As far as moms go, mine is pretty tech-savvy. When she isn't DM-ing me an adorable dog and/or baby pic on Instagram, she is schooling me on how to organize my Gmail. She's also very partial to the prayer hands and kissy face emojis. Since we live thousands of miles from one another, technology is crucial to our relationship and enables us to interact every day (or sometimes, like, three times a day).
Ahead of Mother's Day, I talked to 12 leading women in tech about the relationship between motherhood and technology — how they teach their kids about tech, what their kids have taught them, and their favorite apps and gadgets to use as moms, from Google Assistant to the Elvie breast pump.
So don't forget to FaceTime your mom on Sunday, and while you're at it, give her the gift of, I don't know,
a smart watch instead of the usual Mother's Day flowers.
Liz Meyerdirk, Head of Global Business Development, Uber Eats As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "My kids are really young: 4, 2, and a baby due any day now! My husband and I both love what we do and devote time and travel to our jobs. What that means is our every day can be hectic and the time together we do have is meaningful and precious. We focus a lot on how technology enables us to have more time to connect in meaningful ways: ordering Uber Eats means Momma has more time to build forts and play Magna-Tiles rather than cook dinner, and FaceTime allows us more time with family who live in other states." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "Outside of Uber Eats, my favorite technology to use as a mom is our family Google Calendar. It may sound basic, but it creates some method to the madness by keeping track of my and my husband’s work and travel commitments, along with our kids’ schedules, too. Last year we missed Pajama Day at my son’s school, but this year, stepping up our GCal game helped us remember to have his favorite monster jammies ready to go. It’s the small things that make a big difference."
Mouna Sidi Hida, Principal Lead Program Manager, Microsoft As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "My kids are at an age where I still impress them with what I can do with technology – I’m sure the tables will eventually turn, and my hope is that they fully embrace it, dream big, and take full advantage of all the amazing things they can achieve with it. I do teach them that it should not replace the human touch, and that I’ll still expect a kiss and a hug no matter how many emojis they send me every day." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "As a mom who encourages her kids to use technology to explore, have fun, and connect with friends, I love tools that help me set guardrails and make sure my daughters are developing healthy digital habits. Screen Time is one of my favorite tools – it’s important to me that my kids are learning and playing both with and without technology. A healthy balance is key."
Frida Polli, CEO and Co-Founder of Pymetrics As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "As a female tech founder and a mother of two daughters (with our third on the way!), I have always tried to teach my girls not to be intimidated by tech. It's a male-dominated space no doubt, and the 'boys' club' can be intimidating to infiltrate, but I've always tried to position that as all the more reason to get into it. Strong women can make a huge impact in tech — it's one of the areas where we are needed most. And it's also a super exciting place to be!" What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "Grammarly! It's a great Chrome extension that corrects your spelling and grammar in real time – my daughter introduced it to me, and I don’t know what I’d do without it."
Kristin Sverchek, General Counsel, Lyft As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "Everything in moderation. I learned this lesson from my parents, and it continues to be true even in today’s world. Technology can be very powerful; it can help us learn on a compressed timeline, but sometimes there is no substitute for family-oriented 'real world' activities (reading a book, baking, taking a walk, etc.)." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "Lyft, of course! Over four years and two kids later, my husband and I have remained a single-car family. We both work busy jobs, and have many after-work commitments (ballet class, gymnastics class, dinner with friends, work events, you name it!), and we’ve been able to do this all with one car because Lyft exists to help us get around the city."
Seine Kim, Communications Lead, Instagram As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "I want my child to understand that tech can be an amazing resource — and there are experiences in the real world that it can never replace. Honestly, having a child forced me to be more aware of my own smartphone habits, so the teaching goes both ways." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "I’m biased, but Instagram has been the best way for me to stay in touch with other mothers and find some sanity in the chaos. New motherhood can be incredibly isolating, and I didn’t have many local mom friends in the beginning, so it was important for me to connect with other people who were going through the same experience. At one point I had DM threads going with friends in Portland, London, and Singapore — it really helped during the first few months when you’re getting no sleep and are desperate for someone to talk to in every time zone!
Sha Sha Chu, Android Engineering Lead, Pinterest As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "I'd like my children to understand that tech itself is neither inherently good nor inherently bad, but becomes 'good' or 'bad' based on the the way it's built and the way it's used. At the end of the day, technology is just a tool, and like any tool, it can be abused or it can make the world a better place. It's hard for me to imagine what exactly tech is going to look like as my kids grow up, but it's inevitable that it will be an integral part of all aspects of their lives, so recognizing 'good' and 'bad' uses of technology is going to be a crucial skill." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "It's not something we think about a lot, but having a smartphone camera is a game changer for parents nowadays. I love that when my ridiculous kids are doing ridiculous things, I can just reach in my pocket and capture the moment. Related to this, Google Photos' auto-backup feature has saved me more than once."
Dina Berrada, VP of Product Management, WeWork As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "One of my goals is to teach my son a balance of appreciation and restraint for technology. Working in this industry, I appreciate all the wonder and advancements it has to offer, though I want to teach my son that he doesn’t need to be tethered to technology. We’ve intentionally limited his interaction with it for his first three years to help him experience the real world with all of his senses through live interactions. We are slowly introducing him to technology, such as video chats with family abroad, and I’m excited to teach him to design, create, and build things, which we’ve already started doing with cardboard boxes." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "As all mothers know, you’re almost always on the go and your hands are usually full. Voice assistants have become part of my support system, doing everything from turning lights off when I leave the house with bags and toddler in hand to ordering more diapers before I run out. The voice assistant even helps me unwind after a long day by guiding me through breathing exercises!"
Michelle Kennedy, Founder of Peanut As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "I would like my child to know that tech can genuinely open the world, and that's not just in terms of knowledge, but in terms of imagination. If you can dream it, chances are, you can make it happen — maybe not immediately, but at some point. What could be better than knowing that understanding technology, how it develops, and how to build it can change your life? For me, tech is that 'dare to dream' approach, and provided that's being used for good, I think that's exciting." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "PEANUT! Apart from Peanut, I love all the new gadgets around parent-tech at the moment — the Elvie breast pump, the Snoo crib. I mean, they feel obvious, but they're long overdue!"
Chelsea Maclin, VP of Marketing, Bumble As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "I am the mother to a wonderful baby boy, Quinn. Right now, we like to minimize the use of technology around him – meaning no television and little use of our phones. At Bumble, we saw a need for users to pause their activity and prioritize mental well-being through “Snooze,” a feature we launched last year. This is something that my husband and I plan to keep in mind while raising Quinn. We'll introduce technology to him in a thoughtful and intentional way as he gets older.” What's your favorite technology to use as a mother? “I’m a huge fan of anything that makes my day more efficient, especially as a new mom. Making friends as an adult can be intimidating, even without the steep learning curve of parenthood, so I love to use Bumble BFF as an easy way to connect to those who may be going through a similar stage of life as me. I also like to meet new people as a way for me to tap into my creativity and inspiration, and Bumble Bizz is an amazing way to engage in creative conversations. The Spotify app is also a family favorite — music always puts me in the right headspace, so I love to listen to it while I dance (poorly) and play with Quinn, or while I’m reviewing proposals for work. With a new child, it’s important to focus on budgeting and plan for the future, so Mint is a really great way for us to stay on top of our budget.”
Lilian Rincon, Director, Product Management, Google Assistant As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "I'm half Chinese and half Spanish, and when I was 9 I moved from Venezuela to Vancouver, Canada. I entered an English as a Second Language class and I was the only Spanish-speaking student. As such, it was a very lonely time, since I couldn’t speak with many people at school. For about a year, the subject I could invest in and began to love was math, as it's the only universal language. My mom was a computer engineer, and I grew up watching her program at night and on weekends. Seeing how much she loved technology – along with my own passion for math – really inspired me to pursue a career in computer science. "With my own kids, I believe strongly in helping each of them find what they are passionate about doing – from music and art to math and science. Both are young, and it’s about exposing them to many different things so that they have the same chance to fall in love with something that’s interesting to them. I want to inspire them the same way my mom did — by letting them see why I love my work." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "Google Duo is one of my favorite apps! I’ll use it with my kids once or twice a week to video call their grandmas. It’s special to connect with my mom and mother-in-law on a weekly basis even though they live far from us. "As a busy mom, it’s incredibly important to take some 'me time' so I can show up as my best self both at home and at work. I adore fitness apps like the one from Alexia Clark. During the week, I’ll get up early for an uninterrupted 30-minute workout before the kids wake up. This energizes me and sets the right tone for me to tackle the day. "Additionally, the Google Assistant has great features for kids — like 'read along,' which helps families reimagine story time with physical books. As a mom, it’s really exciting to see how this makes reading so much more fun!"
Jennifer Ceran, CFO, Smartsheet As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "I want my children to be aware and to leverage the latest and greatest applications so they can be most productive and always do their best work. My two girls are 27 and 21. My 27-year-old is already very tech savvy, using all the latest and greatest software tool applications. I actually ask her about tech more than she asks me. When I got the call to be the CFO of Smartsheet, I asked her if she was using it. She was, and she actually prepped me for my interview by telling me how she used the technology at work and what she likes about it. I also asked her what she thought could be improved. I do believe her coaching helped me to get the job." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "Find My Friends. I can keep track of my two girls, which is comforting, and it goes in reverse. But sometimes there are unintended consequences. One time, my husband was rushed to the hospital from work with stomach pain (it turned out to be kidney stones). He called my daughter's boyfriend and asked him to come to the hospital. He told him not to tell my daughter, as she worries a lot. When neither of them responded to her texts, she checked Find My Friends and saw that both of them were at the hospital. The cat was out of the bag!"
Leslie Witt, VP of Design at Intuit As a mother working in tech, how do you approach parenting when it comes to technology? "Tech is a means – a phenomenal means, at that – but not an end in its own right. I want my kids to understand the power technology provides as newfound possibility, its latent potential to solve big problems, in tandem with respecting and inspecting the norms that it shifts and the human reality it aims to serve. I want them to understand the ethics of engagement and to have deep awareness of the new problems technology can create in its wake. "The rate of change driven by dynamic tech shifts today is something out of sequence, out of all historic experience, with the broader cultures’ ability to keep up. Living in Silicon Valley, my kids — twin 7-year-olds obsessed with Scratch, Siri, creating, and media! — live in a setting where that velocity of change is their norm. It is an insulated bubble of privilege, not just of the monetary kind, but of the experiential kind, as well. And in many ways that’s even more powerful. Every day, what they’re doing and seeing, what their friends’ families are working on and developing, opens their minds to big and bigger possibility. It implants utopian visions in their souls. That’s an amazing reality. But, it’s also a big responsibility. They will have to be conscious consumers and highly conscientious creators. "Working at Intuit, empowering small business success through technology, I get the chance to show them what responsible, mission-driven technology development and deployment looks like every day. But you have to talk about it and unpack the what and why to ensure that they begin to grok the moral and ethical underpinnings of possibility." What is your favorite technology to use as a mother? "I’m a sucker for Alexa. Tells me the news, plays my favorite podcasts, sets all the timers needed — something in the oven…and on the stove? Ten minutes of iPad time earned? Fifteen minutes 'til we need to leave for karate? It also empowers my kids to ask and answer their own questions – whether that’s just how to spell ‘question’ or deep discovery of their new favorite songs and increasingly niche interests. Now if only we would embrace ‘polite’ mode." Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? From Facebook Divorce Announcements To Instagram Shade: The Art Of The Social Media Breakup “I Will Remember You”: The Best Captions For Your Graduation Instas When You Need To Switch Up Your Swiping, Try These Dating Apps
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