A CEO and mother of 10-year-old twins whose lengthy job posting for a “household manager/cook/nanny” went viral last week is defending herself from critics who mocked her exacting requirements, which include river swimming, vacation planning and traveling, skiing, managing databases tracking chores and allowances, playing math games and preparing organic, allergy-friendly meals while considering vegan substitutions and the latest dietary studies.
In an interview with Slate, the unnamed, self-proclaimed “single mom entrepreneur” from Menlo Park, Calif. explained what motivated her to post what’s been dubbed by the Guardian as the “the most demanding ad for a nanny ever.”
“All I really want to do is run my business well and be the best mom ever,” she said, noting that the demands of caring for two children with various activities has to be outsourced. As a busy CEO and single mom, she added, she struggles with the pressure to do it all — and considered backlash to her job posting sexist.
“As a working woman, I need a wife,” she shared. “Our society is broken. Here it is January, and I’m having to spend hours of my time, like late at night, trying to figure out summer camp and get them signed up for sports and all that. [I’m a single parent,] but if I had a two-parent household, I would assume that the other parent would at least be doing some of that, one would hope. Although, again, most women tell me that they have to do it all. So I think that people related to the post because it’s absolutely true. If you’re a working woman, you need a wife.
“Also I think a lot of people read the post, and women attack women,” she said. “We live in a sexist society. And so, of course, women are sexist because they live in a sexist society. If I were Scott McNealy, former CEO of Sun Microsystems, and I’d done this ad, nobody would think twice.”
She went on to defend some of the job requirements featured in the ad, which she placed after being sent candidates who didn’t meet her family’s needs.
“I need somebody who is physically active,” she said. “My kids and I love to swim in rivers. We’re really into river swimming. We’re into going to rivers and swimming through caves in rocks and also climbing rocks and diving off the rocks. I was trying to give some examples of what I meant by ‘strong and physically fit,’ because I had problems before when I’ve recruited au pairs where I’ve said ‘must be physically fit,’ etc. and even when I’ve said ‘must be able to run a mile,’ the person shows up and there’s no way they could run even an eighth of a mile. I wanted to make sure that the agency would be able to screen like: Can you swim in a river? Can you swim against a current? Can you swim in the ocean? Can you body surf?
“I put in the list what’s preferred and what’s necessary,” she continued. “I would love it if the person were a strong skier and could arrange ski vacations. Most families go on ski vacations with the husband and the wife, right? Usually one of the parents is the stronger skier or they’ll tag team taking the kids out. But for me, if I take them skiing alone, I mean, that’s exhausting, right? Having somebody who’s great at skiing, who likes skiing, is really good.
“But the important [qualifications] are what differentiates the nice, grandmotherly baby nanny from this wife type is the executive functioning: the ability to plan, to do research, to make good decisions about ‘this is the right flag football team versus that one and this is why.’ It’s intelligence, education, analytical skills, thoughtfulness. That’s not like a superwoman or super nanny. Most of the moms you know probably have all of that.”
Though some readers still balked at her posting (calling her demands “obnoxious” and the $35-$40 hourly wage, plus perks, insufficient), the interview also resonated with many commenters, who related to her struggle as a single parent and working mom. The ad, many have noted, lists tasks that make up much of the unpaid labor mothers especially are expected to perform — for free.
I was much more impressed with her when I realized she wa a single mother. I am a widowed single mom and although I can’t imagine needing all this, I know that if my mother/co-parent ever moves out I’ll need help. And screw anyone who judges me. Sit there and eat your food.
— Leslie Streeter (@LeslieStreeter) January 25, 2020
Love this! Our financial planner told my husband he needed to double my life insurance. I’m a retired lawyer and primary caregiver for our two boys. He said if something happened to me, my husband would need a lot of money and help to keep working 60-80 hrs/wk.
— Jessica Dempsey (@J_P_Dempsey) January 25, 2020
So glad you did this interview with her. I’m tired of everyone tearing down women CEOs. Motherhood is hard enough. Let’s try supporting working moms and women in power and cutting the negativity.
— Janine Sickmeyer (@myfriendjanine) January 26, 2020
Sorry haters – I love this person and how honest she is. I see you CEO mama! The way she clearly lays out her expectations is refreshing, sometimes you need to spell it out if you want to get what you want. No need to poohpooh her lifestyle, she knows what she needs.
— KVC (@kellybean333) January 26, 2020
The nanny hirer seems like exactly what you’d expect a very wealthy single mother with an executive job to be like, and she’s responding rationally to that unusual set of circumstances https://t.co/jcS4ZJxgDw
— Gabriel Roth (@gabrielroth) January 25, 2020
This is great. I think what people who were dunking on that nanny ad miss is that the job requirements that were listed are in most cases job duties moms are supposed to do for free (river swimming aside). https://t.co/NWJZLO1nvB
— Marisa (@mar_to_go) January 25, 2020
The childcare role, incidentally, remains open; interested candidates can apply here.