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Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer Says Gender Isn’t Relevant in the Tech Industry: “I Never Play the Gender Card”



In a recent interview with Backchannel, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer was asked if she thought a male CEO with similar attributes would have received the same level of personal criticism that she’s experienced during her time at the company. But according to Backchannel, “Mayer wants nothing to do with that form of support.”

I never play the gender card […] The moment you play into that, it’s an issue. In technology we live at a rare, fast-moving pace. There are probably industries where gender is more of an issue, but our industry is not one where I think that’s relevant.


When she started at Yahoo in July of 2012, the former technologist was pregnant and the company’s fifth CEO in twelve months. In the thirty-one months since she’s been criticized for her pregnancy and choice of child care accommodations, her appearance in a Vogue photoshoot, and for imposing restrictions on telecommuting that might affect female employees—all issues that I doubt would have been as widely discussed had Mayer been a man.

At a Yahoo meeting in 2013, the CEO was told by a shareholder “I’m Greek and I’m a dirty old man, and you look attractive.” In recent months, the media has even exploited potential hard feelings between Gwyneth Paltrow (allegedly passed over for a role at Yahoo because she didn’t have a college degree) and Mayer, with some outlets even claiming that Paltrow would be better suited for the role of CEO than Mayer herself. (Name me one male C.E.O. who’s been pitted against the founder of Goop. One.)

My point isn’t that Mayer is necessarily wrong (although many studies have shown that, yes, gender is very much still an issue in tech), or that she’s misinterpreting or misrepresenting her experience as CEO. Given the pressure she’s already experienced to act as an ambassador for all women, I also don’t think Mayer has any obligation to use her role as a platform to effect change; she’s a trailblazer by nature of her gender alone, and it’s unreasonable to expect individual women to shoulder the entire burden of the gender gap when there are literally countless male execs who could do the same.

But given the criticism Mayer’s experienced in the past simply for being a woman in a position of power, who wouldn’t be afraid to “play the gender card?” If you want evidence of a double standard in tech, just look at the backlash against influential women who do try to talk about it.

(via Business Insider)

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