WNYC Studios’ “Note to Self” Presents “Taking the Lead: Two Working Moms with a Big Idea”

WNYC Studios’ “Note to Self” Presents “Taking the Lead: Two Working Moms with a Big Idea” 

Four-Part Podcast Series Follows Two Women as They Try to Launch a Tech Business, Raise their Families, and Stay Sane Doing It

Series Explores How Gender Roles, Entrepreneurship, C-Suite Politics, Professional Identity, and Parenting Intersect in Real Life 

New Episodes Each Wednesday from July 6 – July 27

(New York, NY – July 6, 2016) — Today’s tech landscape boasts nearly 200 companies valued at $1 billion or more. But dollar amounts are far-outpacing progress in terms of gender equality. In a joint study of tech companies by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company, women accounted for only 15 percent of the C-Suite. Troublingly, this gender inequity extends across industries. A recent look at the S&P 500 reveals that women hold CEO positions in only 4.2 percent of organizations and four percent in the Fortune 500.

Today, Note to Self—WNYC Studios’ weekly podcast about preserving our humanity in the digital age—launches “Taking the Lead: Two Working Moms with a Big Idea,” a four-part series delving into the forces driving these alarming statistics through the personal lens of two working moms trying to launch a tech start-up.

Documented over the past two years, “Taking the Lead” follows Brooklyn-based entrepreneurs and working mothers, Rachael and Leslie, as they try to reconcile their professional ambitions with parenting. Rachael and Leslie create an app, “Need Done”—a digital tool to help parents complete to-do lists and household tasks—with the intention of allowing more women to “lean in.” But as the duo tests the app, travels to Silicon Valley and back, and pitches a startup accelerator, their journey becomes increasingly complicated, leading to broader questions about where women fit into the tech economy and whether we’re truly ready to radically redefine gender roles at home.

Note to Self’s “Taking the Lead” series will be available weekly through July 27th. Upcoming episodes include:

  • Wednesday, July 6 – “The Pain Point” – Note to Self host Manoush Zomorodi and listeners swap cringe-inducing work-life balance stories. The episode also introduces Rachael and Leslie’s very different family situations. Together, they hatch the idea for their app, Need Done. To understand exactly what Silicon Valley is like for working mothers, the women head for Palo Alto to meet the competition.
  • Wednesday, July 13 – “The Paradox” – The two mothers-turned-entrepreneurs test their app on 20 Brooklyn moms with mixed results. Leslie, whose husband is the primary caretaker for their daughter, is ready to compete like a stereotypical tech founder (young, male, working 70 hours per week). But Rachael begins to question whether she can handle acting as lead parent and starting a company. Things get meta as the women wonder: Is playing by Silicon Valley's rules the only way to win over investors, or, can they forge a new model of feminist entrepreneurship that’s profitable and has social value?
  • Wednesday, July 20 – “The Pressure” – Having tapped their kids’ college funds, the two women join a startup accelerator in Massachusetts where they hone their pitch. But as they prepare for the final competition, Rachael and Leslie feel pressure to choose between either dazzling investors with projected financial valuations or explaining the feminist values behind their service. In this tightening market, are investors set solely on returns? Can the social mission behind their company convince investors to fund them?
  • Wednesday, July 27 – “Partnership” – The final episode goes behind the scenes with the judges at the startup accelerator’s final competition. Faced with a surprising twist and with mounting financial and familial pressures, Rachael and Leslie must make yet another important choice: whether to prioritize parenting or their company.

The final episode of the series will also feature an interview with Anne-Marie Slaughter, author of the much-buzzed about 2012 piece “Why Women Still Can’t Have it All,” which looked at the gendered reality of achieving equal opportunity at work, and her husband, Andrew Moravcsik (Professor of Politics, Princeton University) on how the United States is in the throes of a new debate on male-female equality and how tech, as well as a female president, could help more working mothers access positions of power. The two will also discuss their marriage, their own professional and personal sacrifices, and what anyone thinking of starting a family nowadays must consider. 

“Like many working parents, I would love to stop feeling so conflicted about 'leaning-in' at work while trying to be a hands-on parent,” said Zomorodi. “Instead of just crying in the shower, this series is a chance for us to talk about our human limitations, what works for today’s parents, and what role tech could have in helping us solve very personal problems."

Note to Self is available on wnyc.org, iTunes, and all other places where podcasts may be downloaded.


WNYC Studios is the premier producer of on-demand and broadcast audio. Born from the team that created some of the most critically acclaimed and popular podcasts of the last decade, WNYC Studios is leading the new golden age in audio with high-quality storytelling that informs, inspires, and delights millions of intellectually curious and highly engaged listeners across digital, mobile, and broadcast platforms. WNYC Studios creates some of the most beloved audio series, including Radiolab2 Dope Queens, The New Yorker Radio Hour, Freakonomics RadioDeath, Sex & MoneyHere’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin, Note to Self, On the Media, The Takeaway, and Studio 360. Their programs include personal narratives, deep journalism, interviews that reveal, and smart entertainment as varied and intimate as the human voice itself. For more information, visit http://wnycstudios.wnyc.org