The importance of men leaning out
Earlier this week, Max Schireson, the CEO of New York-based tech company MongoDB, wrote a post about stepping down from the top position at the company. He‚Äôs quitting, he says, to spend more time with his family. ‚ÄúFriends and colleagues often ask my wife how she balances her job and motherhood. Somehow, the same people don‚Äôt ask me,‚ÄĚ he writes.
In some ways, this move isn‚Äôt terribly novel: just one guy writing briefly about his decision to become a (not-quite-so) stay-at-home dad. And perhaps there‚Äôs a bigger backstory that no one is talking about. But in this case, that‚Äôs neither here nor there. Culturally, it‚Äôs an incredibly important step. Gender equality is a balance. Sure, there‚Äôs room for a small amount of economic growth, but broadly, leadership positions are nearly zero-sum. Sure, women can slave away, clawing their way to the top, but the gender imbalances aren‚Äôt going to change broadly unless men let them in. In some instances this means hiring and promoting women, but in others it means leaning out of their careers a bit.
Nor is this a perfect example ‚ÄĒ¬†Schireson is staying on as vice chairman and handing his CEO position over to another man ‚ÄĒ but his post also goes into detail about the importance of his wife‚Äôs career as a doctor and professor at Stanford:
[I]n addition to her clinical duties, she runs their training program for high risk obstetricians and conducts research on on prematurity, surgical techniques, and other topics. She is a fantastic mom, brilliant, beautiful, and infinitely patient with me. I love her, I am forever in her debt for finding a way to keep the family working despite my crazy travel. I should not continue abusing that patience.
The recognition that families are hard to sustain when both parents have ambitious careers is nothing new. But having the man be the one to say, ‚Äúhey, I‚Äôm going to take a step back,‚ÄĚ definitely is. And it‚Äôs refreshing.