Poor Marissa Mayer, no sooner did she call the troops back to mothership Yahoo!, than Sir Richard Branson's all over her back branding the decision 'backward.' And scroll a few articles down from there and you'll see Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook doing her darndest to energise and empower woman with her 'Lean In' campaign and you'd think she called it 'get the hell outta there...and fast' by all the hoopla and 'level-setting' in the press.
Does anyone see the irony? These are two whip-smart women making decisions, trying to be leaders, and having (gasp!) a point-of-view and all we want to do is drag them down...way down.
For the record, I work from home and have for the better part of the past decade and, yes, it means you never, ever 'leave' work, but it makes me more productive, imaginative and a better CEO of the 'Edwards Household'. I do work in the tech industry, which makes it an easier choice. But I've also spent a lot of time on the sprawling Yahoo! campus and, frankly, maybe there is something to be said for fostering solidarity and fraternity at a large company where you may indeed be tempted to 'bike/hike', I mean, 'work' from home.
I would, although, suggest that Marissa's decision to build a nursery adjacent to her office was poorly timed. But c'mon Richard, you have a fleet of airplanes and an island; I wouldn't want to work from the office if I were you either!
And as for Sheryl...she's trying. I do think it's hard for many people to swallow the mantra of a women's rights cheerleader with a Harvard degree and a formidable (male) mentor (economist Larry Summers). And my personal take is that it's not about a lack of ambition in women. It's about how 'ambition' is defined. I know many people whose ambition is a decent night's sleep (all you parents out there) and not world domination. Is that so wrong?
Frankly I hope that, in the future, we can create a work ecosystem that is flexible, supportive, focused on results and values all different backgrounds and skills. One woman (or man)'s 'having it all' is another's worst nightmare. And I know smart women 'leaning in' so damn hard their necks hurt for straining... and really all that is beneath them is a black hole.
Who cares if you can't work from home at Yahoo! But we should all care that there are qualified, talented men and women willing to work from home (hey corporate world...no overhead!) and around the clock! (multi-timezone coverage! No overtime costs!) we just need more companies building businesses that leverage the people capital available; and maybe not building large campuses that necessitate warm bodies to realise the investment.
And, in the meantime, let's give the smart tech women trying to figure it all out a bit big 'ole break. If we want to truly support women, then we let them speak their mind.