Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is facing intense backlash for her decision to ban workers from telecommuting. Female bloggers have been particularly brutal and chances are they really aren’t going to like the latest development in the controversy.
“I don’t think that I would consider myself a feminist. I think that, I certainly believe in equal rights. I believe that women are just as capable, if not more so, in a lot of different dimensions. But I don’t, I think, have sort of the militant drive and sort of the chip on the shoulder that sometimes comes with that. And I think it’s too bad, but I do think feminism has become, in many ways, a more negative word. There are amazing opportunities all over the world for women, and I think that there’s more good that comes out of positive energy around that than negative energy.”
You can watch Mayer’s full segment over at www.makers.com.
As Quartz’s Matt Phillips was wise to note, Mayer’s quote was likely taken out of the context of a much longer interview (she was one of at least 160 women profiled –– that’s a lot to pack into a three-hour documentary).
“We don’t know what else she might have said for the camera, but phrases like ‘militant drive,’ ‘chip on the shoulder,’ and ‘negative energy’ are sure to rile those who proudly consider themselves feminists,” Phillips writes. “And the flap over Yahoo’s work-from-home policy could make for a kind of perfect storm in gender politics.”
Mayer certainly isn’t the first prominent woman to shrug off the term, but there’s no arguing that sometime over the last half century, “Feminism” went from being the battle cry for female empowerment to a term many young women shy away from altogether.
“It’s almost remarkable that ‘feminism’ has survived as long as it has, stigmatised as it’s been by a sneering right, and criticised by groups on the left for its early lack of interest in the concerns of poor and minority women,” Rebecca Traister, author of “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” wrote in a Salon.com article.
“Now, as second-wave feminists look to the future and see a generation of women with a very different set of battles than their own, the question becomes: What do we do about ‘feminism’? Does it have anything to do with younger female activism anymore, or is it simply an Achilles’ heel? Do we replace it, phase it out?”
Whether Feminism endures or not, the differences between women and men in the workplace continues to be a point of controversy. Women still earn less than men at every level of education, and women hold just 17 per cent of senior management roles in the U.S.
It would be interesting to hear Mayer speak out more on the topic, but so far she’s remained mum on the work-from-home ban.