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[Workaholics] || [MOTHER KNOWS BEST] || [Balancing business & baby] || [at-home moms] || [Home Work] || [Flexible work styles] || [The Happy Home Office] || [Teleworking]

A wife and a mother of four small children, the Evanston, Ill., resident knows how to get maximum mileage from new technologies, using them to add value to her busy life. Recently she and several former co-workers from her days at U.S. Robotics founded Ucentric Systems, a tech start-up in the home server/Internet appliance area.

Ms. Ryan is the founding chairwoman of the human resources group of the American Electronics Association's Midwest region and the " list mom" for Chicago Women in Technology (ChicWit), an e-mail list- serv. She's also the co-founder of NOVA, a professional opera company.

Q: You seem to represent the idea that women can play a major role in the emerging world of e-commerce as both entrepreneurs and consumers.

A: One of the reasons I started the ChicWit list is that I felt like I kind of had a foot in two worlds. One was the high-tech, go- go-go business world that included the women that I knew from U.S. Robotics and the American Electronics Association. Women were jumping on the train and traveling all over and making deals.

And then all these other women that I knew in Evanston and other suburbs who are moms - brilliant, smart, with good ideas, exposed to the world - but they've chosen not to work full time. And I'm seeing them on the playground and for coffee and at preschool, and I'm thinking, "You know, this is insane because these really tied-in, working-80- hours-a-week women should get to know these other women."

They could use them as resources and, so far, through ChicWit, we've set up at least five or six relationships where some of these moms who are off of the mainstream track are doing part-time assignments or consulting assignments, using their probably 10 or 15 years of business experience that they had before they had kids. Especially now, with these new media and e-commerce opportunities, you can work from home, you can work at 3 in the morning. And everybody's benefiting.

Q: So you think the Internet lifestyle works well for women trying to balance work and family life.

A: Absolutely. In fact if I hadn't [started] Ucentric, I definitely knew I wasn't going to work in a company again because I can't put on a suit and go down on the train and be someplace at 8 o'clock. There's no way. I've got a baby, a kid going to preschool. I've got music stuff going on. So it took that shift. It's ironic. I was working those hours when I had my third child. The first year after he was born, I think I was in Europe six times. It was nuts. So thank goodness for the Internet and the economy shift that came with it. You can work, you can be useful, you can get your good ideas integrated and be home.

Q: The shift came at the right time. Just when the debate on women and the work force and trying to balance home and family started to be a major topic, along comes the Internet, giving women new options.

A: Absolutely. And women who are interested in looking at some of these opportunities should join ChicWit.

Q: How can they join?

A: Our e-mail address is cwit@

Q: We should probably clarify that name. It sort of sounds like we're calling women "chicks."

A: Well, that's true. That's why the official name is CWIT - it' s Chicago Women in Technology. Of course, we're not . . .

Q: You're not chicks.

A: [Laughing] We're not bimbos or anything. It's the idea that you can laugh at the double entendre and say we're very serious women, but we have a sense of humor.

Q: OK. Explain what a list-serv is.

A: It's a way to communicate quickly with a large group of connected people who have great resources. Let's say I have a business issue, I need a vendor recommendation. With this list, you can send an e- mail to more than 300 people [CWIT's current membership] who will know something and get the answers back in two hours.

Q: It's a way of networking that eliminates the hassle of driving to some location, trying to find parking and standing around in high heels.

A: Exactly right. And you don't even know, if you go to one of those events, if you're going to meet the person who has what you want.

Q: You're the "list mom" for ChicWit. What does that mean?

A: On the list-serv sites, that's the terminology that is used. A list mom could be a guy. It's just like a den mother. If there are any problems, [the list mom] sorts them out; they make sure people' s subscriptions work properly, put people on and off the list and promote the list.

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

    Cassandra West / Chicago Tribune, A new way to connect at-home moms. , The Dallas Morning News, 12-01-1999, pp 5C

[Workaholics] || [MOTHER KNOWS BEST] || [Balancing business & baby] || [at-home moms] || [Home Work] || [Flexible work styles] || [The Happy Home Office] || [Teleworking]


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