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Focus on Marissa Mayer's brain, not her pregnancy

By Roland Martin, CNN Contributor
July 21, 2012 -- Updated 1726 GMT (0126 HKT)
Roland Martin says Marissa Mayer is capable of handling her new job at Yahoo and her pregnancy.
Roland Martin says Marissa Mayer is capable of handling her new job at Yahoo and her pregnancy.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Yahoo's new CEO is Marissa Mayer, who recently revealed she's pregnant
  • Roland Martin says there's been too much discussion of her pregnancy
  • People should focus on Mayer's abilities and intelligence, he says

Editor's note: Roland S. Martin is a syndicated columnist and author of "The First: President Barack Obama's Road to the White House." He is a commentator for the TV One cable network and host/managing editor of its Sunday morning news show, "Washington Watch with Roland Martin."

(CNN) -- Yahoo announced this week that it nabbed top Google exec Marissa Mayer as their new CEO. But it's not her qualifications for the job that were all the buzz. Instead, it was her announcement that she was pregnant and will continue to work as CEO.

Social media, radio airwaves and water cooler talk was all about Mayer becoming the first-ever pregnant Fortune 500 CEO. Seriously, America, can we stop this ridiculous double standard that women have to endure when they choose to work and have kids?

Every time a woman is in position to ascend to the top post, be it in politics or business, we immediately begin to question her uterus instead of her brain.

Tech: Know Mayer in 11 fun facts

Roland Martin
Roland Martin

It goes to show how male-dominated we are in our thinking. We might as well go ahead and say that we prefer men to go to work and women stay at home and raise the kids.

In the past, when women put in the long years to rise to the top, for the most part, they were past their child bearing years. Now that we are seeing women rise up the corporate ladder faster than before, we had better get used to it.

In Mayer's case, she is 37 years old. And there is nothing wrong with her choosing to have a child and continue as CEO. Will she take some time off? Of course. But please explain to me what's the difference between a male CEO taking some time off for medical leave and Mayer having a child?

Marissa Mayer takes over at Yahoo!
E-Block: Yahoo's surprising CEO pick

At Apple, the late Steve Jobs took a medical leave. Was he still involved in running the company as he sought treatment for cancer? Yep. The company was questioned more for not revealing enough detail about his absence because he was such a critical player in its success.

Tech: Six life lessons from Yahoo CEO

Recently, three companies -- American Equity, Sourcefire and Union Pacific -- announced that their CEOs were taking medical leaves.

The CEO clearly is the most critical person in a company's leadership chain. But a smart chief executive officer is also smart enough to build a strong team that has the ability to manage the decision-making while the CEO is out of the office.

When there is so much negative discussion over a woman choosing to have a career and a family, we are sending a shameful message at a time when we should be encouraging women instead of discouraging them.

Maybe we should flip the conversation and discuss when it makes sense for men married to high-powered women to step back from their careers in order to raise the child.

Living: If Mayer can have it all, can you?

Years ago Michael Keaton touched on the topic in the movie "Mr. Mom" in which he was a corporate executive who lost his job while his wife shot up the chart at her company. He struggled with having to raise the kids, but finally came to the conclusion that he could do the job.

But it seems that as a nation, we are afraid to have that conversation. Maybe this is because we are too afraid to let go of the traditional "man-brings-home-the-bacon-and-the-woman-fries-it-in-the-pan" mentality.

Well, I'm not. I want to see Mayer succeed as CEO of Yahoo, as well as be a good mother to her child. And since everyone talks about her brilliance, she'll likely pull it off with ease and grace.

Opinion: Mayer can revive Yahoo, and the Web

So, Marissa, handle your business at Yahoo, and at home!

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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Roland S. Martin.

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