Every time I sit down with a powerful working mom, I wrestle with whether to ask the “mom question.” I don’t want to be part of perpetuating a double standard by asking women in business a question that men are not asked. However, as a mom myself, I want to know the answer — How do they do it? What are their mom hacks? What can I learn from them?
When I first met YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, I was moderating a panel she was on for Harvard alums. We were both wrapping up our maternity leaves. She had just had her fifth child; I’d just had my second. We traded tips on maternity clothes and I peppered her with questions about how she finds her balance. Wojcicki was kindly very open and it’s advice from her and so many other amazing working women I’ve had the chance to meet, that’s helped me manage my own career and family — and helped me to believe that I CAN DO IT.
So, I’ve decided to ask women questions about parenting how and when I feel it is appropriate, and sometimes men too. On the day Yahoo announced the acquisition by Verizon, I spent the majority of the interview asking Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer about running the business. At the end, I also asked about how motherhood has changed her approach to leadership, given that her parenting decisions (rightly or wrongly) became such a flashpoint in her tenure. She lit up as she talked about how amazing it’s been to watch her children learn and how much she has learned about herself in having them: “I love to work. I love to have an impact. I love to talk with them about it…and for me it’s really important to keep going.”