She’s sexy, she’s stylish, and she became a CEO totes by accident! This is the message of Vogue‘s profile of Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer, who has rankled feminists both radical and moderate by refusing to think about women’s issues in any kind of systemic way…or at all. While the profile helped me gain some insight into why that is—a relatively privileged upbringing and an atomized nerdiness that may speak to a lower than average empathy for the majority of humanity—Marissa Mayer is a grown woman, and a demonstrably smart one, so that doesn’t get her off the hook. And Vogue‘s fawning, wide-eyed tone does her no favors. Hence, I give you in no particular order: the 11 most WTF quotes from Marissa Mayer’s big ass Vogue profile.
“I really like even numbers, and I like heavily divisible numbers. Twelve is my lucky number—I just love how divisible it is. I don’t like odd numbers, and I really don’t like primes. When I turned 37, I put on a strong face, but I was not looking forward to 37. But 37 turned out to be a pretty amazing year. Especially considering that 36 is divisible by twelve!”
Just because someone is a CEO doesn’t mean they can’t believe in dumb things like numerology.
The next [thing you notice] is that she is an unusually stylish geek. The day we had that conversation in her white, glossy, minimally appointed office in Sunnyvale, California, she was wearing a red Michael Kors dress with a gold belt and a brown Oscar de la Renta cardigan. This cashmere bolero is her work uniform—she has the same one in ivory, navy, black, hot pink, teal, red, and royal blue, and adds new colors every season.
This reflects more on Vogue than on her. Would anyone ever catalog the clothes worn by a male CEO?
She is extremely driven, and that inspires people. Developers are excited about working for a leader like her, someone who says, “I’m in; who’s with me?” And they’re excited about working for an underdog.
Fast-rising employees of fortune 500 companies with venture capitalist husbands are totally underdogs.
Mayer elaborates, a little defensively, on her reasons for the change [whereby Yahoo! employees were no longer permitted to work from home]. She never meant it as any kind of larger statement about society, but simply as the right decision for Yahoo, where by various accounts working from home often meant hardly working. Teams are happier now that absent participants don’t teleconference in for meetings. Messages on Yahoo’s “devel-random” e-mail list, the company’s informal forum, have lately turned positive. And in perhaps the clearest sign of support, employees have, she tells Dyson, “stopped leaking my e-mails to the press.”
Either that, or she got better at getting employees to snitch each other out. And as someone who currently works more than 40 hours a week from home, I wish Mayer’s pronouncement were true. My under-eye bags would be a lot smaller.
At some point, the guests notice that she’s vanished. She calls this her ‘CEO exit,’ disappearing upstairs without good-byes while the party carries on.
Marissa Mayer=Willy Wonka in heels.
Once, reading The Stanford Daily, she was laughing over a column about campus icons—the local man who abuses passersby, the guy in the sandwich shop who always gets your order wrong. “And there was literally a line in there that said ‘the blonde woman in the upper-division computer-science classes.’ And I was, like, I’m a woman in the upper-division computer-science classes—I should know this person! I really had just been very blind to gender. And I still am.’”
Marissa Mayer does not think about things outside of her tiny rich lady bubble. Or, conversely: Marissa Mayer cannot recognize references to herself.
At Google, Mayer’s approach was the opposite of her friend Sheryl Sandberg’s. As employee number 20, she was often asked how it felt to be the only woman on engineering teams. She’d answer truthfully: She hadn’t noticed.
Marissa Mayer is even more conservative than Sheryl Sandberg. At least she doesn’t claim to be a feminist. Maybe I like her better for that reason.
“I didn’t set out to be at the top of technology companies,” she insists. “I’m just geeky and shy and I like to code,” she says. “Once, Eric Schmidt [then Google’s CEO] pointed out to me that at Google, when you want to have an impact that’s bigger than just you, you move from being an individual contributor to managing a team. . . . 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.”
Tee hee, look at me, becoming CEO by accident. It could happen to you!
Working through a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich and a cup of pretzels from the cafeteria, she disarms confrontation with an easy, whinnying laugh.
So plebian in taste and horselike in laugh! Marissa Mayer is just like us.
Could she nurture a new baby and a corporate turnaround at the same time?
Thanks to Mayer’s financial resources and physical capacity, this turned out not to be much of an issue.
Marissa Mayer is so capacious she can incubate up to four babies at once!
“One night I looked up and was like, ‘Oh, my God, it’s midnight and I have a husband and I’m, like, eight months pregnant. I need to leave!’ I was just here working, having the best possible time. When Zack and I were brushing our teeth in the morning, he was like, ‘Where were you last night?’
Were it not for her rejection of “feminism,” I would think Marissa Mayer was invented by Sheryl Sandberg to prove that spending every waking moment at work is so easy and fun you won’t even notice you’re doing it. Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure she’s real.