Stop Making Marissa Mayer Women's Tech Idol
I'm fairly certain you won't catch a male chief executive officer caught pictured upside-down in a slinky pose on a chaise lounge. (If you do, please send pics.)
The premise of the Vogue article on Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer isn't new: Mayer is not your average CEO. She's been at the center of the debate on women in the workforce, mothers in the office and women in technology. She's gotten heat for putting a nursery in the CEO's office and telling employees they couldn't work from home. She's also making waves to revitalize Yahoo, recently acquiring the social blogging website Tumblr.
Online, the Vogue article breaks every few paragraphs to link to stories including "What would Marissa Mayer wear?" and "Pregnant in Prada." Fair enough. Vogue is a fashion magazine; Mayer is known for embracing glamour.
Vogue isn't the first publication to realize that Mayer photographs well. Take a tour of the Web and you'll find her blonde hair and blue eyes the stock image attached to stories about gender, balancing work and home and the changing landscape of female CEOs. Mayer is a character worthy of Vogue's 3,000-word profile. But guys, she is just one woman. Can we stop making her the trope for "woman in tech?"
As a measure of just how far we have to go on that front, Wired was criticized yesterday for the absence of women on its 101 Signals list of top writers and thinkers on the Internet. Only four were women.
We need strong women in the spotlight leading in technology. More important, we need women who are not in the spotlight, coding and innovating and breaking barriers, glass or otherwise. Mayer may be an idol, but she's also an outlier. And she's not going to break too many barriers on that chaise lounge.
(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)