You Go Girl: Why You Shouldn’t Feel Guilty About Your Success


When Yahoo recently announced Marissa Mayer as its new CEO – and only the 20th female CEO in the Fortune 500 – you’d kinda expect women to cheer. But Mayer’s golden opportunity, her $70 million pay package and the fact that one of the world’s largest Internet companies is literally putting its fate into her capable hands hardly entered into public reaction. Because Mayer is pregnant. And while countless working women around the world have managed to successfully balance a baby in one hand and a Blackberry in the other, few are cheering Mayer’s drive to have it all.

In fact, most of the buzz appears to be centered around Mayer’s decision to only take a few weeks of maternity leave – and work through it to boot. The overwhelming reaction is that if this first-time mom can handle the challenge, it’ll mean a sacrifice of the leave-the-baby-at-home-with-a-nanny variety. It’ll mean being torn between motherhood and a career that up to this point, has been her baby. And the underlying current in all of this debate is that whatever arrangement Mayer works out, it will (or should) entail feeling very, very guilty. Whether that guilt should be directed at the fact that she won’t be the kind of mother who spends all day making nutritious meals and attending playgroups or because at 37, she’s already worth a fortune (and hasn’t she done enough?), isn’t clear.

What is clear is that when a woman dares to make no apologies, to be employed, ambitious and hungry for more, it makes everyone a little uncomfortable, and perhaps women most of all. And swirling in all that debate is one fundamental truth that persists about women despite all the doors that continue to open for us: we have a hard time owning that success, even when, as in Mayer’s case, it isn’t our own. Read more in my new post on


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