Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has caused controversy after a 3000-word profile in Vogue featured a stylised photograph of her in a fashionable blue dress, lying on a white lawn chair.
Mayer joins a slew of male CEOs who have appeared in Men’s magazines such as Alan Joyce of Qantas and Radek Sali of Swisse who have appeared in GQ. Despite the commonality of such appearances for male executives, Mayer’s photograph has sparked debate in the media regarding the representation of women in the C-suite.
Media outlets and corporate workers commented on the piece being wince-inducing, with claims the photograph undermined Mayer’s credibility, CNN reported.
However, others have defended the piece. “We’re used to seeing CEOs standing like Superman or leaning forward at comically large desks. These are masculine poses thanks to the fact that 96% of CEOs are male,” Linda Lacina, special reports editor at Entrepreneur.com, said.
Steve Cody, writing for Inc.com, stated his concern with the piece working against Mayer. He highlighted the article’s opening quote in which Mayer discusses her love for heavily divisible numbers, questioning if such comments would inspire the business community.
In the interview, Mayer stated “And I was like, 'Oh right, it would be nice to have an impact that’s bigger than just me.' It’s not like I had a grand plan where I weighed all the pros and cons of what I wanted to do – it just sort of happened.’”
Cody wrote in response: “Like, how totally rad is that? Marissa just, kinda, like, suddenly rose through Google’s ranks, and was plucked away by a knight in shining armor (Daniel Loeb, an active investor on Yahoo’s board) to run the beleaguered tech giant.”
With Mayer’s reinvigoration of Yahoo is overshadowed by the criticism towards the article, the broader issues facing women’s ascension to the C-suite are once again brought to light.
HC has previously reported on the array of factors holding back women from advancing to executive positions. While the mind-sets of others in the workplace can prevent women’s rise, many women have stated their own fears and anxieties have prevented them from advancing.
Dissatisfaction with corporate politics has also been highlighted as a reason women are not entering the C-suite.
With concern for the politics and older workplace cultures holding women back in the workplace, is Mayer’s appearance in Vogue perhaps a positive? What do you think of the photo and the article?
*Image credit: Vogue. Click here to read Mayer’s profile.