CNN has released its list of the 10 Most Powerful Women in Tech. On the list are super stars like Ursula Burns of Xerox, Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, and Marissa Mayer of Google. As I was reviewing the list I found myself wondering; how many of these women are mothers?
Turns out, most of them – eight out of the ten.
One of them – Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, one of the most powerful women executives in the United States – recently made waves when she confessed that she routinely leaves the office at 5:30 each day to be home for dinner with her kids. While she acknowledges that she also works both early and late (from home, I imagine, although she doesn’t say), she says she’s very public about leaving “early” at both her current job at Facebook as well as when she was at Google.
“I hope that means that more women – and men! More importantly, and men – feel comfortable going home to see their kids.”
We’ve reached a rather crazy time in history when it’s downright revolutionary that someone goes home at the time most still call “the end of the work day.” Ria wrote here recently about the addiction to email and how the advent of technology means that none of us really ever “leave work.” There are 150 million results when you Google “work life balance”, and discussions of “juggling” dominate the conversations I have with other mothers (including those that don’t work outside the home). It’s 8:41pm on a Friday night when I’m writing this. Leave work at 5:30? I wish (although I’m “lucky” enough to do it all at home).
Last fall I began working for a technology startup founded by Joanne Lang, a mother with four boys under the age of eight. When I ask her how she manages it all, she responds with a sigh of mild irritation and says, “Why doesn’t anyone ever ask men that question?”
Interestingly, Marissa Mayer – one of the only two women on the list without children (the other is, as far as I can find, Susie Wee) – recently spoke about how she was able to avoid burnout even during the early days at Google when she was working 130 hours a week. I have to wonder if she’d still feel that way if she had kids; but then, I wonder if Sergei Brinn (whom I met just after the birth of his son* while I worked on a project for his wife Anne Wojcicki’s company) still pulls those kinds of hours now that he’s a parent.
What is clear, of course, is that for eight of these ten women motherhood has not stood in the way of their incredible success, so congratulations to them for their spectacular achievements – in motherhood as well as business.