We fight a battle we can't win: Women entrepreneurs on Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

One can't help but wonder, is the company being viewed in a different light just because there is a woman at the driving seat?


The tech industry is buzzing with talk about Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and how the once successful company, headed on a downward spiral, eventually to be put up for sale. Another point which is being discussed mostly is her massive $55 million severance package if she is terminated due to 'change of control' after a possible buyout. An ex-Google employee, Mayer was roped in specifically to help the company bounce back from a lean period but unfortunately for them, things just went out of control.

One can't help but wonder, is the company being viewed in a different light just because there is a woman at the driving seat? (No intention to spark off a series of 'women drivers' jokes). Tech2 talked to some women entrepreneurs who have made it in this so-called 'man's world'. Sairee Chahal, Founder and CEO of SHEROES - which incidentally helps women chart out their careers, feels that what is happening with Yahoo can happen with any internet business. Sakshi Vij, Founder and CEO of Myles, shares the same sentiment. "I believe that organisations today, especially the new age business firms don't particularly consider women to be incapable of running a business on their own. In times of business challenges though, being a woman is an easy and unfortunate excuse that is often used. In my understanding, the issues that lead to business challenges are the same for men as well as women and they are mostly related to strategy than gender of the business owner," says Vij.

(Also read: Marissa Mayer offered $55 million to leave? Yahoo CEO’s journey, so far)

Mehaa Seth Marwah, co-founder at Modspace.in feels that ‘women running a business’ becomes an easy thing to blame. "Women are often underestimated for being incapable of running any type of business or company on their own. When, however, they are usually multi-tasking and wearing many more different hats than their male counterparts," adds Marwah.

Marissa Mayer infamously returned to work just two weeks after her delivery, sparking off debates about carelessness towards the well-being of her child and earning her appreciation for being dedicated to her work at the same time. Women at any level in the corporate ladder often end up getting judged for any decision they make."I feel that whether we question or applaud a woman trying to make a difference in the business world, we are ultimately acknowledging the need to make changes," says Vij addressing the underlying issue. "The work culture and dynamics is therefore gradually changing owing to these discussions. With the likes of Indra Nooyi and Chanda Kochhar taking the lead, woman today are an integral part of the economic health of organizations and nations at large," adds Vij.

Marwah calls it a battle that women just cannot win. "It’s a lose-lose situation. If they choose to work-then they are judged for neglecting their family life. If they choose to stay home, they are perceived as frivolous and not doing anything to contribute to their home. At this point, there is so much criticism on either choice a woman makes that it is best that she just does what she wants to the best of her ability," she reasons. Chahal offers her advice on this, "Any step or decision you make might invite judgment – but the idea is to go ahead and just do what your heart says," she says.

When we asked these three women whether they have ever felt they were perceived differently while setting up their business or even in day-to-day matter, they all reply they were lucky enough never to face any bias or preferential treatment. Marwah, however, shares that being a woman in work, especially in India - some people she knew perceived her time at work as a simple pastime than a career or job. "I had to make it clear that this is not a pastime - I have taken up a responsibility, which I chose and am very happy that I have this," said Marwah signing off on an empowering note.


Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.