Today, I’m launching Chairman Mom, a subscription-based platform where badass working women can help each other solve the hardest problems they face.[Update: Fast Company’s Lydia Dishman and TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey just wrote about the launch.]
Our aim is to rebrand working motherhood as exactly what it is: Something badass and aspirational that you are doing not in spite of your family but for your family, and — more importantly — for you.
By launching a second company, I’ve officially become the biggest cliche in Silicon Valley: A serial entrepreneur.
Just like that cliche, I am applying everything I’ve learned from building Pando, and I believe that I’m that much better this time around.
Just like that cliche, I went out and raised a $1.4 million seed round off little more than my reputation and an idea.
Just like that cliche, I am building something inspired by my own personal experience; something I need, and something I hope millions of other people in the world need too.
But unlike that cliche, I am a single mother in my 40s who isn’t an engineer. That difference changes everything about what we’re building.
Our engineering team is entirely made up of women. Out of the 13 investors we raised $1.4 million from, only two were white men. Our “business model” will not be raising aggressive mega-rounds with record-breaking valuations. Harvard researcher Joan C. Williams has rightly called the bro-unicorn playbook exactly what it is: A pursuit of masculinity more than any pursuit of actual profits.
We won’t be the cliche of a Silicon Valley company amassing eyeballs for years before we figure out how to make money. We are already making money. That’s right: Before our public launch today, we already have hundreds of paying members. To those members, we’re making a simple promise: We won’t addict you; we won’t manipulate you; we won’t repurpose and repackage you. We won’t “sell” you — in either sense of the word. We won’t try to sell you on a bunch of products you don’t need, and we won’t sell your data as a commodity either.
Women have long been the most active demographic on social media, helping Silicon Valley moguls make untold billions with every photo shared, every status update tapped out, and every “Like” liked. Women are also some of the most abused users of social media…. Particularly moms.
Exactly how bad is it? Chairman Mom commissioned a study along withSurveyMonkey to find out. Here are a few stats we found out, after surveying 1,290 adults aged 18 and over, 870 of which say they have children under 18. Tl;dr: Social media hasn’t been a place to lift moms up, it’s mostly been a place to break them down.
- 85% of the women we surveyed have seen moms shaming other moms on social media, a stat that was consistent across full-time working moms (85%), part-time working moms (80%), and stay-at-home moms (85%). 31% of full time working moms and 30% of stay-at-home moms say they see it “frequently.” Mommy wars have only benefited the ad-based platforms they are waged upon.
- Only 4% of working moms seek guidance or advice on work related issues on social media. Only 32% turn to the workplace for advice. 44% of these women said social media did not help them be a better parent.
- 37% of working moms do not find support on social media.
- 31% of these women say they check social media more than six times a day, and yet nearly two-thirds of them say they would consider quitting social media in the near future.
- 49% of these women have left a job because they did not feel supported as a mother.
We think the Internet can do better. We want to build a community that never makes you feel worse about yourself every single time you use it.
Redefining working motherhood is a massive opportunity and a massive challenge. It’s a bias that is at the very core of American society. Maternal shame, maternal guilt, and maternal bias at work are endemic, whether you have children or not. 60% of women face maternal bias at work– the most overt form of bias, because many managers believe they are “helping” you become a better mother by denying you promotions and more challenging opportunities. Some 40% of Americans believe its bad for society if women work, according to Pew. This despite nearly half of all American households having female breadwinners.
As a nation, our views of motherhood are wildly out of step with the reality. Indeed, the most rapidly growing demographic of new mothers are women that look at lot like me: Ambitious working women who are over 40 and aren’t married. According to Pew, the majority of never-married women in America in their 40s are now mothers. This woman is also having more children than she did in the past. And for educated single women in their 40s the rates of motherhood have more than doubled.
These women are seeing through the bullshit. Clearly for them, having a child and a career clearly isn’t untenable, and the answer to work life balance isn’t some enlightened 50/50 spouse.
A lot of people in this country hate this new reality. Our current sitting Vice President Mike Pence has even argued that working mothers stunt the emotional growth of kids. And that’s why we are one of the only nations left on earth that does not give women paid leave after childbirth. It’s why we don’t offer any subsidized child care in those early years. If you want to rob women of economic self-sufficiency, that’s a great way to make work and motherhood seem untenable. That’s when you strike.
Working women: We are here for you, and we know you can do this whether the patriarchy agrees or not. Our community of badasses has your back.
Chairman Mom is all about combating that isolation working women feel, where all that shame and guilt breeds. Our initial product is a curated question and answer forum aimed at solving the hardest questions women face. Questions you can’t ask elsewhere on social media, and questions you may not have anyone else in your life you can ask.
Already, we have close to 100 active threads on the site tackling everything from how to negotiate for more money and what to know before reporting someone for sexual harassment to time saving tips for getting out fast in the mornings and how to raise young men in an alpha-bro world. This isn’t a site for endless debates over the merits of cloth versus disposable diapers, nor is it a place to judge anyone on their parenting choices.
If that sounds like something you want to pay $5 a month to be part of, join now. If not, check us out again in a few months. We’ll be adding new features every week.
Tough questions; tougher women. Welcome to Chairman Mom.
Here’s our launch announcement video, produced by the hugely talented team at Moving Portraits…