Pro Mamas Changing the Equation for Austin Moms

After a decade with my company I was ready for a new challenge, but finding the opportunity to job share in a new industry was like smashing my head into a brick wall. At the same time, work was dramatically changing and all my friends were feeling strangled by technology, overwhelmed and burnt out, but I’d experienced the exact opposite job sharing.

Pro Mama: Melissa Nicholson

I started Work Muse for everyone—job sharing should be gender and parent-neutral—it doesn’t matter why you want to job share as long as it’s a fit for you. Your company will benefit and you’ll be healthier and happier. Win-win.

But the Motherhood Penalty is real, and the truth is that a large part of the gender equality equation is staying in the game without decelerating your career. With job sharing, you get the time you can never get back and don’t have to trade flexibility for your career. Helping my working mom friends find the win-win-win for career-self-family that I experienced first-hand job sharing has become equally as important to me.

What Happened at 40 for my Working Mom Friends

Enter Jessica Gaffney & Ariele Rosch, two determined, smart moms changing the equation for moms to find jobs that fit their needs, starting in our Austin community. If you haven’t yet, sign up for their newsletter here for vetted jobs that pass the Pro Mama muster!

Work Muse: How did you meet and how did the idea for Pro Mama originate? 

Jessica & Ariele: We met through a mutual friend in Austin. We commiserated over how challenging motherhood can be while following our toddlers around.

Ariele: Jessica’s own experience as a new mom inspired her to come up with the idea of Pro Mama. When Jessica’s daughter Gray was six month’s old, she wanted to find a part-time job that kept her in the game, allowed her to use her brain (and the degree she earned) and take a break from diapers.

Jessica: I didn’t want a full-time “Lean-In” type of job at that moment in time.

About a year ago, I shared the idea with Ariele who not only could relate but took the idea to the next level. We immediately agreed to partner and make it happen, so we can help other mamas.

Work Muse: Becoming co-founders is a lot like job sharing. What conversations and considerations did you have when deciding whether to partner?

Jessica & Ariele: We talked a lot about where we both were in our lives and our expectations for Pro Mama. We both had so many other responsibilities (family, job, etc.) at the time (still do!), so it was helpful to get on the same page about how much time and energy we could commit. Because we were completely aligned, it has worked out really well. We continue to check in with each other and that communication is key.

Work Muse: What strengths did you each bring to the partnership and what’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from working with one another? 

Jessica: Ariele is a superstar designer, social media expert, and creative mind.

Ariele: Jessica focuses more on relationship building and community outreach with businesses, mamas, and potential partners.

Jessica & Ariele: We think our strengths really complement one another. We’ve learned that the success of our business depends on the compatibility we have as partners. Both inspiring each other and having patience with the process helped it get off the ground at a pace that makes sense for both of us. We’re very lucky.

Work Muse: How did you choose your mama-friendly criteria and what’s their importance in changing the workspace for mamas?

Jessica & Ariele: We chose our mama-friendly criteria based on our own experiences, the feedback we have received, and the many conversations we’ve had with other mamas. Even though each mama and her experience are different, we are finding that every mama wants a job that fits her lifestyle. That lifestyle changes once she has children and, therefore, her criteria for job success will change too. Flexibility with the number of hours, time of day, location and medical benefits are just a few of those potential needs. Not being stigmatized is another very important one.

It’s so very important for employers and society, in general, to wake up to the fact that all parents need to be supported. It’s been proven that a company’s revenue, turnover, corporate culture and physical and mental health of its employees are at stake. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 70% of mother’s work today and more than 40% are primary breadwinners, earning 50% or more of their’ family’s income. Immediately after Fortune 500 companies announced new work-life balance policies, their stock prices rose an average of .36%, indicated that investors view these policies as profitable investments (Source: Arthur). And companies with 30% or more female leaders had net profit margins up to 6% higher than companies with no women in top ranks.

We are making small changes in the right direction—like New York State’s paid family leave policy—and we hope to advocate for and embrace these changes at Pro Mama.

Work Muse: What’s your greatest hope for your work baby, Pro Mama? And for your real babies as you raise them? 

Jessica & Ariele: Our greatest hope if for Pro Mama to truly affect systemic changes that will ultimately make it easier for parents to raise their children in a healthy, positive, and productive way. This is a human issue, not a female issue.

Just like most parents, we hope to raise good humans—kind, smart, creative, and helpful citizens of the world. What better way to do this than to be the example we want our kids to aspire to. Sure, we all want to live our best lives; but if we can create a company that helps us and others navigate new mamahood, we’d be really proud of ourselves and our work baby!

Melissa Nicholson is the Founder & CEO of Work Muse, a job share solutions firm. Job sharing is a partnership between two people to share the responsibilities of one full-time position. Work Muse drives adoption of job sharing in business as a source of competitive advantage while helping individuals find work-life balance. Join the#JobshareRevolution here –– events, resources, and relevant content to empower you in work and life! For more info,

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