At Business Insider, Nicholas Carlson has written an exhaustively researched, 22,000-word unauthorized biography of Marissa Mayer, the longtime Google executive and current Yahoo! CEO. Pretty but not warm, highly capable but not modest, private and hyper-social simultaneously, Mayer for many people simply Does Not Compute as a model of either corporate success or contemporary femininity ("There is no one else in the world like Marissa Mayer," writes Carlson). Carlson's piece itself is even-handed, following corporate machinations more than gender trouble specifically, but inevitably it evinces the sexism that Mayer's been negotiating for decades. Here are 9 examples:
Now 38 years old, she is a wife, a mother, an engineer, and the CEO of a 30-billion-dollar company.
Mayer calls herself a geek, but she doesn't look the part. With her blonde hair, blue eyes, and glamourous style, she has Hollywood-actress good looks.
Many of the directors wondered whether Mayer was actually capable of leading a large public corporation. They asked questions like: Had she ever managed a balance sheet?
“But in a place where there are personal feelings involved, if you can’t win the debate regardless of how hard you try, because she will out-talk you, that’s a challenging situation."
"People take potshots at her because she was very young and successful."
Her new colleagues looked to see if she was showing. They wondered how in the world she would manage a baby and the huge job ahead of her.
They expected to sit across from the woman they’d read about in so many fluffy profiles and had seen on TV or on stage at conferences — someone who was charismatic and warm; personal.
"There wasn't any kind of commiseration or any kind of bear hug. There wasn't even a question of 'Are you in or are you out?' It was: 'I assume you're in. Let me know otherwise.' There was no time for short conversation or human emotion."
Just as some of her Stanford study mates mistook her shyness for being "stuck up," some of her new Yahoo colleagues took her all-business attitude as being "demeaning."
To be clear, this is all mostly from Carlson's sources and not the writer himself, but isn't it hard to imagine this specific, always-invisibly-referencing-a-very-old-norm tone in a profile of a man? In contrast, here's one line that still applies across the board:
As for fighting for the working conditions of women, Mayer says that she is not a "feminist." She says she is "blind to gender."
And here is a bonus detail, just because:
Mayer once snuck into her AP Lit teacher's classroom to decorate it like a jungle because she was so inspired by the teacher's lesson on "Heart of Darkness."