very real and not everyone has been afforded the opportunities and contacts those like Sandberg enjoy.

For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel

Source: (c)2013 the Dayton Daily News (Dayton, Ohio) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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