Sheryl Sandberg: Marissa Mayer's Under Fire Because She's A Woman

Sheryl Sandberg: No Man Would Be Criticized Like Marissa Mayer

Marissa Mayer has drawn more haters than defenders for her decision to forbid Yahoo employees from permanently working from home. But on Thursday, she gained the support of one of the corporate tech world's most prominent players: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg.

While not specifically commenting on the substance of Mayer's decision, Sandberg defended the Yahoo CEO's right to make it in a feature story in Time magazine by Belinda Luscombe.

Sandberg points to how quickly people criticized her friend Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo, who went back to work two weeks after having a child and recently appeared to make Yahoo’s work practices a lot less flexible. “No one knows what happened there,” she says. “I think flexibility is important for women and for men. But there are some jobs that are superflexible and some that aren’t.” Regardless, she believes no man who ordered the same policies would have come under fire the way Mayer has.

While the new rule at Yahoo permits "occasionally [having] to stay home for the cable guy," banning working from home for any length of time has an outsized effect on working parents, many of whom are women. Sandberg, a mother herself like Mayer, would be one of the first to point this out.

However, by saying "No one knows what happened there," Sandberg may be tacitly acknowledging that telecommuting was being abused at Yahoo. Several ex-Yahoo employees complained to The Huffington Post and Business Insider that the work-from-home system was being milked. In either case, it looks like Sandberg is sensibly upset when, as she sees it, a fellow female executive is lambasted in the media in a way her male equivalent wouldn't be.

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Before You Go

Advice To Job Hunting Women
"Find something you're passionate about and just love. Passion is really gender-neutralizing," Marissa Mayer said on Martha Stewart's "Women with Vision" television series in 2011.
The Pie 'Isn't Big Enough'
"Right now is a great time to be a woman in tech, but there's not enough women in tech," Mayer told a CES2012 panel hosted by CNET. "[I] worry a lot of times the conversation gets really focused on what percentage of the pie is women. And the truth is, the pie isn't big enough. We're not producing enough computer scientist. We're not producing enough product designers. We need a lot more people to keep up with all of these gadgets, all of this technology, all these possibilities."Mayer also commented on the stereotypical culture within the tech world: "There's all kinds of different women who do this. You can wear ruffles, you can be a jock, and you still be a great computer scientist or a great technologist, or a great product designer."
Tangible Technology
"There's just huge growth and opportunity. [T]he fact that the technology is now so tangible in our everyday lives, I think, will inspire a lot more women to go into technology -- and I'm really heartened by that," Mayer said for the MAKERS "Women in Tech" interview series in 2012.
Internet Empowered
"I consider myself incredibly lucky to be present in a moment in time when this wonderful and powerful medium, the internet, is empowering geeks -- and especially female geeks -- to express and pursue their passions," Meyer said in a 2012 acceptance speech at the Celebrating Change gala. She had just won the International Museum of Women's first-ever Innovator Award.
Geekin' Out
"People ask me all the time, 'What is it like to be a woman at Google?' I'm not a women at Google; I'm a geek at Google. And being a geek is just great," she said in an interview for CNN's "Leading Women" series in 2012.