Will Mayer's Pregnancy Hinder Her at Yahoo?

Tuesday, 17 Jul 2012 | 5:23 PM ET

In addition to the surprise announcement that Marissa Mayer is Yahoo's new CEO came some other unexpected news: Mayer is expecting.

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Mayer, 37, took to Twitter on Monday night to announce that she was pregnant. She said she and her husband are expecting a baby boy. She later said she is due in October and will work throughout her maternity leave.

Mayer's decision to not take maternity leave raises interesting issues about women in the corporate world and has spurred debate over whether women can really ever have separate family and work lives.

'No one can truly have it all. Parenting ebbs and flows as our kids get older and business ebbs and flows," Tereza Nemessanyi, founder of HonestlyNow.com, said Tuesday on CNBC. "The question is ... what does she need to do to get her job done? ... I think we should be asking all women that: What do you need to get the job done, and can we give it to you?"

Yahoo's New CEO Marissa Mayer Disclosed Pregnancy
Discussing women in technology and business on the heels of Yahoo's new CEO announcement, with Pattie Sellers, Fortune Magazine editor-at-large; Tereza Nemmesanyi, HonestlyNow.com founder/CEO; and Anne Mulcahy, former chairman/CEO of Xerox. "Marissa told me she is pregnant, but will take a few weeks maternity leave, and work throughout it," says Sellers.

Nemessanyi, who also runs a blog called Mashups, Market and Motherhood, has worked with a number of Fortune 500 companies and startups and said Mayer is capable of carrying out her duties at Yahoo as long as she has the right support in place. In fact, if more mothers were given the right support in their work life, businesses would be better off, she said.

"I've been in innovation for 20 years, I've been a mother for nine years and the thinking in American business has tended to be the two are mutually exclusive and that's a big problem," Nemessanyi said. "We are leaving a ton of innovation and a ton of jobs on the table. And we can't afford that anymore."

While Mayer's decision to take on the challenge of turning around Yahoo during her pregnancy may be inspiring to some women, it's also important not to have the pregnancy detract from Mayer's talents, said Anne Mulcahy, former chairwoman and CEO of Xerox and a CNBC contributor.

"I think the fact that she's pregnant takes away from what a great hire they've made," Mulcahy said. "She brings, I think, some great capabilities to Yahoo in terms of what she's done in user experience and innovation. All of that says that the board made a really good decision, and although it is a really tough challenge, she comes well-equipped to take it on."

email: tech@cnbc.com

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