Female chief executives face far more scrutiny over certain decisions than men do. Search for Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer or YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki’s names with “maternity leave” and you’ll see dozens of stories about the choices they’ve made as new parents. There’s an inherent sexism in the unequal scrutiny and imposed expectations that we, the public and the press, put on female CEOs when it comes to parental leave and children.
But what about male ones? Google Larry Ellison, Sergey Brin, Elon Musk, or, well, pretty much any current or former top male tech exec and “paternity leave” and see what you get. What would happen if the male CEO of a major public tech company said he was taking several months off after the birth or adoption of a child? And what if that executive were, say, someone like Mark Zuckerberg who recently announced his wife is expecting, and whose company has championed expansive benefits for parents?
But in order to allay any fears from men—or women—about taking time off, the culture of a company still matters. “We need senior men to say, ‘This is important to me and my organization’,” says Anne Weisberg, senior vice president of the nonprofit Families and Work Institute. “We need senior men to say, ‘We believe in parental leave,’ to make it not just a women’s issue—to make it an issue of working families, because that’s what it is.”
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