Yahoo just announced the appointment of a pregnant CEO - 37-year old Marissa Mayer (a former Google engineer) - who joins the ranks of about 20 female CEOs in the Fortune 500.
This means that child bearing is not a factor in the search for leaders in the workplace!
But is this really true?
Back in 1976, women business school graduates in India were a rare breed. There were no roadmaps or signposts to show you the way. You worked with a lot of self belief and learnt as you went along. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Soon, you realized it was less about being a woman and more about being perceived as a terrific contributor and team player.
Establishing this in a man’s world had its challenges ...beating the odds was what it was all about without playing poker!
In an interview, Shabana Azmi was asked what being a woman meant to her. She replied, being a woman was a part of her identity. She was a woman first, a Muslim next, and then an Indian.
I was 12 at that time. I remember feeling a little disoriented by her reply. All the ideals that I took comfort in were uprooted within seconds by a woman whom I admired, leaving me momentarily mistrustful of either.
Had I been asked that question I'd have answered unhesitatingly:
”I’m an individual, a human being...why should being a woman affect my identity?”