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Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:29 AM

Female Yahoo! CEO Kills Work from Home Option? Why Americans Need a More Flexible Workplace

http://www.alternet.org/female-yahoo-ceo-kills-work-home-option-why-americans-need-more-flexible-workplace



I don’t have children, although someday I hope to, but I am a big fan of efficiency and changing from pajamas into pajamas. In other words, I am a fan of working from home, which is why I was dismayed to see that Yahoo!’s new-ish CEO, Marissa Mayer, has signed off on eliminating it as an option for her employees. This is about more than lifestyle or employee cohesion (or pajama pants). It’s a deeply political move.

All Things D’s Kara Swisher, who first reported on the memo and its protest-too-much assertions that this is about “fun,” also notes that the new policy doesn’t just extend to a few hundred customer service employees, but to “any staffers who might have arrangements to work from home just one or two days a week, too.” That includes waiting for service and repair visits, and, presumably, other home responsibilities. In the name of morale and becoming “the absolute best place to work,” Yahoo! is setting back the progress and flexibility that some employees have been able to enjoy. That not only belies contemporary realities and preferences — including the fact that productivity is about a lot more than putting in hours — but its impact falls disproportionately on women.

As Nancy Folbre, an economist and editor of “For Love and Money: Care Provision in the United States,” told Salon last year, “Once upon a time, we lived in a world where men engaged in paid work and women stayed home and took care of the children, the elderly, the sick, and the disabled.” That’s not the world we live in now: Even in households with more than one adult, some form of paid work is rarely a “choice,” and someone still has to do the care work, usually on top of everything else. That someone is usually a woman, which is why state and city-level policies for paid sick days and family leave — the bare minimum of flexibility — are feminist issues.

The policy change under Mayer comes just as her fellow Google alumna, and current Facebook chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg is about to publish a book on female leadership that kicks off with her using her clout at Google to get accommodations for pregnant employees. I’m wary of catfight-like oppositions between powerful women, the kind that cropped up in the recent New York Times piece on Sandberg’s “Lean In” circles, between Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter, whose stylistic and substantive differences seem frankly minuscule to me, whatever their personal issues. But the contrast here is palpable: One executive is extolling going home early even as she urges ambition; the other wants you to stay put, regardless of actual productivity, and the consequences be damned.

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Reply Female Yahoo! CEO Kills Work from Home Option? Why Americans Need a More Flexible Workplace (Original post)
xchrom Feb 2013 OP
Xipe Totec Feb 2013 #1
nebenaube Feb 2013 #35
SharonAnn Feb 2013 #40
Lurks Often Feb 2013 #2
Fawke Em Feb 2013 #4
Lurks Often Feb 2013 #5
elzenmahn Feb 2013 #23
Lurks Often Feb 2013 #45
leftyohiolib Feb 2013 #3
hobbit709 Feb 2013 #6
KansDem Feb 2013 #9
cbdo2007 Feb 2013 #7
Orrex Feb 2013 #8
mythology Feb 2013 #10
CTyankee Feb 2013 #13
cartach Feb 2013 #14
enlightenment Feb 2013 #16
Yavin4 Feb 2013 #17
blackspade Feb 2013 #19
mikeytherat Feb 2013 #22
Live and Learn Feb 2013 #29
HangOnKids Feb 2013 #36
Gormy Cuss Feb 2013 #43
Dawgs Feb 2013 #24
NewJeffCT Feb 2013 #25
Xipe Totec Feb 2013 #26
devilgrrl Feb 2013 #31
KatyMan Feb 2013 #49
Orrex Feb 2013 #11
blackspade Feb 2013 #20
MADem Feb 2013 #30
Orrex Feb 2013 #33
MADem Feb 2013 #37
sufrommich Feb 2013 #12
MineralMan Feb 2013 #15
el scorcho Feb 2013 #18
SunSeeker Feb 2013 #21
MADem Feb 2013 #27
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #28
MADem Feb 2013 #32
cbdo2007 Feb 2013 #39
kestrel91316 Feb 2013 #48
Dreamer Tatum Feb 2013 #41
unblock Feb 2013 #34
nebenaube Feb 2013 #38
joeybee12 Feb 2013 #42
BuddhaGirl Feb 2013 #44
politicat Feb 2013 #46
frylock Feb 2013 #47

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:46 AM

1. This isn't good news for any of us

Yahoo, of all places, should be keenly aware that physical location is irrelevant in cyberspace.

And to force employees to come in to a physical office is to reject the fundamental raison d'être for companies like Yahoo.

She might as well pull the plug on Yahoo right now and save the electricity.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:14 AM

35. Agreed...

 

I question the intelligence of this one.

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Response to Xipe Totec (Reply #1)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:39 AM

40. It's also damageing to the environment. Less commuting - less pollution.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:46 AM

2. There are going to be a lot of sullen, unproductive workers at Yahoo soon.

I read the memo and found the reasoning to be crap. I'm inclined to think Marissa Mayer is a micro managing control freak and doesn't like the idea of employees working from home where they are "unsupervised".

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Response to Lurks Often (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:57 AM

4. I work from home quite frequently for many of the reasons listed:

Two school-aged children who are often sick and a mother who has health issues (and I'm an only child, so I'm "it" when it comes to taking care of her) and, she picks up my children from school, so when one is sick, they all become sick.

I often come home early and pick up the kids from school and finish my day or I simply work from home when one of the children are sick so they don't inflict it on my mother, who has a harder time recovering from any illness they would give her.

My husband doesn't have the flexibility at work that I do, so I work from home.

But, I'm hardly "unsupervised." I work on a VPN and am in constant IM contact with my boss. We're a two-person office, so we have to interact frequently. If I wasn't working, he'd know.

Mayer's reasoning is shit. She sounds like a petty tyrant.

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Response to Fawke Em (Reply #4)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:04 AM

5. Hence the quotes

There remains a type of manager who HAS to have their reports in sight where they can be "supervised" whether they need to be supervised or not.

I'm a full time work at home and I love it. Don't miss the petty office gossip and disputes, don't miss hearing about the latest reality show, don't miss hearing about other peoples children or grandchildren or how the spouse is being an ass.

I probably saving a good $5K a year not going into the office.

The only real downside to working at home is the food is much, much better.

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Response to Lurks Often (Reply #2)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:19 AM

23. She is...

At one time (she might still be doing this, anyone in the know please chime in), she was reading the resumes of all of the potential new hires. This, combined with the move away from telecommuting, leads me to believe that she might be trying to clear out what she perceived to be the remaining "dead wood" from the organization.

She's trying to change the culture over there. I say, good luck with that.

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Response to elzenmahn (Reply #23)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 01:11 PM

45. You clear out the dead wood by identifying the individual piece and removing it,

not pissing off all of your teleworkers and probably some in the office as well.

I had a co-worker who was NEVER quiet. If she wasn't talking to her neighbor, she was on the phone and if she wasn't doing either of those, she hummed and she often wore so much perfume you could literally taste it in the air. We were THRILLED when she left the office to be a teleworker.

Management wouldn't do anything because she was just productive enough to stay below the radar.

I went full time telework when they closed the office that was 10 minutes away and gave me a choice between commuting 30 minutes every day in heavy traffic to a crappy part of the city and paying for my parking. Saves me about $5k a year in gas, food and other expenses.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 07:51 AM

3. meh

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:07 AM

6. Control freak.

she can't bug them as easily when they are working from home.

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Response to hobbit709 (Reply #6)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:23 AM

9. I thought the same thing...

Power and clout are intoxicants to some minds.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:12 AM

7. My fellow employees are much less productive when working from home

than in the office. Myself as well. I'll be working from home today because of the major snow storm here but I would much rather be driving the 45 minutes each way to the office and working from there cause it's just too distracting here to get too much work done.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:21 AM

8. It's not a perfect fit for everyone

But for the people who are able to do it, it's a terrific option. Cutting the program altogether is simply a lazy attempt to grab headlines. Mission accomplished.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:25 AM

10. I agree with this

I've found I wind up working longer when I work from home as well because I'm being less productive. It might be different if I consistently worked from home, but I don't have a home office set up so it's just less comfortable and familiar for me to work at home.

Plus at my work I find that when everybody is remote due to a storm we wind up having even more meetings than we normally do. It's like people forget how to use email or IM and decide that everything needs a meeting.

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Response to mythology (Reply #10)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:45 AM

13. well, before home computers it was get to work under unsafe weather/road conditions or

take a vacation day or, eventually, have the company declare a "snow day" with pay. There are pluses and minuses to both arrangements.

Working at home isn't possible if you are caring for lots of people at home. You can't do two things at once. You have to have reliable child care/elder care or it is just not possible. Or you end up working late into the night and even then you may have to communicate with someone right then and it's midnight so...

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:53 AM

14. Productivity!

That's the main reason she wants to eliminate working from home. There's always a certain percentage of slackers and those are the ones who need supervision. I would suggest that working at home leaves one vulnerable to distractions as you say unless you're doing piecework and getting paid for actual output. A CEO also has a responsibility to get the most productivity within reason from employees and I'm sure all the factors have been considered. If existing employees don't like it they can quit and give their jobs to the hordes of unemployed out there.

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:34 AM

16. How progressive of you.

Making broad-based changes to eliminate individual issues is poor management. Your absolute faith in this CEO is touching, though.

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:39 AM

17. Bullshit. They Allow Workers Overseas to Work Remotely.

And in a lot of cases, they don't even know who it is on the other side of the world that is actually doing the work.

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:42 AM

19. Nonsense.

Productivity is not correlated w/ office work.
I'm much more productive at home than the office. Much fewer distractions.

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:50 AM

22. As a metric, productivity is very easy to gauge, regardless of my physical location.

I have to complete Task A, with all of it's parameters, in X amount of time, and I do exactly that. Did my physical location matter to the outcome? If my employer is unable to determine this, that's really pathetic.

mikey_the_rat

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:46 AM

29. Actually, numerous research studies have shown just the opposite.

Telecommuting increases productivity by approximately 13%.

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:20 AM

36. Hogwash

Hooey. Not worthy of anymore of a reply.

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Response to cartach (Reply #14)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:50 AM

43. Have you ever worked from home?

I was far more productive because no one was casually popping into the office for a quick chat and I wasn't spending so much time going to and from meeting rooms. I just picked up the phone when the meeting began.

I also didn't need as long a lunch break. In the office it would be a solid half hour to 45 minutes. At home, it was about 15.

I could "go back to work" after taking a dinner break to finish up something due the next day rather than stay in the office trying to slog through it when I was tired. I could and did work a few hours on the weekend from home on projects that had been put off during the week. I never would have hauled myself in on a Saturday to work for two hours but doing it from home was easy.


Many of my coworkers did the same. Typically it was one day a week as a scheduled telecommuting day. For a handful of us, we went from in-office staff to fulltime telecommuters when offices closed or employees moved too far away for the daily commute. The CEO of our 1000 employee company recognized that on the whole telecommuting had increased productivity and saved the company money in terms of office space allocations and staff retention.

Where telecommuting can fail is when an employee can't configure a workspace at home that is free from distractions. Most companies address this issue when telecommuting is an option.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:21 AM

24. Just the opposite for me. I have nothing but distractions while I'm in the office.

My only distraction at home is one of our cats.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:29 AM

25. It's not for everybody, but

It depends on the situation. If I’m working from home to care for my sick daughter, I’m probably less productive because I’m spending time caring for her, making her lunch, checking her temperature, etc. However, it's either work from home and get some work done, or not work from home and take a day off entirely and get zero work done.

However, if I’m home alone, I often find myself more productive in terms of work – you don’t have the distraction of annoying co-workers bothering you as directly, as well as not spending time talking about the latest big sporting event or tv show from the night before, no attractive young women about the office to distract you, etc.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:40 AM

26. I don't often have to restore a crashed service...



You want it fixed now, or you want me to come in?

Your choice.

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #7)

Wed Feb 27, 2013, 06:13 PM

49. Katyman's wife

is an RN case manager for a Medicare HMO. I have worked from home for many years and always meet or exceed my productivity standard. I am much more productive- I have no distractions at home- my office is set up; I get up and dress; no TV or radio. I have to remind myself to get up and walk around every couple of hours. Sure, I put in a few loads of laundry- on my lunch time. I do not run errands while I am on the clock. No small kids (well, no kids at home all- only cats- and they aren't demanding) I am not unusual. There are many productive work at home folk. I am one of them.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:26 AM

11. Not sure why the article needs to lead with "Female CEO"

Last edited Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:46 AM - Edit history (1)

It's not as though her uterus forced her to axe the policy, but I digress.

I wonder how many people signed onto Yahoo specifically because they were able to work from home.

I foresee major disappointment, coupled with the standard passive-aggressive rebellion in the workplace.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:44 AM

20. It's an attempt to frame the narrative.

It's like Fox using female news anchors to push their anti-women agenda.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #11)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:50 AM

30. Isn't she the first at that organization?

Isn't she the one who was also the first pregnant CEO at a "big" company, too? Yeah, here it is:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-17/mayer-becomes-highest-profile-pregnant-woman-hired-as-ceo.html

Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) Chief Executive Officer Marissa Mayer is breaking new ground for Fortune 500 companies by starting her job more than six months pregnant, a trend already embraced by young women running Silicon Valley startups.
Mayer, an engineer and former Google (GOOG) Inc. executive who helped develop the company’s home page and maps products, was hired by Yahoo after a nine-week search for a CEO. The 37-year- old brings the number of women running Fortune 500 companies to 20. Many other women on the list -- including WellPoint Inc.’s Angela Braly, PepsiCo Inc.’s Indra Nooyi and Xerox Corp.’s Ursula Burns -- had children before becoming CEOs.


“Yahoo’s board found Mayer’s pregnancy a nonissue and that’s a big sign of progress,” said Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, deputy director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, who is pregnant with twins. “But at many companies, it’s still an issue.”

Mayer and her husband, technology investor Zachary Bogue, are expecting a boy on Oct. 7, she told Fortune magazine this week after she was named Yahoo’s CEO. She disclosed to Yahoo’s board that she was pregnant in late June, Mayer said in the interview. Dana Lengkeek, a spokeswoman for Sunnyvale, California-based Yahoo, declined to comment further.


I think people thought that because of her (relative) youth and her personal situation, she would go in another direction.

I do think the people suggesting that she wants to "clear out the dead wood" have a point. Whatever her reasoning, I don't think she's going to increase morale...!

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Response to MADem (Reply #30)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:59 AM

33. You're right, of course; she's the first

But I still don't see why it was necessary to highlight this in the headline.

If Danica Patrick had crashed at Daytona, I don't expect that the headline have been:
Female Driver Crashes During 121st Lap

It's enough for the headline to identify the Yahoo CEO as the person responsible for killing this policy. They can talk about her status as "first female CEO" within the body of the article.

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Response to Orrex (Reply #33)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:21 AM

37. I suspect that the reasoning had to do with the fact that they believed she

would go in the opposite direction, seeing as she just had a child in October.

It looks like she's more in favor of a "take your kid to work" policy as opposed to "Stay home with the infant and work from the house" policy...

WIRED is saying this decision could go either way for her, and that she might go with her old workplace model at Google:

....At the same time, Google’s cocoon-like campus, with its free food and services such laundry and shoe repair, blurs the line between work and home life in a way that seems designed to keep people at the office for as many hours as possible. After all, if the company is taking care of all your needs, why would you ever need to go home? Perhaps Mayer truly does believe in the superiority of office togetherness.

“To become the absolute best place to work, communication and collaboration will be important, so we need to be working side-by-side,” the internal memo from Yahoo human resources head Jackie Reses reads. “That is why it is critical that we are all present in our offices.”

....Much has been written about the power of serendipitous encounters to fuel innovation, a serendipity encouraged by physical proximity and density. Yoav Schwartz (no relation to Tony) has been outspoken online in support of the new Yahoo policy and believes that’s the kind of environment Mayer wants to create. Schwartz is the founder and CEO of Uberflip, a 20-person startup in Toronto with a strict no-work-from-home policy. Schwartz says prospective employees learn about the policy up front, which means they know what to expect. Mayer didn’t have the chance to set that tone from the start, he says, which means having to make tough calls to reboot the workplace culture she inherited.

“It’s about being part of an ecosystem. I think that’s what Mayer was trying to convey,” Schwartz says. “If you’re building a culture, a huge part of that culture is being present within it.”
http://www.wired.com/business/2013/02/yahoo-no-work-from-home/

If Danica Patrick had crashed, I think they would have noted her gender in the headline...after all, they've done nothing but mention it since she was awarded the pole position.

Examples:
http://www.ndtv.com/photos/sports/danica-patrick-first-woman-to-take-nascar-pole-14674

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-400_162-57570987/danica-patrick-first-woman-to-lead-a-lap-at-daytona-500/

http://jalopnik.com/danica-patrick-is-now-the-first-woman-to-lead-a-lap-at-417402164

As long as there are still barriers left, there will be these kinds of headlines, no matter what the minority (or underserved majority) group. If it's not "typical," (and typical in the case of NASCAR is caucasian and male) it will be noted in the news.


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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 08:27 AM

12. I'm sure that comes with a raise in pay to cover

child care.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:15 AM

15. Very short-sighted.

This is going to hurt Yahoo, which really can't afford much more injury.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:41 AM

18. Yahoo is still in business?

who knew?

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 09:47 AM

21. This will hurt employee morale and not improve productivity.

If she did this to improve productivity, then that tells me they have incompetent supervision. That problem will not abate by chaining employees to their desks. There are many ways to insure the productivity of work-at-home employees. The fact that they have chosen not to implement them says more about what is wrong about management at Yahoo than anything about their employees.

Also, this is anti-environment and anti-family. It is particularly sad to see a female CEO do this who should know better. She appears to be suffering from the corporate version of the Stockholm Syndrome.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:41 AM

27. What an idiot.

This is going to cause hatred, resentment and productivity will suffer.

The new boss is trying to reinvent the wheel while asserting "control" over her employees. This isn't about morale, IMO, this is all about "I wanna have my EYE on you."

Dumb, dumb, dumb.

I know someone who would have had to retire due to medical issues had she not been able to work from her home. Instead, she is still working after ten years and is one of the most productive employees in her unit--but she needed to be close to home in an environment that was conducive to her being able to work comfortably. If she had to commute she wouldn't have been able to keep at it.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:42 AM

28. I'm going to assume Ms. Mayer is a Republican.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 10:57 AM

32. Doesn't look that way....she leans Dem, but might be an indy.

http://blogs.marketwatch.com/election/2012/07/17/new-yahoo-chief-a-donor-to-democrats-and-one-republican/

Yahoo Inc.’s new CEO Marissa Mayer is known for helping to create Gmail, being employee No. 20 at Google and her penchant for cupcakes. She’s also known to Democrats — and one Republican — as a generous donor.

In 2008 and 2011, Mayer gave a combined $59,300 to the Democratic National Committee, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics. She’s also given to President Barack Obama, and earlier this year contributed $2,500 to Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican known for working with Democrats.

It’s hardly unheard of for Silicon Valley executives to support Obama, but Republican challenger Mitt Romney is reportedly making inroads of his own, by raising cash from Cisco chief executive John Chambers and Hewlett Packard CEO Meg Whitman, among others.

Mayer also hosted a fundraiser for Obama at her Palo Alto, Calif. home in 2010.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:35 AM

39. Why would you assume that?

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Response to cbdo2007 (Reply #39)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 05:58 PM

48. Anti-woman, anti-worker policy being discussed here.

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Response to kestrel91316 (Reply #28)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:43 AM

41. Quick! Wish it into the cornfield! nt

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:01 AM

34. yeah, they have to show up in person to pick up their free iphone 5 and all you can eat food.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:24 AM

38. meh

 

Loss of productivity and key employees, combined with the rising price of gas. I'd dump any Yahoo! stock I had if I had any.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 11:46 AM

42. I hate Yahoo...

Their boards make Free Republic look like, well, not batshit insane.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 12:23 PM

44. Didn't she work from home when she was pregnant

and newly hired??

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 01:51 PM

46. huge mistake, but Yahoo's been circling the drain for a long time.

I've been working from home part time for seven years. My lab grew in personnel, but not physical space. I volunteered to work from home and give up my desk to someone who actually needed to be near the benches. (I'm a statistician, so as long as I have access to the servers I could work from the moon.)

Best decision ever for everyone concerned -- we are all better about scheduling and staying on task now. We now have a dozen people who do most of their work from home, and another dozen who hot-desk and work a flexible schedule. (The latter are either grad students or undergrad assistants, so flexibility is critical for their scholastic survival.)

We're also significantly better about communication because we write everything -- we communicate by email or instant message or text rather than phone or in person (except the twice-weekly staff meetings). The only people who work in the lab are those doing the chemical analysis. We have far fewer miscommunications and far, far less forgotten or procrastinated stuff. And morale is high for everyone -- the lab workers have space and the room to concentrate, we math and analysis types can go for a short walk in the middle of the day to clear our heads without someone accusing us of slacking off.

If scientists can do this, there is no reason that a tech company can't because we're using off the shelf, free or cheap software tools that are commonly available to everyone.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Feb 26, 2013, 03:57 PM

47. Does Marissa Mayer Know Something We Don't?

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