Is Marissa Mayer Only Keeping Her Job Because She's Pregnant?

Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images.
An NYU professor went straight for the jugular on Wednesday when he argued Marissa Mayer is the most overpaid CEO in history and Yahoo needs to be euthanized (or, you know, bought out by Microsoft). Scott Galloway, who is also a Bloomberg TV contributing editor, was speaking to Bloomberg Surveillance host Tom Keene about the future of the 21-year-old tech company. Galloway's heated comments turned straight-up sexist, though, when he asserted that the only reason that Mayer is keeping her job is because she's pregnant.

"I don't think any board in America right now in technology that's as visible as Yahoo wants to be seen as not leaning in," Galloway declared, making a reference to Sheryl Sandberg's movement. "She got a reprieve from death row because she's pregnant with twins."

It's only natural that Mayer, as CEO of an S&P 500 company, would be under scrutiny — especially as Yahoo stock dropped this week when the company hit a snag in the effort to spin off the Chinese e-commerce site Alibaba. But was it necessary to bring Mayer's pregnancy into the conversation? The other men on the show (there were no women to weigh in) expressed shock at Galloway's statement, and everyone agreed that the professor's inbox would be filled with hate mail — but no one stepped up to defend Mayer's tenure.

Indeed, Mayer was the 14th highest paid CEO in 2014 — and the only woman in the top 25. Still, her $42 million salary pales in comparison to that of Discovery Communication's (male) CEO, who makes $156 million, nearly 2,000 times the salary of his average employee. When Mayer took over Yahoo in 2012, the company had gone through six CEOs in five years. Leading — and improving — the aging tech behemoth has been no small task, and Mayer has faced all kinds of backlash along the way for nearly every decision she's made, whether business-related or of a personal nature.

Every time a female executive faces any kind scrutiny, people cry sexism. (Just look at all the think pieces that followed Mayer's decision to not take the full maternity leave that Yahoo offers.) But it seems impossible to imagine a world in which Galloway — a professor at one of the top business schools in the U.S. — would have felt comfortable making such an unnecessary and outrageous comment about a male CEO. And that might be the most frustrating part of all of this.

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