Friday, February 14, 2014

Fighting Childhood Obesity the Fun Way

Do you ever worry about your kids' weight?

As many of you know, over the past year, after leaving my job, I started Kurbo, the first mobile and online weight control program for kids and their families. Partnering with folks from the Stanford Pediatric Weight loss program, we are working with behavioral therapists, game developers and pediatricians to make an effective, fun and safe solution to help kids manage their weight and eat healthier.

Think of it as a combination of myfitnesspal and Weight Watchers but safe and effective for people of all ages -- not just those over 18. We help kids to track and budget their foods without counting calories with a mobile solution that has been tested at Stanford for over 12 years.

We are starting our beta at the end of March and registering beta users - kids between the ages of 10 and 18 and their families.

All families selected to participate will be given our mobile app and coaching for FREE.

If you are interested in applying for the Beta, please visit our website at and register for a Beta invitation.

If you know anyone who might be interested, please feel free to share this message.

Thank you!!

Joanna Strober

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

7 Policy Changes America Needs So People Can Work and Have Kids

Guest post from Stew Friedman, author of Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family.

Stew Friedman, author of Baby Bust

We are in the midst of a revolution in gender roles, both at work and at home. And when it comes to having children, the outlook is very different for those embarking on adulthood’s journey now than it was for the men and women who graduated a generation ago. 

I recently published research from the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project, comparing Wharton’s Classes of 1992 and 2012. One of the more surprising findings is that the rate of Wharton graduates who plan to have children has dropped by about half over the past 20 years.

It's worth noting that these percentages are essentially the same for both men and women, both in 1992 and in 2012. The reality today is that Millennial men and women are opting out of parenthood in equal proportions.
This change in Wharton students’ plans for parenting is part of a larger trend; a nation-wide baby bust. In 1992, the average U.S. woman gave birth to 2.05 children over the course of her life.  By 2007, this number had crept up slightly, to 2.12.  But, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average number of births per woman declined during each of the four years following 2007, dropping to 1.89 (preliminary estimate) – below replacement rate of 2.10 – in 2011.  The decline we observed in the Wharton study was more pronounced. While the average 1992 graduate expected to have 2.5 children in his or her lifetime – well above the U.S. mean at the time – the average 2012 graduate planned to have only 1.7.

These numbers are a bit deceiving, however, in one important way: Among those respondents in both 1992 and 2012 who planned to become parents, the number of expected children remained stable at 2.6. What caused the average of the expected number of children to plummet was the sharp decline in the portion of people who planned to have any children, through birth or adoption.
We know, of course, that not everyone wants to be a parent, but the majority still do. The percentage of people who said that being a parent is important in judging the success of one’s life declined only slightly over these two decades, from 84% to 80%.  My research, and that of others, increasingly points to the fact that the thwarting of young people’s aspirations is the result of external pressures that make having both a successful career and a child seem impossible.
Our current capacity to meet this challenge is cause for very serious concern. But there is no one solution; partial answers must come from various quarters. Here are seven ideas for action in social and educational policy, based on my own research and what others have learned:

Provide World-Class Child Care

Children require care, yet the U.S. ranks among the lowest in the developed world in the early childhood care we provide. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in a study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the majority of American day care providers ranked fair or poor and only 10% were deemed of high quality. Yet Americans spend more on child care than other developed countries, and many of those countries are able to provide excellent child care.  In addition, the cost of care has doubled since the 1980s, according to the Census Bureau.
Just as bad, if not worse, the K–12 education we offer falls far short of our aspirations and of global norms, and the results are distressing. 
A massive overhaul could start with labor market compensation practices. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, child care workers earn even less than home health care workers.  A smarter approach would be to treat those who care for children as professionals and to invest in the training and licensing requirements that would be needed to justify much higher rates of pay for those who care for our youngest citizens. High-quality child care not only helps children but enables their parents – mothers and fathers – to engage fully in the workforce without unnecessary distraction and worry.
Our 2012 respondents were attuned to the fact that children require a caring person tending to their developmental needs.  This was true the men as well as women.  If Millennials want children – and realize wisely that children need to be cared for and that often both parents work outside the home – then we need to step up, as other countries have done, and invest in nurturing our young.

Make Family Leave Universally Available

Family leave, including paternity leave, is essential for giving parents the support they need to care for their children. Right now, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics only 11 percent of U.S. employees receive paid family leave from employers. The one public policy that covers time off to care for new children, the Family and Medical Leave Act, laudable though it is, still excludes 40 percent of the workforce. And millions who are eligible and need leave don’t take it, mainly because it’s unpaid, but also because of the stigma and real-world negative consequences.
We need to expand who’s eligible for FMLA and make it affordable; the more people who use it, the less there will be stigma, and a virtuous circle will be created to replace the vicious cycle we have now, wherein parents opt out of work and young workers opt out of parenting. Now, FMLA applies to all public agencies, all public and private elementary and secondary schools, and companies with 50 or more employees. But the rest of American workers are not eligible for the 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected leave.  In other developed countries, family leave is available and it is paid.
The Millennials in our study, including young men, wanted to be engaged, loving, and present parents, but they could not see how they could make this work economically.  The FMLA is a resource that provides them with the support they need.

Revise the Education Calendar

The standard school day is based on an outdated schedule. Other countries have children in schools for longer days and for a greater part of the calendar year, providing support for working parents and enrichment for children. Friedman’s The Measure of a Nation indicates a correlation of nearly 90% between the number of school days and the results on a world-wide measure of reading, math and science. Revising the school calendar would be a benefit to children, to working parents, and to organizations that would, in the long run, have a better prepared workforce. Having children in school longer hours and for a greater part of the year is yet another way we as a society can help support young dual-career families so that they can envision a way of having their family and work lives in harmony rather than in perpetual discord.

Support Portable Health Care

In our study, the anticipated financial costs of childrearing negatively affected Millennials’ plans for becoming parents.  Given the rising costs of health care, working parents benefit greatly from health care policies that don’t punish them for taking time off or moving. The Affordable Care Act is a step in this direction. It helps families obtain care while avoiding crippling debt as both parents might now have to navigate careers in which they move from job to job. And preventive care reduces the need for time off due to health problems that afflict workers and their children.  This is yet another way that we can ease the burden for those young couples who want to have children and two careers.

Relieve Students of Burdensome Debt

Many young people simply can’t envision a future in which they can afford to support children because they are carrying high levels of student debt. Skyrocketing interest rates on student loans and the increasing cost of higher education result in debt burdens are too onerous. Chris Christopher, senior economist at IHS Global Insight, calls student debt “a real monkey wrench in the works of our families and economy,” adding that if college costs and student debt continue to rise, the nation’s low birthrate may become the “new normal.

Nobel-laureate economist Joseph E. Stiglitz concurs. “Those with huge debts are likely to be cautious before undertaking the additional burdens of a family,” Stiglitz writes. What’s true nationally is also true of the Wharton men we surveyed in 2012. Those men who told us that they had financed their undergraduate educations through employment during school, private loans, government loans, and scholarships and grants were significantly less likely to plan to have children.

Display a Variety of Role Models and Paths

In our sample, we found that career paths have narrowed because students believe that they must earn money quickly and that only a few options offer this. One man from the Class of 2012 said, “Career paths today seem to be pushed upon students too quickly, or students find themselves in paths they don't feel are expressing their true selves but are ‘stuck’ due to financial reasons.”
The more that young people hear stories about the wide range of noble, and economically viable, roles they can play in society, the easier it will be for them to choose the roles that match their talents and interests. Young adults would benefit from exploring as wide an array of career alternatives as possible, including and especially those that allow them to have the kind of autonomy and flexibility required to be engaged in both their careers and in their roles as parents. 

Require Public Service

Our study found that young people today, especially women, want to do work that helps others, despite their expectation that they will not be well compensated for it.  And young women who expected their jobs 10 years in the future to provide the chance to serve others were significantly less likely to plan to become mothers.  Young people are yearning to do work that benefits others.  Our society could channel that enthusiasm and idealism by requiring a year of public service for postsecondary school youth, which would not only improve our workforce but would help all of us recalibrate what’s really important. And it might help those young women who, as we observed, now foresee a tradeoff between social impact via one’s career and motherhood, to envision instead a life in which they can serve both the family of humanity and a family with children of their own in the scope of their lifetimes.

There are a lot of unknowns about what our current birthrate means for business. Some argue that in our neo-capitalist society, based as it is on information and finance, there is need for a smaller but more productive labor force. Families no longer need their children for farmhands and so society, and our increasingly automated manufacturing sector, no longer has the same demand for labor.  On the other hand, an aging population with fewer workers could mean trouble sustaining social-security programs, projecting military power, and maintaining a high degree of innovation.
But what we do know is that families centered on a single-earner father are no longer the norm. And yet our current institutions are still based on this outdated model. We, as a nation, need to focus on what children in our society require – nurturing. How can they get it if we do not provide the essential social and educational support that working parents need?


Stewart D. Friedman is the Practice Professor of Management at the Wharton School. The former head of Ford Motor's Leadership Development Center, he is the author of Baby Bust: New Choices for Men and Women in Work and Family and of Total Leadership: Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life. For more, visit or find him on Twitter @StewFriedman.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Creating a More 50/50 World, One Blog at a Time

Today marks the release of the brand-new edition of Getting to 50/50: How Working Parents Can Have It All. To celebrate, we're taking a virtual tour around the web, sharing tips and advice on 50/50 parenting. Follow along as we hop around to chat with other working parents and open the conversation about making the world more 50/50.

Getting to 50/50 Blog Tour:

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ending the Chore Wars: Here's How!

“Don’t go home so early!” Time magazine’s cover story this week tells women – that’s the way to end the chore wars. “As long as women pull back on paid work, they enable men not to.”

After talking to thousands of men and women across the country, we know it’s a lot easier said than done.

Love may conquer all but it doesn’t take out the garbage. And then enter kids: 90% of couples report more fighting when their first kid is born -- that’s when battles over who does what rise to a whole new level.

If you’re skeptical that men will do their part at home so women are free to follow Time’s advice, take a look at some of the social science we used to write Getting to 50/50. It’s an easier sell than you think.

Men who do more chores:

1. have more sex with their wives

2. are 50% more likely to stay married

3. have kids who do best in school (when dads go to school 3x per year or more)

4. earn as much as guys who don’t do their share according to economic data – and get promoted at almost the same pace

What more proof for #4? Check out Harvard Business Review on how men produce quantifiably better results when they don’t spend all their time at the office – even in the most 24/7 of jobs.

We know this isn’t an easy conversation. Here are some tips that have helped many couples end the chore wars.

Josh Coleman, psychologist and co-chair of the Council on Contemporary Families, says: “The lyrics are rarely as important as the melody—getting your tone right is key.” From his counseling practice, Coleman finds wives are most effective when they speak in a matter-of-fact way “rather than a victimized or burdened way. Her tone should be affectionate though unmovable.

In our book, Getting to 50/50, our favorite advice came from a guy we interviewed. “No one wants a boss when they get home,” he told us. So we women can fire ourselves as household CEOs, treat our partners as equals at home, and negotiate in 4 simple steps. (They work great for us – when we remember to use them : -))

Pause to short-circuit the emotion and reflect. (You just want him to put the wet clothes into the dryer—this is about laundry, not love.)

Connect in ways that affirm the importance of relationships.(This is your partner you’re talking to, not the no-show house painter, so treat him accordingly.)

Get genuine support that doesn’t necessarily validate your point of view but, rather, helps you gain a broader perspective.(Talk to other working couples. Do they, with similarly overpacked schedules, think it’s worth insisting your partner make the bed with hospital corners?)

Shift your mind-set from “You need to change” to “What can I change?” (Hold your tongue when he makes dinner by ordering in Chinese. Try to see it as creative.)

For more on 50/50 check out our Facebook page!

[Excerpted from Getting to 50/50, drawn from HBR advice on defusing conflict at work]

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Check out Hillary on women as $5+ trillion growth opportunity

One of the biggest growth markets in the world may surprise you. You've heard about the opportunities opening up in countries like China, regions like Asia and industries like green technology. But one major emerging market hasn't received the attention it deserves: women.

Today, there are more than 200 million women entrepreneurs worldwide. Women earn more than $10 trillion every year, which is expected to grow by $5 trillion over the next several years. In many developing countries, women's incomes are growing faster than men's.

Facts such as these should persuade governments and business leaders worldwide to see investing in women as a strategy for job creation and economic growth. Many are doing so. Yet the pool of talented women is underutilized, underpaid and underrepresented in business and society.

Throughout the world, women do two-thirds of the work, yet they earn just one-third of the income and own less than 2 percent of the land. Three billion people don't have access to basic financial services we take for granted, like bank accounts and lines of credit; the majority of them are women.

Click here for full article.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Women's Leadership Initiatives Fail--Joan C. Williams in Forbes

We all know the grim statistics. Women in C-Suites are still as rare as icicles in July. Companies often express their concern with a so-called "women's leadership initiative." They are often well-intentioned. So why do so many initiatives produce so few results?

They take the wrong approach. If we continue to rely on vague good intentions, meaningful change will take generations. Thirty years of social science, though, offers clear guidance on how to address the organizational issues that keep women out of leadership roles. Here are four steps to a social science-based approach:

Get serious. Too often, at the Center for WorkLife Law, we hear from women who want us to come speak to their leadership initiative, but are unable even to pay our expenses. Here's what we say: Don't accept an assignment unless you are given the resources you need to succeed in implementing it. That's standard business advice, and it's relevant here.

These women often are asked to shoulder new responsibilities on top of their existing workloads, often without a budget or administrative support. Then they find their efforts don't count when comp time rolls around. Only about 3% of women believe that contributions to diversity are valued in remuneration, according to my recent co-authored study of women law firm partners, New Millennium, Same Glass Ceiling?

A women's leadership initiative may well hurt women rather than help them if it requires them to spend time, with administrative support, on activities that distract them from activities the organization truly values and rewards.

Click here for full article in Forbes by Joan C. Williams.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

How men can improve work for women- Penelope Trunk

Throughout my career, men have helped me every step of the way. Sometimes it was when I asked for help. Sometimes they saw I needed help even before I did, and they were there.

So you might think this is December-is-full-of-good-cheer-post – you know, me thanking men for all they’ve done for me at work. But no. It’s me asking for even more. It’s my wish list for what else men could be doing.

For full article by Penelope Trunk of Brazen Careerist click here.