According to the New York Times, Vice President Kamala Harris said that the 2.5 million women who have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a “national emergency.” According to Labor Department data, that number compares with 1.8 million men who have left the workforce. For many women, child care demands, coupled with layoffs and furloughs in an economy struck by the pandemic, have forced them out of the labor market.
For Women’s History Month, we want to honor the women juggling many domestic duties while maintaining a fruitful career. Our goal for the Women@Work Dairies campaign is to capture internal and external employees’ raw and honest experiences with juggling working from home, taking care of their families, all while surviving a pandemic. We want to capture these transparent and genuine conversations and share them externally to act as an example of how other employers should shed some light on this issue by offering support to this subgroup of employees.
We created an audio series that showcases the faces of career women handling domestic duties and work-life stressors to gain their authentic perspective of how it’s like to juggle both lives. Learn more about Marielle, mother of two teenage boys, B2B Content Marketing Manager at Glassdoor, and her experiences as a working mother.
Glassdoor: Thank you so much, Marielle, for joining us for our first-ever audio campaign for Women@Work. Could you please introduce yourself?
Marielle Leon: I’m so excited to participate in this. My name, as you mentioned, is Marielle Leon and I oversee B2B content for Glassdoor. I’ve been here for almost five years, and I have two boys aged 12 and 14.
Glassdoor: Awesome, thanks so much for introducing yourself. Let’s hop right into these interview questions. Could you please share your experience working during a global pandemic while also having to take care of your two boys? How has it been for you?
Marielle Leon: Sure. Well, it’s been a wild ride. I mean, it doesn’t matter who you are. Parent, kid, single, college student, elderly, everyone has been through the wringer this past year. Overall, I’m really grateful for what the pandemic has taught me about what I truly value. I’ve gotten in better touch with what really lights me up. There are some things that I didn’t realize were so important to me that I took for granted before. And I’ve realized that there are other things that I thought mattered more, honestly. Before the pandemic, my husband, who runs a global sales team, traveled a lot. He would be out of town, usually on another continent, for somewhere between ten days and two weeks out of every month. I did a lot of juggling when he was gone. Glassdoor was always really supportive of my flex schedule, and that allowed me to leave work at three, get my kids from school and sports practices, and then get back online later in the evening.
Once we were all suddenly working from home all the time; this time last year, everything came to a screeching halt. I was so grateful not to be crisscrossing town during rush hour traffic, feeling stressed out about being late or missing a meeting while managing schedules of my two kids who had to be in two different places and trying to get a healthy snack in them in the process. So suddenly, the simplicity of everything when the pandemic hit felt like a real gift. All we had to do was focus on two things, doing a good job at work and taking the time to connect as a family.
But of course, you know, parenting kids who are suddenly stuck at home is no cakewalk either. As I mentioned, I’ve got two boys, 12 and 14, which was a huge transitional year for them. My younger son started middle school, and my older son started high school. And knowing that they were being robbed of this important initiation and rite of passage, you know, the first year in middle school, the first year in high school, that felt sad. But the silver lining was that they really learned how much they actually want to go to school. Like actually go in person to school. I don’t think my kids will ever dread school again. They miss it, their friends, the autonomy, the group dynamics, all of that.
The kids weren’t the only ones who realized that they thought they loathed something that actually turns out to have some bright spots. My husband and I for, sorry, I’m kind of rambling here, but my husband and I, for the first time, are grateful for video games and the way kids could gather and connect virtually. We’re, I know, right? We’re lucky that our kids are super active with soccer and skateboarding, and biking, so they could stay busy and moving their bodies. And we’re also fortunate that they’re at an age where they’re pretty autonomous with online school. Still, honestly, I cannot imagine having toddlers or early elementary school-aged kids during the pandemic. Those parents seriously deserve trophies.
But as far as working from home goes, there were, you know, some obvious hiccups. My husband and I share an office; I know I’ve mentioned this to you before, but he talks on the phone all day long, and he is not a quiet talker. As a writer, I really need to focus and be in my own headspace. My noise-canceling headphones really never come off. Sometimes the kids wander in and out to pick up homework from the printer or ask for a snack, or the dogs start going bananas because there’s a delivery at the door. But for the most part, I feel really grateful for the rhythm we’ve fallen into. But of course, you know, I’m ready for my kids to be back at school full time, and I’ll be happy for my husband when he gets to travel again, though I hope it’s not as much.
I’m really grateful for what I’ve learned, that we should never go back to eating grab and go food again, cooking every meal in my kitchen is amazing, and hiking with my dogs. Any member of my family is better than any extravagant night on the town. And I’m fortunate that I love my job and can do it from the safety of my home.
Glassdoor: As you know, recently, Vice President Kamala Harris said that the 2.5 million women who have left the workforce since the beginning of the pandemic constituted a national emergency. Have you ever felt like you had to sacrifice your career growth at all during this pandemic to further support your family at home?
Marielle Leon: Well, my heart aches for the many women in the United States and globally who had lost momentum in their careers because the pandemic happened before they got a solid foothold in the workforce. I’m fortunate that you know, I’m at a different point in my career, and my kids are a little bit older, but you know, people, women especially who are forced to be at home with small children in the midst of a faltering economy, there really could be long-term repercussions. And, of course, when women don’t have healthy careers and the ability to thrive independently, there are all kinds of fallouts. And even women who are still in the workforce, if there’s an unequal set of responsibilities at home, women are at a huge disadvantage when it comes to performance reviews and promotions. And it’s just yet another reason I’m so grateful for the even share of household tasks between my husband and me. Don’t get me wrong; I do the laundry, but you know he does most of the dishes in his defense.
Glassdoor: How has Glassdoor been supportive of your career journey during COVID-19?
Marielle Leon: I think Glassdoor has done a really amazing job supporting their employees during the pandemic. Of course, you know, we’re all aware of the layoffs and how, you know, that was just hard for everyone. And it’s not like there haven’t been hiccups or growing pains this past year, but I think the leadership has been as transparent as possible and very empathetic. As far as supporting my career journey, first off, I’m just so grateful that I have a job I love. Before the pandemic, my career journey felt like a steady if somewhat slow rise up into the rid; I’d say the visual from the past year is more like a toddler scribbling on graph paper. Some days I’m on fire and crushing it; other days, I’m just holding on. At least in terms of my personal skills and growth, I think my career is still steadily climbing. And for that, I’m really beyond grateful.
Glassdoor: How have you been enjoying being able to work from home? Has it helped balancing work-life successfully?
Marielle Leon: I really, really enjoy working from home, honestly. I do miss my colleagues and boy, I need more hugs and actual high fives from my teammates and just in life in general, but I’m mostly thrilled at what we’ve all been able to accomplish from our remote home offices.
Glassdoor: Lastly, if you could share some advice for other working mothers, what would you like them to know?
Marielle Leon: I would say, you know, working parents, in general, are superheroes. I mean, seriously. We all moms, dads, and caretakers of all kinds, really. We’ve already likely fed, dressed, coordinated the schedules, and managed several other humans’ emotional well-being before evening starting work. And you know, every parent, every caretaker likely is, you know, when they’re stepping away from Zoom calls and Google Sheets for their jobs, they’re getting back on Zoom for a school meeting and getting back into Google Sheets or any one of the thousands of platforms we all now negotiate to help our kids with homework. It’s a labor of love, but it’s not easy. And we’re so strong as a result. I’d say, remember to be amazed at all you accomplished in a day; it is truly astounding.
Glassdoor: Thank you so much, Marielle. We do appreciate your time and your story.
Marielle Leon: Thanks, I appreciate it!