Monday, August 25, 2014

The CEO expecting her fifth child

Image via Glamour

Susan Wojcicki has been called the most important person in advertising, named the 12th most powerful woman on the Forbes 100, and is one of just six female CEOs of the top 100 tech companies in the US.

She's running the world's largest video site, a business reportedly worth $5.6 billion, while juggling motherhood with a golden rule to be home by 6pm to join her school-aged children for dinner. Sounds like she's already pretty busy.

Well, the recently appointed CEO of Youtube announced to tech news site Re/Code that she is pregnant with her fifth child, due later this year.

Still, she's seems more than ready to manage it all. "I'm going to do my best to try and balance it, and come up with something that I think works for both my family and office," she said when asked if she would take time off.

"I think it's important to have a balance. It's important for the family and the baby to have time. And on the other hand, I have a lot of things happening at YouTube, and I love working here."

Wojcicki appears to have found balance by inextricably linking motherhood with her work. In an interview with FastCompany earlier this year she said she associates each of her children with Google milestones.

"I joined Google when I was pregnant, so my oldest I've associated with Google. Then I worked with the team and together we created AdSense after I came back from maternity leave (with my second). My third one, I associate with YouTube. The last one is DoubleClick," she said.

In 1998 she left her role at Intel to join Google as it's sixteenth employee while she was four months pregnant -- not only making the giant career leap, she also housed the company in her garage during the early days. Before taking the role of CEO at YouTube in February, Wojcicki was senior vice president of Google's advertising and analytics products.

She says she's been called the "mum of Google" due to the fact she way nurturing the company in its early days, and became the first of its employees to have a baby. She also designed Google's progressive, in-house daycare centre.

Wojcicki recently spoke about making that bold career move, despite also being pregnant at the time.

It "was a bit of a leap, but sometimes you have to do the right thing for you right now," Wojcicki said in an interview with Glamour in May.

And Wojcicki's advice for any working women thinking of starting a family? "Don't forget that it gets easier! Having a child is a big life change, but the really hectic period is relatively short," she says. "You can get through it."

By: Jordi Roth 
First published: 15th August 2014

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Talented Women: Please Do NOT Quit

The following is an excerpt from Sramana Mitra's book, Feminine Feminism. If you are questioning whether to stay in the workforce or not this blog might help with the decision. 

Five years ago, a good friend of mine hanged herself.

I had coffee with her the day before.

She was married to a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur who ran a couple of major companies and had a brilliant career. She did not work. But on the surface, they had everything.

I knew both of them well. It was a deeply disturbing incident that shook us all up.

Five years have passed. I have observed society around us closely. And today, I am writing this with a certain amount of lingering sadness.

One of the greatest defeats of the feminist movement in America has been the phenomenon that women in the thirties are quitting the workforce in large numbers. Many of them are highly educated, and just as they acquire sufficient experience to take on more substantial roles, the body clock sets off an alarm.

Time to have babies.

Women are programmed to want to have children. There is no point in denying or defying biology. Whatever it is that the feminists want women to do, asking them not to have children isn’t something that will gain any traction.

And if you have children, those children need to be raised.

Unlike societies like India where the extended family is deeply integrated into the fabric of society, and where domestic help is affordable and abundant, Western societies tend to consist of more nuclear families. Help is limited. Childcare is expensive.

Faced with a complex juggling challenge, women, often, abandon their professional lives and become full-time mothers. Paying for childcare, feeling guilty about not being there for the children, peer pressure from other women who are full-time moms – all eventually catch up with them. They quit their jobs in search of a less stressful existence.

In some cases, and this situation is particularly prevalent in places like Silicon Valley and Wall Street where wealth flows abundantly, women quit because there is no real pressure to earn money. The husband earns enough. The family can afford childcare, but that doesn’t put a stop to the hostile glares from other full-time moms. Even supposedly high-powered women like Sheryl Sandberg have been known to succumb to this kind of peer pressure and feel guilty. Once again, many women quit in response.

Also, some families do not believe in outsourced childcare. Especially, immigrant families who want to impart the culture of another country into the children, have to invest time and energy in doing so, personally. Children of Indian or French parents raised by Mexican nannies are subject to tremendous clashes of culture, not to mention language development challenges. Add to that the notion of cross-cultural families where there are already two different cultures to navigate. If the nanny introduces a third culture, kids can get utterly confused.

Then there is the option of a stay-at-home dad, of course. However, a large percentage of women are not drawn to the dynamic of a male partner not working. This is a bias that both nature and society have developed from the stone ages. Men are supposed to hunt. Now, in the twenty first century, it is okay for women to hunt, but my observation is that men who just gather do not turn on most women.

It is important to be turned on by your mate.

In short, raising children while maintaining a serious career is and will continue to be complex for women, forever. The temptation to quit will always beckon.

What happens if you do?

My friend Renee Fields worked in Wall Street. In her thirties, she married and supported the dreams of a man who has since become a successful Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Now in her fifties, Renee has raised four children, and along the way, gave up her professional career. She says that she has regretted giving up her career and staying at home, driving the kids around all day long to their schools and activities, feeling intellectually starved.

By the time her husband comes home from an exhausting day at work, Renee is longing for adult company, stimulation, and engagement. But her husband wants to chill.

The most telling observation from Renee’s experience is the identity crisis that she has experienced. “From a Wall Street trading desk to this domestic swirl has been mind-numbing,” she says. While most women are unwilling to admit to their regrets, Renee speaks of them candidly: “Going to lunch with other bored housewives is just not interesting to me.”

It offers a window into the large-scale identity crisis that a generation of women is going through. They have made the choice to quit. They have raised children. In the process, they have lost one of the most fundamental secrets of human happiness: the sense-of-self.

My friend who killed herself had no sense-of-self left.

She did not do anything with her talents. She had raised two great kids.

Once they left, she had no identity of her own.

A few months ago, I met Jana Francis, founder and CEO of online daily deals site Her story is one that I find both inspiring and instructional to those women who have, perhaps, already made the choice of quitting, or are contemplating doing so.

The motivation for came to Jana Francis right after she had a daughter, her third child, when she had to head back to work at the end of her maternity leave. She realized she was a smart, capable woman who could work from home. Once she started thinking along those lines, the ideas started to flow.

Jana was always the one you could count on for online shopping deals – her friends called her the dotcom princess. But when it came to online shopping in the baby space, she was disappointed. There was no website that would tell you the story of the product, why you would want it, what problem it would solve for you, and offer great deals. She developed a burning desire to create a new kind of website that would launch new deals every day – a steep 40% to 80% discount on premium baby products.

With a full-time career and three kids, one of which was a newborn, Jana took 18 months to go from concept to creation. She partnered with Rett Clevenger who at that time was an online media manager for a large e-commerce site, to launch in April 2008. was the first site to be launched and as the business became profitable, more sites were launched –,, and

The revenue in 2012 was $16.4 million.

Jana now has over 70 full-time employees, most of them based out of Salt Lake City, Utah. Her Webmaster was a former colleague who had left the company after her maternity leave. About 70% of her employees are women and about 25% of them have had a baby in the past two years.

Being a completely bootstrapped company, cannot offer its team the best possible pay. But for most of them the flexibility the company provides means a lot. Most of the customer service staff is able to work from home for 30 hours a week.

Jana says, “For me it is very rewarding to know that the situation I dreamed of for myself is being provided for so many moms in Utah who would not have a job if they were not working here.”

What I like about Jana’s story is that she has been able to have a flexible, but fully engaging career herself by moving over to the entrepreneurship side. Additionally, she has leveraged her understanding of women’s need for flexibility and desire to work, and created a uniquely appealing culture in her company that is allowing many other women to continue working, while raising children.

So my suggestion to all you talented women facing the same dilemma: Do not quit. Become an entrepreneur. Do not risk losing your sense-of-self.

Work is not just for livelihood. It is as much a source of fundamental life force.

*Excerpt from Feminine Feminism by Sramana Mitra

By: Sramana Mitra
Originally published: November 15th 2013

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

How to have flexibility without career compromise

A flexible work environment may be one of the most coveted employee engagement tools and although the workplace is responding to a changing labour force, part-time work arrangements are still considered a dead-end option for mothers returning to the workforce. However that is not the case. Whether one is juggling a freelance portfolio, a business on the side, full time studies, a second career in parallel or a number of professional reasons, it is now possible to be ambitious, career-minded and choose to work part-time. Below are some tips to ensure that your career is not compromised when working part-time:

Be flexible yourself

If an executive meeting is scheduled on the second Tuesday of every month, try and accommodate this rather than expecting a regular meeting to adapt to your schedule. There are times when this genuinely cannot happen, but it is easier to expect flexibility when you can be flexible around business requirements. When determining the days you can be physically present in the office take into account major meetings and planning events.

Stop advertising

If you are often communicating that you are not here on Fridays then you may be inadvertently distancing yourself from the business. It is important to ensure that the business feels that you are fully integrated; by highlighting your separation this may result in management calling into question your commitment. It is important to inform colleagues and clients of your availability rather than your unavailability.


Repeat after me: “I will not say that I only work part-time”. Stating that you ‘only’ work part-time devalues your role within the organisation both to others and to yourself; it makes it a little easier to be overlooked when it comes to succession planning as the perception is that you ‘only’ work a fraction of what you could. Studies have shown that employees working flexible hours offer the best value to employers as they waste less time than full-time colleagues (11% versus 14.5%)*. By saying ‘only’ you may be perpetuating the productivity myth of part-time work, when in actual fact, the opposite has been demonstrated.


Set up systems to ensure you can easily get on top of things when you are back in the office whether it is a whiteboard, a communication book, a filtering email system or a weekly staff meeting. This will allow you to ensure that nothing has slipped, all approvals have been processed, client obligations have been met and your time is spent wisely, rather than playing catch-up.

Good morning 

When you are in the office, make sure you make eye contact with colleagues and greet them. This may sound like a curious point to end with, but as a part-time employee it is easy to fall into the trap of ‘go-go-go’ and become quite insular. And that is all well and good, but it is imperative that you establish and maintain rapport with the wider business. Your work can and will speak volumes, but sometimes a friendly smile will be the first step in forging key relations in an office.

Your career options need not be limited by the choice to work part-time and this is becoming increasingly evident as employers see the benefits of offering flexible working arrangements across a broad range of industries. Good luck and happy juggling!

* Untapped Opportunity – Ernst & Young – July 2013

By: Anna Sarelas (People Manager at Veolia Australia and New Zealand)
First published: 6th August 2014
Source: HC Online 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Women's Economy

We all know that the lives of women have changed significantly over the last few decades. Overall we are working more than ever, having children later, and achieving greater levels of financial independence than ever before.

The life of a woman in her twenties or thirties today looks very different to her mothers, and certainly her grandmothers.

Women now make up nearly half of the Australian workforce (45.9%) and are the primary breadwinner in almost a quarter of householders.

More women than men are now attaining a bachelor’s degree and more women than men own their own homes (61% of women compared to 58% of men).

The change in the lives and role of women has clearly been profound, with significant implications for not just women, but business and the economy.

A study by Goldman Sachs, Australia’s Hidden Resource: The Economic Case for Increasing Female Participation, found that the rise in the female employment over the last few decades has boosted economic activity by 22%.

And yet some things really haven’t changed for women.

On average women earn 17.5% less than men – a gap that has trended gradually upward over the last 10 years.

Women continue to perform the majority of unpaid work, with an OECD study recently finding that Australia women do on average 311 minutes per day of unpaid work compared to 172 minutes for men.

Amongst this mixed picture of women’s statistics, it is clear is that women have experienced significant and positive changes in many aspects of life. 

But as long as we continue to work for less, perform the majority of unpaid work, and juggle the many competing pressures in our lives there is an ongoing need for discussion and change.

True equality is still beyond the reach of many women. Ensuring all women share in the benefits of greater opportunities for work, education, and financial independence, is a challenge for all of us.

SwitchedOn Women is a chance to expand the discussion we have been having for years about equality, to include many more women and men.

It is also an opportunity to find new ways to address the persistent challenges we face, like improving the financial security of women, helping women manage their family budgets, while also acknowledging the economic force that women are and will increasingly be in the future.

Click on the image below for a look at the full SwitchedOn Women's infograph - it has some revelatory and very interesting statistics. 

By: Amanda Robbins, Adviser to SwitchedOn Women and Director of Equity Economics
First published: 16th July 2014