Op-Ed: Is Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s Vogue Shoot Too Sexy for Silicon Valley?

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer‘s recent Vogue photo-shoot has ignited a firestorm of controversy in the Internet and among the business community.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer‘s recent Vogue photo-shoot has ignited a firestorm of controversy in the Internet and among the business community. TIME magazine insists, ‘Marissa Mayer’s Ambition Problem’ has gotten the best of her, posing the question: “Is it feminist for a powerful woman to pose for a fashion magazine? Is it feminist for a CEO to care about how she looks?”

In Jacob Weisberg’s 3,000-word Vogue profile entitled ‘Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer: Hail to the Chief’ Mayer is sprawled across a deck chair, in what some deem “a suggestive pose” holding a tablet. Weisberg writes, “As she works to reverse the fortunes of a failing Silicon Valley giant, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer has fueled a national debate about the office life, motherhood, and what it takes to be the CEO of the moment.”


Mayer is the President and CEO of Yahoo!. Previously, a long-time executive and key spokesperson for Google. In 2012, she ranked number 14 on Fortune magazine’s list of America’s most powerful businesswomen. And today Mayer is coined “CEO gone wild,” by CNN due to her “controversial” move to grace the pages Vogue. Travesty? I think not.


PR Daily reports, “The glamour-shot photo of Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer in the September issue of Vogue is tame by fashion-magazine standards, but the fact that a huge company’s chief exec is lying on a deck chair in a form-fitting dress has divided the business community.”

“An online CNBC poll asking whether Mayer’s photo was appropriate for a CEO got more than 3,700 responses, 60 percent of which said it was fine, 40 percent of which said it was not OK. Detractors say it reflects a double standard.”

But how far have we come as a society over the years as it pertains to women, power and appeal? In a 2005 study on women in the workplace findings suggested, “people [were] likely to feel negatively toward a provocatively dressed businesswoman in a position of power. But as long as she’s the secretary, it seems most people won’t mind,” according to ABC News.

“The study, which [appeared in an] issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly, focused on how women who emphasized ‘sexiness’ were evaluated within high status work roles. Participants in the study viewed videotapes of women who were deemed to be equally attractive and then dressed both conservatively and provocatively. The results showed that a provocatively dressed women in a managerial role evoked hostile emotions and were deemed less intelligent. But when study participants were told that the woman was a receptionist, there were no negative emotions or negative perceptions of the woman’s competence.”

If you’re a professional business woman occupying the corner office of your very own company should your fashion sensibility lean toward Hillary Clinton in lieu of a red carpet look?

Mayer’s unequivocal statement in Vogue’s September issue seems clear, “Approval neither desired, or required.”

What do you think about Mayer’s recent Vogue shoot? Epic business fail or wild success?

Read the full Vogue article here.


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