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Mayer becomes one of the most prominent women executives in Silicon Valley, a place whose geeky culture has been dominated by men for decades. This is Yahoo’s second female CEO, though. Silicon Valley veteran Carol Bartz, 63, spent more than two-and-half years as Yahoo’s CEO before she was fired last September.

Within a few months, Mayer expects to be on a maternity leave. In another interview late Monday, Mayer revealed to Fortune magazine that she is pregnant with a boy. Her due date is Oct. 7. She said she had informed Yahoo’s board about her pregnancy before the 11 directors unanimously voted to hire her.

Other prominent female executives in Silicon Valley include Hewlett-Packard Co. CEO Meg Whitman and another former top Google executive, Sheryl Sandberg, who defected to a rival when she joined Facebook as that company’s chief operating officer in 2008. Other female CEOs running major technology companies include IBM Corp.’s Virginia “Ginni” Rometty and Xerox Corp.’s Ursula Burns.

Yahoo picked Mayer over an internal candidate, Ross Levinsohn, who had been widely considered to be the front-runner for the job after stepping in to fill a void created two months ago when the company dumped Scott Thompson as CEO amid a flap over misinformation on his official biography.

Thompson’s bio inaccurately said he had college degree in computer science _ an accomplishment that Mayer can rightfully list on her resume. She earned a master’s in computer science at Stanford University, the same school where the co-founders from both Google and Yahoo honed their engineering skills.

This marks the second time that Yahoo has snubbed Levinsohn, 48, who previously had been best known for overseeing the Internet operations for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.

Levinsohn had been vying for the CEO job after Bartz’s firing, only to be passed over when Yahoo lured Thompson away from eBay Inc.

Mayer told the AP that she wasn’t looking to leave Google Inc. when Yahoo first contacted her June 18 about the job.

Her hiring threatens to alienate Levinsohn at a time when he has been steering Yahoo’s recent emphasis on producing more original content and highlighting material provided by other media outlets in an effort to persuade its website’s 700 million monthly visitors to stick around longer. Recent partnerships include those with ABC News and the financial news channel CNBC.

Marissa’s first order of business should be convincing Levinsohn to stay,” Gartner’s Weiner said. “If he leaves, there will be an exodus” among the Yahoo employees working on the content for the company’s website.

Mayer declined to comment on any discussions she might have planned with Levinsohn.

Even if Levinsohn and his allies leave, Yahoo should still benefit from the connections and reputation that Mayer built during her years at Google, predicted J.P. Morgan analyst Doug Anmuth.

Mayer may “be able to attract more high quality engineering talent to Yahoo, which we think is needed after several years of strategic and leadership flux,” Anmuth wrote in a research note late Monday. Yahoo decided to lay off about 2,000 employees, or about 14 percent of its workforce, in April while Thompson was still CEO.

Anmuth also expects Mayer to bring in new managers as she shapes her team. Mayer will be greeted by at least one familiar face on Yahoo’s senior management team. While serving as Yahoo’s interim CEO, Levinsohn last month lured away another Google executive, Michael Barrett, to be Yahoo’s chief revenue officer.

The terms of Mayer’s contract have not been spelled out yet. Mayer is already wealthy from stock options that she got before Google went public in 2004.

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