A few years ago, I desperately needed a raise and only had a few months to get one, or so I thought.
Just a few weeks pregnant with my second child, I was giddily expecting a new baby but deeply worried about the cost. Bankrolling my husband and 2-year-old son on a single income was already dicey. The prospect of affording a reasonable amount of maternity leave and subsequent lifetime of doubling down on kid expenses -- from diapers through college tuition -- was daunting. (Yes, we chose to have a second, and no, we did not perform thorough due diligence on our budget.)
As I saw it, I had about three to four months to negotiate for more money or a promotion or find a new job before my body took me out of the running. I worried that my higher-ups would think that I wasn't serious about work and that they would believe I'd be distracted by family obligations.
The news about Marissa Mayer apparently proves me wrong.
On Monday, Mayer, a 37-year-old engineer with more than a decade experience at Google, scored the top job at Yahoo, making her the 20th female CEO in the Fortune 500. Later that day, Mayer stunned many when she revealed that she is pregnant with her first child and due in October.
Mayer, also now the youngest CEO on Fortune's list, told the magazine that Yahoo's board of directors were apparently unconcerned with her pregnancy. "They showed their evolved thinking," she told Fortune's Patricia Sellers.
In a TED talk a few years ago, one of Mayer's former peers at Google, Sheryl Sandberg, told professional women "don't leave before you leave." In other words, don't scale back your career ambitions because you plan on having a family someday.
Mayer's promotion certainly lends credence to that advice. She worked insane hours in her first years at Google, pulling at least one all-nighter a week, according to this story from the Wall Street Journal's FINS site, which highlights this quote:
"Part of Google was it was the right time and we had a great technology, but the other part was we worked really, really hard," she said. "It was 130 hour weeks. People say, 'there's only 168 hours in a week, how can you do it?' Well, if you're strategic about when you shower and sleeping under your desk, it can be done."
These aren't the words of a woman who's checked out early in anticipation of a new baby.
For me, checking out wasn't ever an option. Even when I had my first kid and my new mom brain was fogged by sleepless nights, I still needed to make money. Indeed, that need was even greater -- as it is for many many millions of women, mothers and, yes, fathers. We all need to believe that pregnancy does not block your career trajectory.
Some bloggers point out that Mayer is in rarefied company. She can afford to work endless hours and can hire a team of nannies to make it all work. Still, however exceptional her good news might be, it is inspiring.
Her example came two years too late for me. But, as it turns out, I did not need to worry. I started asking for a raise when I was just a few weeks pregnant, ultimately raising my hand for a promotion at work. Then, as my due date approached and my managers waffled around, I broke the news.
They also "showed their evolved thinking."
Dear reader, I got that promotion.
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