Dear Mr. Shireson,
Thank you for your post, “Why I am Leaving the Best Job I Ever Had.” The fact that you were willing to make a career change for the sake of your family is commendable and, moreover, I appreciate you drawing attention to the exacerbated hardships of women in leadership positions. Not only do women face increased public scrutiny, they also face pressure to choose their families over their careers. In 2007 the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that after 10 years in the paid workforce, nearly 34% of mothers reduced their hours or quit altogether, compared to only 3% of fathers. This is just one reason why women lose $431,000 over the course of their careers compared to men’s earnings. For women of color, the wage gap is even larger with African American women earning only 68% of men’s wages and Latinas earning only 59%.
You also rightfully drew attention to the overwhelming demands and double-standards women in the workforce face when juggling a family. Nearly 70% of mothers with children under the age of 18 were part of the paid labor force in 2013, 40% of whom were the primary breadwinners, yet women put in an additional 28.5 hours of housework and childcare every week, nearly ten hours more than the average for dads. Worse yet, 51% of those mothers don’t have access to paid leave. Problems for single mothers are even greater, as 58% of them are low-income.
But beyond the stigma and obstacles facing women, I wonder if you’re aware to what extent your situation, as a whole, resonates with middle and working-class America. For many of us, it seems like the ability to achieve the American Dream is no longer a reality. Home ownership is on the decline, student loan debt is rising, and the gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow. You stated that writing your piece may cost you $10 million dollars in the future. I suspect you probably just made that number up. When it would take the average American 312 years to accumulate such wealth, however, you have to acknowledge the vast difference in perspectives and standards of living. I suspect you are aware of such hardships and that was largely why you decided to write about your experience.While I sincerely applaud you for the gesture, however, I wonder if your keen insight and platform about these issues will stop as merely a gesture.
I appreciate your nod to women in the workforce and I appreciate your nod to middle and working-class America. As I’m sure you already know, however, you are neither a woman nor middle or working-class. That being said, as you soon will serve as Vice Chairman of MongoDB; I ask that you continue to both keep in mind and take action for those of us who are. I ask that you continue to take action on behalf of those of us who do not have the safety-net to move from one massively powerful and lucrative role to another, those of us who do not have the platform to draw attention to the issues we face ourselves. I ask you to take action on behalf of those of us who are still fighting for a living wage, affordable health insurance, and paid family leave.
You are in a unique position to call upon a powerful audience and shape policy. As class-lines grow increasingly polar and rigid, it’s rare someone even approaches this broadening gap. Thank you for using your platform and privilege to be an ally and for taking the time to provide a space for public discussion such as this. It’s evident your insight and aptitude spans beyond business and technology, upon which you already helped build quite an industry. I ask of you, Mr. Shireson will you follow through on this as well?