During her 4 years at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer has been one of the most heavily scrutinised tech CEOs by the press.
Part of it has to do with the fact that she was a once-celebrated executive at Google. Some of it is due to her failed effort to turnaround Yahoo, an internet icon that has consistently been the target of activist investors and which on Monday sold itself to Verizon for $5 billion.
But Mayer believes there’s also a certain level of gender-bias that plays into it.
Speaking to the Financial Times shortly after announcing the sale of Yahoo, Mayer had some sharp words to say about the press coverage around women in general:
“I’ve tried to be gender blind and believe tech is a gender neutral zone but do think there has been gender-charged reporting…We all see the things that only plague women leaders, like articles that focus on their appearance, like Hillary Clinton sporting a new pantsuit. I think all women are aware of that, but I had hoped in 2015 and 2016 that I would see fewer articles like that. It’s a shame.”
Despite all the negative coverage around her, Mayer has never really criticised the press in public. In fact, in an interview with Backchannel’s Steven Levy last year, Mayer shrugged off any gender issues in the tech industry, saying it’s “not relevant.”
“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,” she said at the time.
If anything, Mayer’s been criticised for her brutal work ethic. She took less than a month leave after having her twin babies, and was even reported to have worked in her hospital bed — causing some people to blame her for setting a bad example for all working mothers in the US who don’t get guaranteed paid maternity leave.