working women

12 Fairygodboss Employer Moments in 2015

As we look back on 2015, we wanted to celebrate the good work that employers have done to help support women in the workplace. These #fairygodboss employers really impressed us!

pabloLyftFast Company

  1. In January, Lyft makes 2 new senior-level female hires which makes its executive team ~50/50 balanced in terms of gender. The company also implements a 3-month paid maternity leave policy.pabloSF
  2. In April, led by CEO, Marc Benioff, Salesforce announces a compensation audit to make sure men and women at the company are paid equally and fairly for their work. This results in a $3 million adjustment to female employees over the year.pablointel
    Mercury News 
  3. In June, Intel launches $125 million fund to invest in businesses led by women and underrepresented minorities.pabloGOOG
  4. By July, Google and other tech companies following its example saw the one year anniversary of an initiative to release employee  diversity data. While the industry revealed modest progress in 2015, many pledged to try harder and we are encouraged by these companies’ continued commitment to transparency.pabloNetflix
    Washington Post 
  5. In August, Netflix announces an unlimited parental leave policy for full-time salaried employees, and later extends paid maternity leave to its hourly employees.pabloAdobe
  6. Adobe doubles its paid maternity leave to 26 weeks and increases paternity and adoptive leave to 16 weeks in August.pabloMSFT
    Business Insider 
  7. In the same month, Microsoft extends parental leave policies so new moms can take a total of 20 weeks of paid time off.WSJ
  8. In September, everyone talks about McKinsey’s study of what ~30,000 employees at 118 companies say about the state of gender equality in the workforce. There findings are sobering, but what isn’t measured is unlikely to change.pabloHilton
    Washington Post 
  9. In the same month, Hilton Worldwide announces industry-leading maternity leave benefits for the hospitality industry. Employees at corporate offices and managed hotels with a minimum of 1 year of service will receive 10 weeks of fully paid leave.pabloGates
    Business Insider 
  10. In October, the Gates Foundation expended its paid parental and maternity leave to one full year of leave for new and adoptive parents.pabloTrudeua
  11. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau names the country’s first 50/50 gender-balanced cabinet because “its 2015″ in November.pabloaccenture
    Huffington Post 
  12. Accenture amplifies the discussion of gender equality in partnership with the Huffington Post with stories from 130,000 of its women to highlight challenges, inspire others, and provide advice  to others.We believe stories and voices matter at Fairygodboss, and we hope to keep hearing from employers and women in 2016!

    Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 

working women

Sexism in Hollywood Matters to Women Everywhere

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Shonda Rhimes, as photographed by Art Streiber for the New York Times

Over the weekend, we were fascinated to see how gender equality looks — and feels — in an industry that isn’t well-represented (yet!) in our database: Hollywood.

Maureen Dowd, of the New York Times, wrote a long piece based on interviews with more than 100 men and women working in entertainment about why women are so under-represented in the film industry:

  • Only 30.2% of speaking or named characters in the top 100 grossing fictional films were women
  • 1.9% of the directors of the top 100 grossing films were directed by women in 2013 and 2014
  • Only three movies released by the 6 major studies had a female director last year
  • 95% of cinematographers, 89% of screenwriters, 82% of editors, 81% of executive producers and 77% of producers were men in 2014

As Dowd points out, these stats look even worse than the dismal numbers of women in the C-suite, Silicon Valley, or at the highest levels of U.S. government.

While it might be tempting to dismiss this issue as irrelevant to the vast majority of working class women, we think that’s the wrong way to look at the problem.

We believe that gender inequality is relevant for all women, wherever it lives. But the media is a special and important case simply because the industry has immense influence and touches us all — even for those of us who consume relatively little of it.

We can’t avoid the images, the story-lines, the cliches and the stereotypes regardless of how little entertainment content we consume. Our children — boys and girls — soak up up these ideas. And the older they get, the more they  believe in the story lines generated by a surprisingly homogenous group of people.

The problem is chicken-and-egg. How can we collectively make progress on our unconscious biases about gender roles and capabilities if they keep being reinforced? If Hollywood keeps producing stories where surgeons, CEOs, Presidents, executives, firemen, superheroes, and movie directors are men — and do all the leading, controlling, saving, and commanding — it becomes that much harder for the next generation of women to relate to those roles and life paths.

Of course we can make “choices” to consume different content. But that’s only realistic up to a point. That’s why we stand by the efforts by Dowd, the Geena Davis Institute and these brave, individual women who have spoken out (sometimes hilariously succinctly) — at some risk to their own careers and reputations — to spread awareness of sexism in Hollywood.

Thank you for telling your stories — it matters to women everywhere.

Fairygodboss is committed to helping women in the workplace. 


working women

Ellen Pao on Meritocracy

Photo credit: dcJohn / / CC BY

Photo credit: dcJohn / / CC BY

Lately we have been thinking about the discrepancy we see between younger women starting their careers, and women with several more years of work experience under their belts.

It’s a generalization, of course, but many of the youngest, most ambitious women we hear from are often least likely to believe that gender equality is an issue in the workplace. Take Elizabeth*, a Harvard Business School student in her late-20’s. She’s worked in a difficult, male-dominated environment prior to business school and believes her gender is irrelevant. Elizabeth admits things might look different one day when she has children, but at the moment, she sees no difference between herself and male counterparts. (*Elizabeth’s name has been changed to protect her identity.)

When we speak to the youngest women in the work-force, we often hear things like “I don’t feel like there is any difference between me and my male counterparts. I can do anything they can do.” A Pew survey shows that 41% of millennial women think that being a working parent does not make having a career more difficult and 25% think no further work needs to be done in improve gender equality in the workplace.

Anecdotally, we hear these beliefs in our conversations. We also notice this viewpoint seems to shift — almost imperceptibly at first — as careers progress.

Ellen Pao describes this transformation in an essay she wrote for today’s issue of Lenny. Much like Elizabeth, she says: “I grew up believing the world is a meritocracy. It’s how I was raised, and it made sense for a long time.”

This belief sustained me, mostly, through my early 20s. That was 20 years ago, when I saw my prospects as awesome and full of possibilities. I was fresh out of Harvard Law School, and my classmates and I thought we could do anything we set our minds to do. I believed in the system, because it seemed to work, and frankly it was just so easy to believe

After a few scrapes, bruises, hard work, compromises and work-arounds, things started to look different:

But after a while, we were all treading water, just trying to get by as our ranks thinned and progress got harder. We were wondering, Is it just me? Am I really too ambitious while being too quiet while being too aggressive while being unlikable? Are my elbows too sharp? Am I not promoting myself enough? Am I not funny enough? Am I not working hard enough? Do I belong? Eventually, there comes a point where you can’t just rally and explain away all the behavior as creepy exceptions or pin the blame on yourself. And the glimmers of achievement are too few and far between. You see patterns, systemic problems, and it doesn’t matter where you are or what industry you pursue.

This is similar to the comments by former Yahoo President Sue Decker in her career reflections on the same topic:

I, and most women I know, have been a party to at least some sexist or discriminatory behavior in the workplace…At the same time, the men who may be promulgating it are often very unaware of the slights, and did not intend the outcome. And for the women, it happens in incremental steps that often seem so small in isolation that any individual act seems silly to complain about. So we move on. But in aggregate, and with the perspective of hindsight, they are real.”

While this evolution in perspective may be far from universal, it certainly does seem to happen often. There may be a lesson (or two) to draw from that journey. Pao, herself, ultimately draws the hopeful conclusion that things are improving.

While the world may not be a pure meritocracy, neither is it a horrible place everywhere. In our community, for example, there are some very happy women satisfied with their work, career achievements, and ability to balance their personal lives. We’re obsessed with what they share in common, and are currently studying what they say. Stay tuned!

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

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: and

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

working women

The History of International #Womensday

Happy International Women’s Day!

Despite its name and the fact that it has become a generic celebration of all women and their accomplishments, the history of this day is actually quite American, and originally about female workers.  Celebrated every year on March 8, International Women’s Day was first observed in New York and organized by the Socialist Party of America to commemorate a 1908 strike by the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union (ILGWU).

The ILGWU was one of the first unions in America to have a predominantly female membership.  Founded in 1900 in New York, the union primarily represented immigrants (hence the “international” in its name) and women, two groups of people that other contemporary labor unions did not believe could be organized.  These migrant women worked primarily in New York’s garment industry, in appalling conditions.  The strike was a violent one, and lasted 14 weeks, involving at least 20,000 workers.  However, it was not just poor, migrant women who were involved.  Wealthy and prominent women in New York, including Frances Perkins, Anne Morgan and Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, among others also supported the cause to improve the garment workers’ working conditions (earning the derisive label “the mink brigade“).

Women have come a long way since those days.  A combination of almost too many things to list, ranging from labor activism, the right to vote, legislation, and cultural norms to educational gains, marketplace and economic realities have evolved to improve the plight of working women.  But there’s more room to go.  The hardest things to change are the ones that cannot be seen.  While there’s still much room to go in the American policy arena, private companies also have their role to play.  We hope Fairygodboss brings transparency to the progress that’s still-in-the making on this International Women’s Day and for the many still to come.

working women

If Men Are Geniuses, How Do Women Compete?

A father and son are driving and have a serious car accident.  The father is killed instantaneously.  The son is in critical condition and he is rushed to the hospital.  In the ER room, the attending surgeon looks down at the patient and says, “I can’t operate on him, for he is my son.”

How can this be?

Whether you are stumped or found this to be an easy brain-teaser, the point of this riddle is that we have engrained notions of who does what in society (i.e. men are surgeons whereas women are presumably nurses).  These notions are based on our experiences, and in reality, a surgeon is more likely to be male than female.  In other words, our gender biases can be innocent and completely “reasonable” from a probability point of view.

In a recent study sponsored by the New York organization, the 92nd Street Y, 90% of Americans think that geniuses tend to be male.  Both men (93%) and women (87%) believe this.  Again, this belief is understandable.  Historically, men had more opportunities than women, including access to education and the right to perform certain occupations.  And we are taught about historical figures of genius from an early age.  Just think about Albert Einstein, Lord Byron, or Amadeus Mozart, for example.

The problem with the genius “gender gap” is that the intelligence gender bias may become self-fulfilling.  According to one of the organizers of the 92nd Y’s Genius Festival, the implications are bad from a female confidence point of view.  She says:

“If you don’t think you’re capable of something, it makes it a lot less likely that you will reach for it,”

Moreover, even if you’re a woman who plows through life with a lot of confidence, you still may be judged differently (i.e. unfairly).  We’ve previously written about the way academics are judged differently by their students depending on their gender.  So how does this affect women in the office?

In certain male dominated fields (e.g. law, finance, medicine and finance), many of the legendary figures are men.  Its not surprising given that the population for leadership figures draws on far more men than women to begin with.  But its not just a “pipeline” problem.  Performance review analysis show us that women are judged based on personality characteristics far more often than men.  And if men are more likely to be “brilliant” or “geniuses”, how is a woman to compete with that expectation?

If men are geniuses, do women simply have to work hard in order to compensate?  Do women have to be more communicative, more collaborative, and more social or socially intelligent, in order to compensate?

Unfortunately, there are no easy answers, but if you’re a woman at work, its worth being aware that you may be held to different standards.  Unfair as this may be, it might also help you navigate the judgments and expectations that lead to landing jobs, promotions or raises.

working women

Women are #leaningin to promotions!

So often the statistics and numbers about women in the workplace are depressing, irritating or downright maddening.  So we’re psyched to write about some happier numbers today.

New research from Accenture (based on an annual survey of global professionals in honor of International Women’s Day) shows a few promising things for women:

  • Most people believe there will be more female Chief Technology Officers by the time 2030 rolls aroundScreen Shot 2015-03-03 at 8.30.26 PM
  • Most people think their companies are preparing more women for senior leadership than the year before.

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  • And, of course, 54% of both men and women asked for a promotion (as opposed to last year when fewer women than men asked for one).  You can only get what you ask for, so this is one very important way to tackle the pay gap or pay discrepancies between men and women.
  • Oh, and finally, to keep things real…the ultimate finding was that most people — men AND women — just don’t want to work.  If they could, the majority of people would just rather stay at home if they had a financial choice

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