Being Feminine and Successful in a Male Oriented Environment: Marissa Mayer
Women have made tremendous strides in the business world since the 1970s, but they still have mountainous hurdles to overcome and they are underrepresented as CEOs and top flight board members on corporations which tout their token female amidst a gaggle of males who hail from a long history of other stellar leadership positions. How the token females have maintained their power position yet become integrated in a male dominated sphere which has operated with privileged comfort for centuries is a new phenomenon.
Each decade, women have adjusted and moved forward, from the pose of adopting a tough, no nonsense attitude (the "B" word) to being positively masculine in their Alpha determination to "be better than their male colleagues," yet still retaining their humor, their femininity, their grace. The overriding influence still remains that "Y" chromosome and women somehow must, above all, deal with feeling short changed, even if the horizon has lightened since their grandmother's and mother's time.
The grandmothers of the current generation grew up during the war years. Many worked because the men were off in battle and their jobs ended when the men returned. Few were college educated. Their daughters, the mothers of Generation Y became educated in increasing numbers. In 1960, 39% of undergraduates were women and today, more than half are. The important factor to note is that without benefit of female parental role models, women have made significant strides in business and continue to defy the former "wisdom" of past practice and upturning it on its head.
Marissa Mayer's recent appointment as Yahoo's CEO was coupled with her announcement to Fortune's Pattie Sellers that she is the first Fortune 500 CEO to accept the position while pregnant. Yes, this is a milestone for women if we view the events historically. Consider that a mere 50 years ago, pregnant women rarely worked, and if they did, they took extended unpaid leaves during their pregnancies and/or were fired as unfit to work.Continued on the next page