Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Haley Reading Group: “The Squeeze: Silicon Valley Reinvents the Breast Pump”



[The Best American Science and Nature Writing (2018)]

Sophie Brickman’s “The Squeeze: Silicon Valley Reinvents the Breast Pump” focuses on the evolution of the breast pump and the most efficient and modern version of it, the Moxxy Flow. Brickman details the difficulties four women engineers encountered when trying to create, market, and sell this product.

To explain the awkwardness of trying to incorporate pumping into daily routines at work, Cara Delzer, cofounder of the Moxxy Flow, likened pumping to “having to take off your pants for half an hour before hopping into a boardroom to deliver an important presentation” (50). She partnered with other businesswomen, marketers, and engineers in 2014, to create multiple versions of a breast pump which would evolve into the current Moxxy Flow. This article highlights how this breasts pumps aids in making women’s lives as mothers and working women practical and efficient.

What's one way this article shifted, expanded, or enhanced your views about women in business or women in engineering?

57 comments:

LaTrina Brown said...

The article expanded my thoughts on women in business because it made me realize that anyone is capable of doing anything they set their minds to. Four women came together collectively all with the same problems of breast pumping. They were tired of humiliation in their work spaces and came up with something that would help women all over the country. The breast pump that they created is projected to make 2.6 million dollars by 2020. That is the true definition of girl power, I admire these women.

Anonymous said...

The article enhanced my idea of women in Business and Engineering because it showed how women bring diversity to the field and how that can bring about change and new ideas. In the article, it discussed how the men that these women were working with had not thought of the functionality of breasts and so, would have never come up with this new design. The men thought that the old design worked just fine. The women knew that a change was necessary.

M. Taylor

Aleeya Barrolle said...

This article enhanced me view about women in business when the article stated ‘“I work, don’t have an office, have a seven-week-old at home, and don’t want to pump in the bathroom,’ said Chloe Sladden, former VP of media at Twitter and a founding investor with #Angels, a women-led venture capital group.” (49). I had never thought about what women go through if they plan on breastfeeding.



-Aleeya B.

Devin Ellis-Martin said...

After reading this article, it was definitely enlightening to many struggles women within careers face. However, I am aware that women do face these obstacles, boldly, and not backing down, so it did not change my view on them within the work force. I believe that they will continue to do so, in any regard.

-Devin Ellis-Martin

Anonymous said...

This article opened up my eyes on what women in the work place have to go through. Brest feeding has been turned into a shameful thing that women in the work place are expected to hide. However, it is so natural that it shouldn't be. When we eat our food we don't hide away in a bathroom for no one to see. Mothers should not be expected to do the same for their babies. This article reinforces the idea that there needs to be diversity in the work place so that everyone's needs can be met. A group of men working together are less likely to create or try to enhance breastfeeding technology because they personally don't need it. However, a group of women working together can help cater to and make sure others women's needs are met.
Fatima Bashir

Alexis S. said...

This article enhanced my view of women in engineering and business because it showed that through their struggle they still managed to create and sell their product. This article showed the ways that they did research, pitched the idea to people (men) who wouldn't understand the struggle of pumping, and spent time perfecting the perfect versatile pump. The article proved that women are hardworking, strong, and passionate about issues that need to be solved.

- Alexis S.

Zuriah Harkins said...

I was already somewhat aware of the struggles that breast-feeding mothers go through when they are at work. However, after reading the article, I realized how hard it really is to not only find a place to pump, but to also find a comfortable and convenient pump. The article stated that new developments of the breast pump are just now starting to be created, and that most women have been using the original design from the 1920's. Therefore, this article enhanced my view about women in business because women have enough obstacles in the workforce as it is, and becoming a mother should not be one of them.

Zuriah H.

Samantha A. said...

This article enhanced my view of strong women as it illustrated women's perseverance. Women in business and engineering are advantageous as they already have the knowledge on how to create and sell products that can improve many lives. With strong passion and determination, women face all difficulties with confidence to achieve their goals.

Samantha A.

Mackenzie Cohoon said...

One of the women in the article recalled "being on a work camping trip, topless and sliding down in the car's front seat, away from the prying eyes of coworkers who meandered outside" (52). This quote expanded my view on women in business because it brought to light just how much women have to go through just to be in the same field as a man; they have to work twice as hard and go through twice as much just to be at the same level. And when they get to be on the same level as men, they are still constantly sexualized, even though acts as simple as feeding a child.
-mackenzie cohoon

Unknown said...

The article, "The Squeeze: Silicon Valley Reinvents the Breast Pump" confirmed the previous beliefs I have about how the way in which society treats women who choose to breast feed over formula. This issue on lack of accommodation for women is a structural issue that needs structural solutions. In order to make adequate change, we must look to policy changes in the workplace and not just individual companies or organizations providing the proper areas to pump.

-Madalynn R. McKenzie

Isaiah Jackson said...

This article gave me an example of the hardships women have to face in the workplace. The awkwardness of traditional breast pumping should be obvious the moment you actually think about it, and yet Delzer had to go through dozens of pitches just to get funding. There is no reason to be indifferent to others' problems simply for the fact that you don't have those problems yourself.

-Isaiah Jackson

Zaria Whitlock said...

This article enhanced my view that women in higher corporate positions is important especially concerning issues that directly affect women. It is important to have different groups represented in engineering and business so that women’s needs are considered when decisions are made regarding women’s bodies. For example with breast pumps which are only used by women, women should be designing breast pumps because it should be engineered in a way that best accommodates women’s bodies. Women should be in charge of designing and selling items that are made for women because women typically are more sympathetic to the needs and experiences of the women using the product. I admire the work these women are doing to make this particular experience better and more accessible to other women.

-Zaria W.

Cheniya A. said...

While this article reinforced the notion, "If you want something done right, do it yourself", it has also shifted my thoughts about fair in opposed to equal accommodations. It made me realize that while women make up a slightly larger percentage of the population overall, their needs remain a minor priority. What is more, many women who become mothers have to deal with it, as my own mother did. Brickman states, "'I work, don’t have an office, have a seven-week-old at home, and don’t want to pump in the bathroom,’ said Chloe Sladden,' (49)." This highlights why the men of the company did not feel the design should be changed - they did not have to deal with it. This article made me realize just how hard it is for working mothers and in turn, why there should always be diverse teams, groups, and decision boards so that no product targeted toward a given demographic can be botched by negligence of those who haven't had or will not have that same experience.

Cheniya A.

Caleb Abernathy said...

In correlation with the article, it definitely enhanced my view on the struggles that woman have in the work place. I was aware that a plethora of issues existed regarding woman in the business world, but the thought of breast pumps never came to mind. One individual mentions, "It's just undignified and unjust."(50) Like me, I feel that most people are just quite myopic about the subject of breast pumps. Not only were/are they very uncomfortable to use, but they are rather inconvenient and a hassle to use most anywhere.

The article definitely expanded my knowledge about woman in the business workplace, and I will try to be more cognizant of these aspects that they unfortunately have to deal with quite frequently.

Alexis H. said...

Alexis H.

This article reinforced my views in business and engineering by showing that although they are a woman in a man's field of work. Women have a lot more they sacrifice when a child is born and they a lot more to do. This article also showed that although they were often looked at funny, they still continued to do what they had to do for themselves. All the women in the story had embarrassing stories and they didn't let that stop them.

Overall this article is definitely a great article for everyone to read (males and females). It shows how the workplace is different and should be seen as gender mutual.

Youssef Hassan said...

It surprised me to learn about the fact that not much advancements has been made to the invention of the breast pump since the 1920s. That means women most likely had to use similar technology for about 90 years. What also surprised me was how women have to explain to men how tedious breast feeding could be be because they most likely never went through it. It reminds me of how people who are scientifically literate would have to take their time in explaining why GMOs are not dangerous to someone that is not scientifically literate.

James Beverly III said...

I really enjoyed this article - it's always interesting to see how women struggle in the professional business career. It shows how strong and resilient they are and how they always have to work twice as hard to achieve their goals and make it past society's sexist norms. It also showed how strong women are when they have a child as have to raise that child as well as perform their duties within their careers.

James Beverly III

Samontriona P. said...

Before reading this article, when I first thought about women in business, many issues came to mind, but breastfeeding was not one of them. I feel that this article enhanced my views about women in business and engineering because it showed me that having that diversity is important. It is not very likely that men would be making changes in order to develop a more efficient breast pump, particularly because they are not the ones that have to use it. Many people view breastfeeding as something that should be done in a private setting, therefore a more modern and efficient pump could be less hassle for women and allow society to have less to say in regards to breastfeeding itself.

Anonymous said...

This article enhanced my view of women in the workplace because it showed me, again, no matter what the disadvantages women have in their acquired fields, they always find a way to thrive and make themselves known. Since engineering is a male dominated field, I could see how women were tired of having to hide in order to do a normal body function. This is draining for women “who donat have an office” (49) and are expected to hide in their cars. This article further proved to me how powerful and innovative women can be. - Raillane K

Kyla Tinsley said...

The article enhanced my knowledge about what breastfeeding women in the workforce go through. I already knew that breastfeeding at work was not a pleasant time, especially when there isn't a private space to do so or a quiet device to use to pump. This was reaffirmed when a woman stated "I work, don’t have an office, have a seven-week-old at home, and don’t want to pump in the bathroom (49)." Women have always had to work twice as hard as a man to get respect and prestige in their fields, especially in the field of STEM, and breastfeeding in an uncomfortable environment with an uncomfortable device makes this process even harder.

-Kyla T.

Jordan R. said...

This article enhanced my view of what women have to face in the workplace. For something as natural as breastfeeding, there is a true stigma in our society that makes women self-conscious and doesn't allow women to feel uplifted/encouraged. This article shed light on many of these areas.

Adejoke Adanri said...

This article really made me think of how women in business have it so much harder, especially when they are making products designed for women. There are several products designed for women that are not designed with women's needs in mind, page 50 even states "If mom would like to do something with her hands beside hold her cones the place, she needs to wear a sort of medieval corset". The Moxxily products sounds like something that so many women who are nursing would take interest in, but of course it isn't yet covered by insurance.

Alliyah M. said...

One part of the article that I found interesting was when Brickman stated, "She'd often find herself in pitch meetings slipping parts under her bra and awkwardly explaining to a room full of VC partners - 93 percent of whom are men - the indignities of the pumping life" (51). From this quote, I can see how it's easily possible for issues that women face gets resolved very slowly. Since most of the people at those meetings were men and they probably don't know much about breast feeding, they could easily deny funding breastfeeding companies if they are reluctant to understand or listen to the struggles women face.

Linda H. said...

Often the idea behind women in engineering or business who work are that they don't make time for their child like they should because they are so busy with their jobs. This article just shows that not only can you make time for kids, but you can be innovative and create things for other mothers to make their lives easier. This article has expanded my thoughts on what is possible for women who work full time jobs with kids.

-Linda H.

Kenisha Townsend said...

This article showed me how difficult it can be for women in male dominated jobs such as business. The article mentions how Delzer found herself in pitch meetings awkwardly explaining how the breast pump works to a room mostly full of men (p.51). I can imagine how this can be very awkward. It shows women in these fields have to be strong to deal with backlash they may receive from insensitive or ignorant men regarding topics of this such.

Jovahna Williams said...

This article expanded my knowledge about the real struggles women must deal with in a workplace setting. Being a woman who actually works for the state in the summer I have experienced first hand some of the struggles women face but it opened up my perspective as to how often it really happens.

J'kolbe K. said...

This article shifted my thinking on the subject of breast pumping. I had always considered it a easier alternative to physically breast feeding your child but i was wrong. On page 50 the author states, "the first mechanical breast pump... was invented in the 1920's, and little has changed about the fundamental design." I believe breast pumps are long over due an update to better accommodate the mothers of today.

Phoenix Johnson said...

This article expand my appreciation for moms that work. I always respect all moms ones that stay at home or go to work. I never new the struggles women had at work. When Dezler said "I'd be in a meeting, then 30 seconds later find myself with my shirt off," I seen that moms are pressured with responsibilities everywhere (50). This is shows women deal with embarrassing or private matters all the time through work and keep their responsibilities for their life and job above par.

Anonymous said...

It is great to have female representation in the business field so that our problems are not only addressed, but provided realistic solutions. I was happy to read that the team that worked on the redesign of the breast pump was all women. I would like to hear about the progress on insurance companies covering breast pump expenses. Maybe this will be another issue solved when mothers in business and/or engineering come together again.

Anonymous said...

It is great to have female representation in the business field so that our problems are not only addressed, but provided realistic solutions. I was happy to read that the team that worked on the redesign of the breast pump was all women. I would like to hear about the progress on insurance companies covering breast pump expenses. Maybe this will be another issue solved when mothers in business and/or engineering come together again.

Jasmin Smoot

Brandon N said...

As a man, I had no idea of the amount of problems women faced when it came to breast pumping. I find it interesting that there are actual college graduates looking to solve breast pump issues such as soreness and virtual nakedness. This also shows the insurance industries lack of care towards the situation with breast pumps showing up in cardboard boxes with sketchy instructions (50). Hopefully we will get to the point where comfortable and convenient breast pumps will be less costly.

Brandon N.

Trevon Bosley said...

This article was very interesting I'd never thought about how complicated current breast pumps made the life of women.It truly opened my eyes to a problem engineering could fix that I'd never thought about. Also I just thought a innovation to breast pumps would've happened in the early 2000's not recently.

Jeremiah T said...


The article expanded my perspective on women in business and women in engineering. I was aware of the obstacles women face working in male dominated fields, but I never thought about challenges like breast feeding. The article has made me realize that gender equity has to be addressed along with women being underrepresented and gender equality.

geonel m said...

This article is an inspiring and empowering message to not only women but also people in general. It is a reminder that as long as we believe in ourselves and we put ourselves into working hard, we can accomplish many thing that can be very surprising. This four women are an inspiration. Sometimes, the solution to our problems is right under our noses, we only have to think hard and work hard to make a difference in our society. It is also a message to men at the workplace. It tells how much they should not only respect but also advocate for women because of all the inconveniences they encounter in the workforce.

Geonel M

Kelsey McNeil said...

While reading this article, it reminded me of a Ted Talk I watched about this same problem. I do not remember what the speakers name was but I do know that she touched on some of the same things that were touched on in this article. A part that stuck out to me is "I work, don't have an office, have a seven-week old at home, and don't want to pump in the bathroom" (Brickman 50). This stuck out to me because it shouldn't have to be that women need to hide their bodies to support a life that they created. But this also shows that when women do pump, they shouldn't be watched and made to feel uncomfortable.

Kelsey McNeil

Unknown said...

The way that this article changed my view on women in the field of business and engineering is that if we work together women can do absolutely anything they want if they wanted it bad enough. A lot of the time men think that when women work together it will be a lot of bad blood but this goes to show that is not the case

-Tara T.

Michael Dade said...

This article impressed me because it did a good job of explaining the difficulty women face in the workplace. As a guy it's easy to neglect how much easier you have it when you don't encounter the same disadvantages and obstacles that others might regularly. Women do so much more than what they're actually recognized for and it's enlightening to learn about other's stories.

dgeeter said...

The way women were treated in the intro was pretty ridiculous. Shows how much of a difference there really is when considering different sexes in the workplace. Women kept pushing though and we've come a far way. This article broadened my view of women in engineering/business because it showed through their struggle they still created and sold their product.

Nia Piggott said...

The article furthered the idea of how some companies fail to realize the different needs of their employees, particularly with the different needs for each gender. I found it inspiring the way these women addressed the issue and found a solution. They didn’t need to wait for someone to fix it for them. This article shows how important it is for companies to recognize the different demographics within their business. hope to find job that focuses on inclusion and the needs of the diverse workforce.

Justin Jubert said...

This article expanded my view of women in business because, like all jobs, there needs to be diversity, especially when creating products. It is necessary for products to work for all body types and ethnicities. Nipple shape and size vary by ethnicity, with Asian nipples tending to be longer (52). Without diversity, there will be a product-centered around the majority, which in most cases are Caucasians. This fails to incorporate minorities who should be treated as equals.

Anonymous said...

This article did not make me realize anything new, but it did show me more data and told me the personal stories of more women. This article also shows that even though they have to deal with these hardships, there are women who push themselves to not only survive in the workplace, but to thrive and get high up positions in their companies. Now they use the experience and influence they've gained to try and help other women from being in similar difficult positions.

-Marcus U.

Anonymous said...

These women are an inspiration to all women in that they saw a flawed, widely used and marketed machine (for women) that could be more user-friendly, discreet and efficient. They took a risk and pushed forward to design, proposed it to big companies and marketed it and have launched the sale of an amazing product that, I'm sure, will make the working mom's life easier and less stressful. I never knew that nursing women were so inconvenienced by trying to find private places to pump and how difficult it was to try to provide nature's milk to their babies! It is very hard to be a working mom. I was also impressed that they were able to price the breastpump at a price that insurance companies may possible consider covering. Here's to hoping!

Miles W.

Anonymous said...

This article is interesting because it shows the struggles of women just to be on the same playing field as men. The new breast pump should help millions of mothers into the future.
Breann Walton

A. Robinson said...

This article confirmed my belief that women are often underestimated by their male peers in the work field but I liked that this article portrayed the fact that women have a lot to bring to the table idea wise because they can come from a different perspective than the male mind. The article shows this through the design of the breast pump.
Alexis Robinson

Jasmyn Kloster said...

This article by Sophie Brickman titled “The Squeeze: Silicon Valley Reinvents the Breast Pump”, only solidified my thoughts about how women are treated in the workplace. I think it is really important for people to understand that a breast feeding mother can get so uncomfortable if she has not fed or pumped in awhile. It is important for a woman to have a safe space to take care of her business without the fear of someone walking in or asking "what's that noise". If the roles were reversed, and males had to breast feed children, it makes me wonder if the treatment and efficiency of the products would be the same. I think it is great that empowered women are giving other women a practical, efficient, and affordable way to be a working, breast feeding mother.

Ivyanne B. said...

This article really shined a light on the way that women are treated in the workplace. It’s not easy being a working mother and to have no where to pump or have pumps that aren’t very effective can be hard. It shows how we as a society need to change or shift the normal workplace environment. Make it easier for women to pump at work. I think that reinventing the pump is a smart idea but also shifting the workplace view.

Brandy Collier said...

This article expanded my knowledge about women in business because it made me think about how women have felt uncomfortable to pump in public and in the workplace and they shouldn't have to because it is natural after having a child so the fact that women are succeeding at being more comfortable pumping in the workplace is exciting.

-Brandy Collier

Anonymous said...

One thing that I really got out of this article is that women have been very undermined throughout the whole scientific process. After reading this, there is not even a doubt that they have brought more to the table than men have and that is why we as humans have to acknowledge this and not stick to the old morals that have kept us back for too long. Much praise to the women who go through the flawed, sexist work environment and still work hard with everything they've got

Anonymous said...

This article enhances my thinking about women in business because it made me realize that the medical tools available to women are lacking in terms of being current and tech savvy. The text explains “these other large (pump) companies have this relationship with insurance and health providers that is baked in, and they’re not incentivized to be more human-centered or focused on the modern woman” (51). This is astonishing because although it has to do with health, the economy is changing so the health sector should change as well. Jobs are becoming more competitive and women need a leg up considering that maternity leave causes a lot of employers to look away. These old medical devices are ultimately a disadvantage to women.

—Aliyah Johnson

Daeja Daniels said...

It really surprised me reading this article. Over time many things have changed. Just in the past 10 years phone have changed drastically. So i find it very surprising that breat pumps however have not. However, I do love how these women decided to address a problem in their workplace.

Anonymous said...

This article was very interesting and highly prevelent in the social climate that we live in today. It showed the daily struggles that females experience in the workplace dominated by men. It is so important that women have a higher level of representation in the fields of engineering and business. This could be beneficial when concerning issues that directly affect women. Such as the breastfeeding pumps. These should be designed by women as they are only used by women! This is important because women are typically more knowledgable concerning things that deal with other women. - Gabrielle W

Anonymous said...

After reading this article, it enlighten my previous belief that it is harder for women in business to get a product, that is carried for women, through to market. On page 51, the author explains that,” she’d often find herself in pitch meetings slipping parts under her bra and awkwardly explaining to a room full of VC- 93 percent of whom are men- the indignities of the pumping life“ it’s very difficult for a women to sell a product to men that can’t physically experience it themselves. It just shows that more women need to be expose and brought into these leaderships fields, so more ideas like the Moxxly Flow can be made and easier to get to market. - Dasmin W

Anonymous said...

What I took from this article was that we have all heard how hard it is for women in the workplace. Not a lot is said about mothers in the workplace. And of course there are companies who try to guide you through it, however it’s not as simple as giving you 10 minutes a day to pump. The process of being a new mother is stressful beyond what most people know. To help them out, listen to what they have to say about how to make the workplace just a place away from their child, but a place to be happy and productive. - Kaelyn B

Thomas Siganga said...

With the intro of this article, it gave me a good idea of the struggles that women had to go through in their workplaces. This led me to believe that overall, with the new ideas that were introduced(the one in this article being an actual good way for breast feeding), there shouldn't be such a small amount of women engineers or business majors. Even if it didn't change my thoughts that much, I do believe that the stigma of women in society not being able to be engineers or business majors is not really valid. -Thomas Siganga

Jayla Pierce said...

This article enhanced my knowledge on how important women in business are. Women bring in different ideas and experiences that men cannot. “But , Allen admits, his lactation learning curve was steep. “I didn’t realize nipples could get so sore,” he says. “I definitely have more empathy now.” There are men in the business and engineering industry building things and making business proposals for things they do not understand or connect with. The question of, “Why wasn’t there a brand out there that appealed to her” was asked within the article, which is important. It goes to show how much a women could bring to the table, the different ideas ad experiences women have.

Jazsmine Towner said...

The example that Delzar used about having to pump was like “having to take off your pants for half an hour before hopping into a boardroom to deliver an important presentation” (50). I thought that this analogy was eye-opening. To explain, I knew that pumping would be difficult but I did not think of pumping as such a big deal and demanding on women’s bodies. Also, this quote made me realize the downfalls of being a working mom and pumping in our society and how pumping can be isolating to one’s career. I admire professional women who pump and are dedicated to their careers. All in all, this article highlighted the trials and tribulations of being a working mom in a patriarchal society.
-Jazsmine Towner

Fontez McNeal said...

This article enhanced my understanding of a woman's place in the business world. I already knew that there was inequality and that women faced more hardships than men. However, this article just made it more apparent with how there is a lack of empathy for women in business settings. There needs to be more women in the business and engineering fields so that they are not so misrepresented and so that their needs are better accommodated.