“People — men and women both — are more likely to put a woman or minority candidate into a top position when the company is distressed.”
— Eric Ries, author of “The Lean Startup,” in a New York Magazine article that lists Marissa Mayer‘s accomplishments — Stanford graduate, first female engineer at Google and once one of its shining stars, master of projecting an image of beauty and brains — but which contends that troubled Yahoo probably chose Mayer as CEO as a “gimmick,” that her gender helped her win the job. Judging from the reaction in July (see GMSV’s Storify), the CEO-churner of an Internet giant did manage to surprise the tech world with Mayer’s appointment. But no one had seen the pick coming, plus Yahoo lured a high-profile Googler. Still, Mayer’s gender continues to be front and center because she gave birth to her first child Sept. 30 and has vowed to return quickly from and work through maternity leave. (Cue all the back-and-forth about motherhood and work-and-life balance. We’re not saying it’s not important to talk about it, but as the magazine article points out: “While American women may wish to see themselves, their maternal joys, and their workplace dilemmas reflected in Mayer, it is not a sensible comparison for most.”) AllThingsD says there could be Mayer sightings in Sunnyvale as early as this week.