working women

Our Maternity Leave Database is Here!

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We’re excited to announce that we launched our Maternity Leave Resource Center this week. Check it out here!

To our knowledge, it’s the first time you can search, filter and compare companies by whether they pay maternity leave benefits (and for how long). At launch, there were close to 600 companies in the database, across all different industries.

Thanks to the women of Fairygodboss who’ve shared thousands of reviews and tips in order to make this a reality! The database has tremendous momentum and we expect it to grow and evolve based on your feedback. The complexity of maternity leave policies can be difficult to whittle down to a couple stark numbers, but simplicity has great value.

To supplement the information in our database, our members often expand on the specifics within their reviews, including: tenure requirements, the overlap with FMLA and state laws, short-term disability policies (and whether they have to pay into them and receive 100% salary coverage), and whether they are stigmatized or supported during their leave.

Within the reviews that discuss pregnancy and maternity leave experiences, there are both heart-warming and heart-breaking stories — showing both great progress and also large areas for improvement. Let’s keep on sharing and discussing to improve gender equality in the workplace.
For more information on our database, you can read some reactions in the press: http://for.tn/1XhAtiz and http://bit.ly/1GT1Xlc

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com 

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working women

Why We Hate Writing about Marissa Mayer’s Pregnancy

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty

Its the last week of summer and many Americans — including us — are enjoying a bit of a holiday.

While we’re abroad, we are watching the foreign press cover the latest news about Yahoo’s CEO as if it’s simultaneously a business issue, social issue, and celebrity gossip piece all wrapped up in one package. Earlier this week, she announced:

Since my pregnancy has been healthy and uncomplicated and since this is a unique time in Yahoo’s transformation, I plan to approach the pregnancy and delivery as I did with my son three years ago, taking limited time away and working throughout.

When it comes to Mayer’s pregnancy, people are mainly talking about 4 things:

  1. Whether she should or shouldn’t be taking a longer maternity leave since she is a role model for other working women
  2. Whether other women should compare themselves to her
  3. Whether we should be judging or discussing her choices at all, since we might not do the same for a male CEO who is expecting children
  4. Whether it matters in terms of her performance as CEO

In other words, pretty much everything you can imagine that could be said about this topic has probably been said. Which is one of the reasons we dislike writing about her pregnancy. We also hate writing about it because we want to simply tell Mayer “Congratulations,” and leave it at that. After all, that’s the normal and proper thing to say to anyone who’s just announced news of twins.

But Mayer is not just anyone. She’s a public figure, one of the highest paid CEO’s in America, and one of the youngest and only female CEOs in the technology industry. Like it or not, her personal life is in the spotlight because she is a more glamourous subject than the millions of other women in America who have little choice but to take a couple weeks of maternity leave after they give birth. We can only assume she has made a self-actualized and well-informed decision, realizes the attention is a casualty of her position, and takes all the corresponding criticism in stride.

In the end, we decided to write about her pregnancy because it gives us an opportunity to say that we believe many women — and also men — experience biases and social pressures that make things very hard to be a whole person at work. Being a whole person means different things to different people, but pregnancy is special example simply because its physically impossible to hide, and affects so many people in the workforce.

Even in this day and age, women continue to experience discrimination because they are pregnant, and also subsequently when they become mothers. This is often despite the best intentions of companies and colleagues. These problems are persistent because they are rooted in biases (conscious or not) and cultural ideas of what it means to be an “ideal worker” and truly committed to our work.

However, that doesn’t mean progress can’t be made. We started Fairygodboss because we believe many companies and organizations don’t look closely enough at gender equality in their culture. Transparency is an important step in creating change – and Mayer has been nothing if not transparent. She has shared her own choices very openly (i.e. a short maternity leave and her on-site personal nursery) and announced big changes to Yahoo’s policies (i.e. expanded paid parental leave and restrictions on working-from-home). Whatever you may think of her personal and professional choices, at least we’re talking about things that matter to a great number of working women — and that in many cases, really should change.

Fairygodboss is committed to improving the workplace for women by creating transparency. Join us by signing up at Fairygodboss.com and reviewing your employer.

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working women

Should Moms Work at Start-ups?

Yesterday, Fairygodboss received some great advice from a marketing executive.  This woman, who is also a fellow mom, left an agency career for a start-up where things didn’t go very well.  I had a similar conversation with a former colleague last week who told me she thought it’d be much easier to join a start-up once her children were older.  Then, this morning I read this article by a start-up marketing exec who pointed out the reasons mothers shouldn’t be afraid of joining tech start-ups, i.e. start-ups are not necessarily less stable, more demanding, or staffed by un-sympathetic colleagues.

By definition, start-ups are fast-paced environments where individual contribution matters in a closely-felt, intimate way.  I know this very well because Fairygodboss is my start-up and I live this reality every day.  So would I hire a mom?  Yes, in a heartbeat.  Obviously my company’s mission is part of the reason I wouldn’t hesitate.  I believe in women, and my company would benefit from the passion and perspective that a working mom would bring.  But would I promote start-ups in general to working moms?  Here, I’d have to hesitate.

The reason I hesitate is that joining a start-up is about joining a team.  And while teams come in many flavors, there are many start-ups where a working mother would be the first female on the team, the oldest person at the company, and/or the only person to have family obligations.  While this could certainly be true at larger, more established companies, its much more likely to be the case at a start-up because (a) start-ups employ small numbers of people, and (b) those people tend to be (young and single/childless) men.  I’m generalizing, of course, but these generalizations are what scare some women away from start-ups, so it bears noting.  Women at start-ups tell me all the time that they’re afraid of posting reviews on Fairygodboss because their companies are too small, and they’re one of the only women on the team which means they wouldn’t remain truly anonymous.  Thankfully this is not true of all start-ups and some women at startups have great things to say about their employers.

So what would I recommend?  Find out as much as possible about what its really like to work at any particular start-up you’re interested in.  Ask for opinions via word-of-mouth, networking and check out review sites.  If you are interviewing at a start-up, I would not hide my personal life in order to get a job.  (Actually, if you feel like you have to hide a lot of your personal life in order to get an offer, that’s probably a huge red flag.)  If you’re at a start-up where you’re not afraid to talk honestly about the culture, then we’d love for you to share this with other women.  I know there are some great start-ups for working women (and mothers) and those companies deserve to be known.  There’s a lot of negative press these days about women in technology and each one of those articles probably keeps a woman from even trying to enter the industry.  If you’re a woman who is happy working at your start-up, you should shout it out!

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working women

How to Find a “Multidimensional” Role Model

Yesterday, Fast Company profiled Lyft, the car sharing service.  Its a good read for women in STEM looking for role-model profiles or for an example of a tech-startup that has good gender diversity.  According to the article, Lyft’s management ranks (i.e. director level or above) are 47% female, and include roles in engineering and operations.  I’m writing about the article because I thought one of the most practical things I ever read about balancing work and life responsibilities was snuck into the beginning of the piece, in the section about Lyft’s CMO, Kira Wampler.  When Wampler was considering positions at different companies after business school, this is what she did:

“I would ask them, can you give me an example of someone in your organization who is roughly this age, who has roughly this number of kids, who just had a promotion?”

That kind of foresight and personal work-life planning is not necessarily common, but it could be very helpful to women who know that not all employers and companies are equal when it comes to supporting working women with families, or who want to have families one day.  Also, its another way of thinking about “role models” within an organization.  Role models don’t just have certain titles — they also have whole lives that we might want to emulate.

It makes me think that this is the type of information we should try to solicit on Fairygodboss from users.  After all, its the kind of question that isn’t necessarily socially or professionally acceptable to ask during the interview process (though its arguably easier than asking about maternity leave policies) and isn’t disclosed (or even measured) by companies.  What do you think?

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