A job ad posted by a Silicon Valley CEO and mum of 10 year old twins for a Household Manager/ Cook/ Nanny went viral recently. It’s not difficult to understand why.
The job brief, over 1,000 words long, has been variously described as ‘batshit’, ‘totally bonkers’ and ‘a case study in invisible labor‘.
— Indrani Sen (@IndraniNY) January 25, 2020
Aside from being a safe driver, great with kids and a skilled cook, the suitable candidate would ideally be an expert skier, capable of building alliances with other kids’ parents and nannies, reviewing and modifying household hand books and “strategically think through vacation options based on the developmental levels of the kids and the need for the mom to relax”.
Not to mention being kind, high energy, university-educated and willing to commit to five years with the family. I kid you not.
Personally, I oscillated between shock, astonishment and disbelief as I read it. It could well have been satire: the more I read the more convinced I became that it had to be, but it’s been confirmed as genuine.
The woman who wrote the ad, a 39 year old tech entrepreneur who remains anonymous, even did an interview with Slate.
Great interview with the woman behind the viral household manager ad. It takes A LOT to be a parent and a CEO.
I absolutely have all this same support (though I get the majority from my husband) and I am in absolute agreement that it’s necessary https://t.co/V5JpqzzKth
— Sara Mauskopf (@sm) January 25, 2020
Obviously this ad pertains to the home life of the 1% of the population who live an existence so rarefied it’s barely recognisable to mere mortals who don’t earn in three years what a CEO might pay their household help in a year.
Like many others, as I read (and read, and read) my way through the 54 points I couldn’t help but conclude that if there was a candidate who fulfilled all those requirements they ought be running a country or a company or leading the global effort to combat climate change or eradicate gender equality.
It seems crude to say a hugely qualified person expending their intellectual and emotional energy to the running of another person’s house and family is ‘wasted’ but I’d be lying if I said that thought hadn’t crossed my mind.
Right before it dawned on me that the world over highly qualified women do exactly that…without the pay.
Because despite this ad being comically, wildly, un-relatable, there was a teeny tiny part of me that could relate. In many ways the breadth and depth of running a home and raising children, even at one-fiftieth of this intensity, is comical and wild.
Even without spreadsheets to compare holidays or seeking to build alliances with families, trying to accommodate the physical, emotional and intellectual needs of multiple children and run a home is easily a full-time job. It’s just that very few of us can devote full-time hours to it, rather we do what we can and people wonder why working mothers are so overwhelmed.
“Bearing the brunt of all this emotional labor in a household is frustrating … It’s frustrating to be saddled with all of these responsibilities, no one to acknowledge the work you are doing, and no way to change it without a major confrontation.” https://t.co/4ySkrOIiz2
— Robin Beth Schaer (@robinschaer) March 24, 2019
The other thing I recognised about this ad was that that only a female CEO could write a brief of this nature.
I don’t have any verified, academic research to prove that but I do know that the overwhelming majority of CEOs in Australia (and around the world) are men, who we know, are very often supported by wives who undertake the bulk of the unpaid component of raising a family and running a home.
How many male CEOs know the logistical details of how their family operates? And, how many households are dependant upon the full-time working male CEO being across and on top of these logistical details?
As Annabel Crabb covered in her recent Quarterly Essay, it’s not even a question the Prime Minister or Treasurer, both fathers of school aged children, could answer.
please tell me this is an incredibly well-crafted argument-destroying point posted by the under-appreciated partner of some asshole CEO out there who blew up on them because there wasn’t enough fish for dinner one day
— Sarah 🌙 Park (@itsmesarahp) January 23, 2020
We also know that when women become promoted to CEO they are more likely to get divorced which means if they have children, they may then very well become a CEO and single parent who desperately needs a wife. Like this woman did.
“I’m sure you’ve read the I Need A Wife article that was in Ms. Magazine in 1971. It’s 39 years later, and as a working woman, I need a wife,” she told Slate. “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.”
You’d be hard pressed to find many working women who would disagree.