Even today, women in leadership positions face many challenges related to their gender. There are many existing stereotypes that continue to haunt successful women. Even though “… women occupy more then half of all management and professional positions … (Northouse, 2013, p.356)” they still face criticism and hurdles on their way to executive leadership roles.
Recently Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer faced harsh criticism for eliminating telework at the company. Removing the ability to telework is in opposition to a growing trend. Her reasoning is sound and based on solid evidence and stands in opposition to the stereotype that “… women take care and men take charge (Northouse, 2013, p.358)”.
Mayer researched Virtual Private Network (VPN) logs that indicate the frequency and length of time that remote employees connect to the Yahoo corporate network from remote locations such as home. The logs indicated that employees were not connecting through the VPN enough to be “… contributing to Yahoo as a company (Dunn, 2013)”. Yahoo is facing tough challenges and Mayer states “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. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people, and impromptu team meetings. Speed and quality are often sacrificed when we work from home. We need to be one Yahoo!, and that starts with physically being together (Goudreau, 2013)”.
Even though the decision was based on sound reasoning and evidence many criticized her decision and suggested that as a recent mother she should be more understanding of the need for work-life balance and how telework is beneficial. Many of the articles are quick to point out that Mayer was five-months pregnant when she took over the company as well as being the youngest, and one of the very few, CEOs of a fortune 500 company (Goudreau, 2013).
Her decision faced comments in the press relating to how women are viewed as leaders. Traditional stereotypes would indicate that a woman would be more nurturing and lenient to their employees. This decision is in opposition to “… presumed gender difference in commitment to employment and motivation to lead (Northouse, 2013, p.358)”. In addition “… women are stereotyped with communal characteristics such as concern for others, sensitivity, warmth, helpfulness, and nurturance (Northouse, 2013, p.358)”. The decision to end telework was a bold leadership move contrary to gender stereotypes facing women.
Dunn, J. (2013, April 4). Yahoo CEO Mayer Checked VPN Logs Before Banning Home Working. CIO.com. Retrieved from http://www.cio.com/article/729681/Yahoo_CEO_Mayer_Checked_VPN_Logs_Before_Banning_Home_Working
Goudreau, J. (2013, February 25). Back To the Stone Age? New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Bans Working From Home. Forbes.com. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2013/02/25/back-to-the-stone-age-new-yahoo-ceo-marissa-mayer-bans-working-from-home/
Northouse, P.G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and Practice. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.