Pando

Care.com's Sheila Marcelo: "I didn't experience discrimination until I came to this country"

By Sarah Lacy , written on May 15, 2015

From The News Desk

Ever feel like an outsider in your career? Sheila Marcelo of Care.com can relate.

She was our guest at last night's New York PandoMonthly and over the course of the conversation she told the story of her journey to become one of a handful of female public company CEOs. It's an elite club that makes up a shocking 3% of all publicly traded stocks. And unlike other female CEOs in tech like Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, and Marissa Mayer, Marcelo was also a co-founder of her company.

That journey wound through scrubbing floors with coconut husks in her home country of the Philippines to international boarding school to moving to the US to attend a women's college. Her parents assumed that meant no men were ever allowed on campus. So imagine their shock when Marcelo got unexpectedly pregnant in college. Her husband promised her parents at their rushed wedding she was still going to achieve everything they'd hoped for her. And Marcelo spent the next thirty years pushing to make good on that promise.

She wasn't only "different" because she was a woman and an immigrant, she was a mother to a young child in her twenties--  the most formative years of her career. And she was frequently serving on teams where men were twice her age. Being taken seriously was a challenge, that at times caused her to lie about being a mom to make sure she was getting the same opportunities as her male colleagues.

We talked at length about the toll this took on her, and how it made her a better mother and a better boss.

One of the most stunning statements was that she didn't experience discrimination before coming to this country because the Philippines is such a matriarchal culture.

Check out an excerpt of the conversation below.