Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer last year became Yahoo’s first female CEO.
Image: JD Lasica via Flickr CC

In a year of being in the headlines over nearly every decision she makes, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer seems to have no problem sparking debate.  The recent release of pictures from the profile of her in September’s issue of Vogue has stirred up a heated debate and onslaught of opinions about how powerful women should represent both their company and their gender.  In a world where female executives are still a very small percentage, it is not surprising that they are under extra scrutiny.  Mayer is young, attractive and comfortable with talking to the media, making her a perfect poster child for the gender role debate.

The range of opinions on Marissa Mayer’s Vogue photo shoot is all across the spectrum.  Some say her decision to be in Vogue (which is not the first fashion magazine article she has been in) only enforces the idea that women have to use their sexuality to get ahead.  Others say that embracing femininity is important to female identity regardless of job title.  Even still, some are just frustrated by the criticism itself, stating that true work place equality would mean no one would question or judge a female CEO’s personal choices.  Only thing remains clear in the sea of opinions: the debate about gender roles in business and society is not settled.

Yahoo’s stock has been hovering around the same price in the last week and has nearly doubled in value since Mayer took over, so it is impossible to say that any decision she has made is bad for the company.  Rather, her high media profile seems to make an easy venue for women to air out their own insecurities with the changing work environment, and the desire for success and family life.  Mayer appears to balance personal interests, motherhood and work with style and grace.  People would do well to commend her achievements and let her embrace her personal interests as she sees fit.