Why Marissa Mayer Should Embrace Feminism — Your Ideas Wanted

by cv harquail on July 17, 2012


Just when we’re celebrating that another woman has become CEO of a major corporation– and a tech one at that — we discover that she doesn’t think of herself as a feminist.

That means, something’s wrong.

Let’s see what we can do to help Marissa Mayer understand what feminism is, why she might want to be one, and what she can do differently and better when she sees herself as a feminist.

Here’s a plan for helping Ms. Mayer understand and embrace feminism —

  • Check out this draft of an open letter to Ms. Mayer.
  • Consider your own advice about feminism and business
  • Add your advice to the comments section.
  • Also, add any comments about revising the letter itself.

On Weds. I’ll recraft this post to include everyone’s recommendations. Then, we’ll post it for Ms. Mayer and for anyone else who might want to learn about feminism in business.  ~~~

Dear Ms. Mayer-

Congratulations on your big news! Both of your announcements this week – that you’re taking the helm of a struggling tech company, and that you’re preparing for the birth of your first child – make us feminists in business really, really happy. We’re happy for you, for your family, for Yahoo, for women in tech, and for women in general.

You’re continuing to pursue an ambitious path, and we really want you to succeed.

There’s one issue, though, where your track record gives us pause, and that’s around your stated lack of connection to feminism. If you can’t see yourself as a feminist, and if you can’t see yourself as a role model for women specifically as well as for anyone with business & family ambitions, that’s a problem. We want to help you solve it.

We feminists, the women and men contributing to this post, have some ideas for you.

We’d like to help you re-shape how you think about feminism, and we’d like to offer you advice from what we have learned as we’ve worked to combine professional ambition with our family & life goals.

We believe that it’s only when you have a feminist understanding of the challenges around you that you can stay sane, stay focused and make a difference.

Your distance from feminism may have many sources.

We want to address the right ones, so we need some help diagnosing your concerns.

We’re not sure from your public comments what the actual issue is. Is it that:

    • You may not want to be a feminist (You don’t believe that women and men should have equal opportunity.)
    • You may not want to call yourself a feminist (You don’t like to label yourself.)
    • You may not understand what it means to be a feminist (You have an outdated or superficial understanding of feminism.)
    • You may not know how to be a feminist in public (It’s not that hard, but it starts with understanding the power of feminism).

We also want to offer you some real actions steps.

In a nutshell, here’s our advice for you. Underneath these bullet points, we offer more texture and some resources for you.

  1. Understand modern day feminism
  2. Recognize how feminism has helped you get where you are
  3. Consider how your views about yourself, about business, and about your CEO role map onto feminist goals
  4. Recognize how, as a woman in a public & powerful role, you can help change the system
  5. Recognize that other feminists are out here ready to support you and encourage you.


Okay feminists, start your engines. Add your feminist advice for Marissa Mayer to the comments, below.

(Please be sure to add your email so that I can follow up if we need more info about your ideas. Also, tag your advice to an action step or a diagnosis, to make it easier to combine with others.)


Comments on this entry are closed.