TIME Workplace & Careers

Jury Clears Silicon Valley Firm in Sex Bias Suit

APTOPIX Silicon Valley Sexual Discrimination
Jeff Chiu—AP Ellen Pao, center, walks to Civic Center Courthouse in San Francisco, March 27, 2015.

A jury rejected claims made by Ellen Pao about Kleiner Perkins

A jury cleared venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins of gender discrimination in lawsuit by former employee Ellen Pao following a trial that has put a harsh light on the skewed demographics in Silicon Valley.

After three days of deliberations, the jury rejected allegations that Kleiner Perkins passed Pao over for a promotion and then fired her because of her gender. It also cleared the firm of Pao’s claims it had retaliated against her.

The verdict was a major victory for Kleiner Perkins, an early investor in companies like Google and Genentech. The trial had shed an unflattering light on internal bickering within the firm and big egos along with the negative image that comes with a high-profile sexism lawsuit.

“Today’s verdict reaffirms that Ellen Pao’s claims have no legal merit,” Kleiner Perkins said in a statement. “We are grateful to the jury for its careful examination of the facts.

“There is no question gender diversity in the workplace is an important issue. KPCB remains committed to supporting women in venture capital and technology both inside our firm and within our industry.”

For Ellen Pao, the jury’s decision marks a major blow. Speaking to reporters just after the verdict, she emphasized that despite the loss, she hoped her case may help other women and make companies think twice about how women are treated.

“I have told my story and thousands of people have heard it,” Pao said. “My story is their story. If I’ve helped to level the playing field for women and minorities in venture capital, then the battle was worth it.”

During more than four weeks of testimony in San Francisco Superior Court, attorneys for Pao and her former employer, blue-chip investment firm Kleiner Perkins, presented witnesses, emails and documents that portrayed widely different narratives of Pao’s career at the firm.

The trial, which has been closely followed in Silicon Valley and by the media, offered a rare and intimate window into the gender dynamics of one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent investment firms. The case has been particularly significant for the tech industry, which has long struggled with diversity.

Pao, who filed the gender discrimination lawsuit following a seven-year career at the firm, claimed that she had been overlooked for promotions in favor of men with less experience. She also described how she was excluded from all-male dinner parties, subjected to a bawdy discussions of porn and given an inappropriate gift of erotic poetry by a senior male colleague for Valentines Day.

In turn, Kleiner aggressively defended itself in court by painting Pao as a difficult employee who lacked the qualifications necessary to be a venture capitalist. Witness after witness from the firm contradicted Pao’s accounts of misbehavior or said she twisted the facts to make insignificant events seem like serious problems.

Much of the trial’s testimony focused on Pao’s performance and whether she should have been promoted. In making her case, Pao claimed responsibility for a number of successful investments and pointed to her good relationship with companies in which Kleiner had invested. Kleiner, on the other hand, said failed to build expertise — or “thought leadership” — and constantly bickered with colleagues.

Kleiner eventually fired Pao in 2012, shortly after she had filed her lawsuit. She is now interim CEO of online forum Reddit.

After the verdict, Steve Sammut, a juror in the trial, explained to the media that he and his peers had focused their deliberations, in part, on how Pao’s performance reviews. He said they supported the firm’s defense by showing that Pao got dinged for the same weaknesses year-after-year, suggesting she never improved on them. Meanwhile, performance of male colleagues seemed to show improvements. Their critiques varied year-to-year.

“For Pao’s reviews, we went back and looked for areas to improve and they tended to stay the same, for other individuals they tended to drop off,” Sammut said.

The trial also brought into question Kleiner’s workplace policies, or lack thereof. Pao’s side argued that the venture capital firm didn’t have a real harassment policy in place until 2012, and that the partners often got away with inappropriate behavior without being punished.

The verdicts did not go smoothly. Early in the afternoon, the jury came back with what it thought was a final decision. But the judge belatedly realized that the jury had miscounted its votes for one of four counts. The judge ordered the jury to return to deliberations over a remaining retaliation claim. They emerged about an hour and a half later with a decision on the final count.

This article originally appeared in Fortune.com

TIME Parenting

How to Talk to Your Kids About Scary News Events

Cheyenne Glasgow—Getty Images/Flickr Select

"It can be scarier not to talk about them.”

We all want to protect our kids from the hard truths of life. Nobody wants to explain why the plane went down in the Alps, why that kid did what he did on that ISIS video, or the symptoms of Ebola.

But if our kids don’t learn to face bad news eventually, they can’t thrive. So how does a parent walk that line?

Richard Weissbourd, a child and family psychologist on the faculty of Harvard’s School of Education, and the author of The Parents We Mean To Be, says what a lot of parents already know: there’s no easy answer.

But that makes it even more important to talk with kids about tough realities, Weissbourd says. “Kids are thinking about these things anyway. They’re seeing things on the news, and overhearing the things adults are saying. So it can be scarier not to talk about them.”

And every kid is different, Weissbourd says: they “vary in levels of anxiety, and vulnerability.” With his own kids, Weissbourd shared tough truths based on “who they are, and what I felt they could emotionally manage.”

Still, there are some rules of thumb parents can follow.

At elementary age, fairy tales that may seem grim to parents actually work for kids because, Weissbourd says, “they’re trying to get some mastery over those really deep fears.” But kids that age are also concrete thinkers. So it’s good to start with concrete answers. And it’s all right not to have all the answers. According to Weissbourd, the real goal is just to have the conversation.

By the time kids reach middle school, they’ll have seen a lot of troubling things for themselves. But “sometimes they understand much more and sometimes much less than we think,” Weissbourd says. So it’s important at this stage for parents to listen. Hearing what kids are wrestling with, and how they’re trying to make sense of it, is key.

By high school, parents can begin to explore the deeper questions with kids, looking not just at immediate problems, but at the underlying reasons for them–and what they might be able to do to make a difference. According to Weissbourd, research shows that people deal best with problems when they “convert passivity into activity.”

So that’s actually the most powerful response to tough realities at any age, Weissbourd says: finding something we can do to make a difference.

For the best parenting stories and advice every week, sign up for TIME’s weekly parenting newsletter by clicking here.

TIME Education

Racist Chant at Oklahoma University Was Ingrained by SAE Frat

The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.
Nick Oxford—AP The Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at the University of Oklahoma on March. 9, 2015.

The frat members learned the chant on a leadership cruise sponsored by the national SAE organization

The racist chant by members of a University of Oklahoma fraternity caught on video on March 7 was part of the institutional culture at the chapter, an investigation by the Office of Student Affairs at Oklahoma State University released Friday revealed.

The chant, which included at east one reference to lynching, was sung by fraternity members on a chartered bus on the way to the chapter’s annual Founder’s Day event in Oklahoma City.

The university took swift action after the video of the chant emerged, expelling two of the students caught singing it. Sigma Alpha Epsilon also quickly closed the chapter. As part of the university’s response, the student affairs office investigated the origins of the chant and determined it was an ingrained part of the life and culture of the SAE chapter at OU.

According to the investigation, members of the Oklahoma chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon learned the chant on a leadership cruise sponsored by the national SAE organization four years ago. The chant was then taught to pledges as part of the formal pledging process. As part of the chapter’s recruitment on Founder’s Day, about a dozen high school students were on the bus during the chant.

More: 3 Ways to Fix Fraternities

More: Civil Libertarians Say Expelling Oklahoma Frat Students May be Illegal

TIME career

Why Your Facial Expressions at Work Can Affect Your Career

office-worker-smiley-face
Getty Images

Expressions give others clues to how you’re feeling

What’s the first thing you notice about a person? It’s generally their facial expression. And when you meet someone for the first time, you’re likely to remember if they greeted you with a big grin or a disappointing sulk. First impressions do matter, and your facial expressions can affect how people perceive you. Dr. Alan Fridlund, professor at University of California Santa Barbara, says that expressions are inherently social; they give others clues to how you’re feeling.

Facial expressions can forecast how a person’s feeling: “The face is like a switch on a railroad track,” Fridlund says. “It affects the trajectory of the social interaction the way the switch would affect the path of the train.” Studies by Dr. Fridlund and others show that expressions “occur most often during pivotal points in social interactions; during greetings, social crises, or times of appeasement.” This is where your career may be affected. Because a facial expression can give insight into how a person feels, it may be influencing how you’re perceived at work. Here are three situations where showing your gut reaction through your facial expression may affect you in the workplace.

MORE What Your Office Body Language Says About You

1. Greeting Someone in the Office Who You Don’t Like

Our general reaction to someone we don’t like is shown directly through the expression our face makes. Dr. Fridlund says that “a scowl may impel them to stay clear.” This could let the person you’re talking to, as well as the people around you, know that you don’t like them and thus be detrimental to your working relationships. When you greet someone you don’t like, a slight smile is always better than a scowl or a frown. Remember that next time you say hello to a less-than-liked colleague.

2. Your Workload is Affected Due to an Unforeseen Event

You just got three more projects dumped onto your lap when a coworker decided to take a last minute vacation. Sulking with a furrowed brow will directly show that you don’t think you can handle the situation. Dr. Fridlund tells us that “a pout may elicit words of sympathy and reassurance.” While reassurance is nice, it shouldn’t be given by force. Furthermore, psychologist James Russell, PhD, of the University of British Columbia, argues “that facial expressions tell others something about the overall character of a person’s mood–whether it’s positive or negative–and context then provides details about specific emotions.” Managing your workload well (and asking for help when necessary) will lead to a variation of facial expressions, ensuring that you don’t appear incapable of handing extra work.

MORE 10 Simple Body Language Tricks That Will Do Wonders For Your Career

3. Receiving a Compliment on Something You Did Well

While a smile can be seen as pleasant in nature, it also may come across as smug. When given a complement on a well-completed project or task, say thank you, nod politely, and smile to acknowledge the positive comment. A long, flashy smile with all your teeth showing is overkill, especially at work. Gloating doesn’t bode well in the workplace.

This doesn’t mean you cannot experience varied emotions at work. All people have facial expressions, and we all sense things in different ways. All it means is that you should be aware of your facial expressions and how they’re affecting the opinions from those around you.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

TIME Education

3 Ways to Fix Fraternities

How to prevent problems before they start

Correction appended, March 27, 2015

It’s been a rough school year for fraternity bad-boy behavior.

A spate of high-profile incidents—and the swift response from national fraternity organizations and the universities themselves—suggest that the institutions responsible for these young men are becoming less inclined to say “boys will be boys.”

A video of members at the University of Oklahoma’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon chapter singing a racist chant went viral. Not long after, members of Penn State’s Kappa Delta Rho chapter were accused of sharing images of nude unconscious women on a Facebook page. And a notebook filled with racist and sexist slurs allegedly belonging to members of Pi Kappa Phi was found in a restaurant on campus at North Carolina State. The universities and national fraternities in charge of these men acted fast. SAE closed the University of Oklahoma chapter and two students were expelled, Penn State suspended the chapter in question and North Carolina State disbanded it all together.

MORE Civil Libertarians Say Expelling Oklahoma Frat Students May Be Illegal

But how can fraternities and universities prevent these problems in the first place? Here’s what experts told TIME.

Get rid of alcohol

When it comes to “going dry,” it’s easier for the national fraternities to make the change than it is for the host universities. In 1997, Phi Delta Theta announced plans to ban alcohol in every chapter house across the country by 2000. Skeptics said the move would hurt its ability to recruit new members. But the opposite has been true. Since the change, Phi Delta Theta has grown from 8,500 student members to over 12,000, according to Bob Biggs, the frat’s executive vice president. There have been other positive changes, too. The average GPA for members has gone from 2.7 to 3.1 and liability insurance costs have dropped by half, from $160 per person per year before 2000, to $80.

“We wanted to get out of the entertainment business and into the fraternity business,” Biggs said.

While private colleges can mostly make any policy they like, it can be more difficult for public universities to govern fraternities on campus. But it can happen. Colorado State University made changes to its alcohol policy at fraternities after 19-year-old sophomore Samantha Spady died of apparent alcohol-related causes at a fraternity house in 2004. Today, fraternity houses at Colorado State University are dry.

Bring in the adults

In most on-campus residential life, colleges typically have one staff member for every 15-20 students, according to Mark Koepsell, the executive director of the Association of Fraternity and Sorority Advisors. But when it comes to Greek life, the ratio is one staff member to every 750 students.

The reason for this may be that many colleges don’t want to assume the liability that comes with fraternities. “There’s [variation] across the country between campuses that pull fraternal organizations close and those that put them at an arms length distance,” Koepsell said. “Campus attorneys are of the belief that an arms length distance is better for reducing liability. My personal opinion is that’s the environment where problems occur and it blows back on the university anyway and no one wins. The first advice: Pull them in close.”

Koepsell prefers models like the “Greek Village” at the University of South Carolina, where frat and sorority students live in University-sponsored housing, which comes with more supervision.

But it’s also possible for national fraternities to spend more money themselves to ensure better staffing in the houses. In 2000, Sigma Phi Epsilon began creating Residential Learning Communities through some of its chapters, which now exist at 40 of the 227 chapters across the country. As part of this program, some chapters have what is called a resident scholar, a graduate student who gets free room and board and a stipend or a scholarship to live at the fraternity house and provide some structure for the students.

Integrate or eliminate

Eliminating fraternities or allowing women to join is not an option at public universities where students have the First Amendment right to associate. But private schools have more leeway. Last year, Wesleyan ordered its fraternities to admit women. It is now facing a lawsuit from Delta Kappa Epsilon trying to block the move. The case is being closely watched.

Read next: Dartmouth Investigates Frat for Branding Pledges

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled the first Greek word in the fraternity chapter at North Carolina State. The correct fraternity is Pi Kappa Phi.

TIME motherhood

Egyptian Woman Who Lived as a Man to Find Work Honored with Motherhood Award

Sisa Abu Daooh, a woman who passed for a man for decades while working as a shoeshine, in Luxor, Egypt, on March 25, 2015.
Bryan Denton–The New York Times/Redux Sisa Abu Daooh, a woman who passed for a man for decades while working as a shoeshine, in Luxor, Egypt, on March 25, 2015.

Sisa Abu Daooh dressed as a man for 42 years

An Egyptian woman who was forced to live as a man in order to support her daughter was recently awarded the country’s highest award for motherhood.

Sisa Abu Daooh has been dressing as a man for 42 years in order to find work after her husband died. “I worked in Aswan wearing pants and a galabeya,” she told the New York Times. “If I hadn’t, no one would have let me work.”

Daooh was forced to dress as a man not as an expression of gender identity, but because otherwise she would have been unable to find work. In the early 1970s, when her husband’s death left Daooh and her daughter destitute, it was extremely difficult for women to find paid work. For seven years, she worked as a manual laborer making less than a dollar a day before finding less physically demanding work. She now works as a shoe-shiner.

When Daooh’s husband died, it was almost unheard of for Egyptian women to work, but even today, very few Egyptian women participate in the labor force—only 26%, compared to 79% of men, according to the World Economic Forum. If women and men participated equally, Egypt’s GDP would increase by 34%, according to an analysis conducted by the Clinton Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Between the lack of economic opportunity, the prevalence of female genital mutilation, and the near-universal experience sexual harassment (over 99% of women say they’ve been harassed,) Thompson-Reuters voted Egypt the worst place in the Arab world to be a woman.

[h/t New York Times]

TIME advice

5 Things I Wish I Knew Before Starting My First Job

graduation-tassel-cap-gown
Getty Images

Post-grad life is so much more than just that title on your business card

Second semester is settling in, and now’s the time that college seniors usually spend breaking out in stress acne, exhausting the “apply now” button on LinkedIn, and binge eating donuts. These things, for the record, are completely normal, or at least things that consumed my second semester senior year.

I was determined to graduate with a full-time position to kickstart my professional career. But I graduated unemployed, and I crafted during those two weeks between my graduation and my formal offer. I crafted a lot. But, here I am almost a year later in a first big kid job. Post-grad life is so much more than just that title on your business card. So, here are five things I wish someone had told me about living life after turning the tassel:

1. How to get a professional wardrobe, stat.

I had two pairs of dress pants in my closet, a plethora of cardigans, and a job offer at an investment firm. I was supposed to start two weeks after my offer and I needed a wardrobe upgrade: fast. And cheap. But not one that screamed it. I wanted my power outfit, and luckily there were cost-effective and cute ways to achieve this. I hit up clearance racks at Express, the Limited, and Kohls and was able to come out with four pairs of dress pants for under $50 total. As my paychecks began rolling in, I was able to add more than just those basics to my closet, which now makes mornings easier since I have a closet with options!

MORE The 5 Most Inspiring Graduation Speeches Of The Decade

2. How to converse with people your parents age (and older).

Suddenly, I was surrounded by coworkers in stages of life far past mine. I was in a place where my guilty pleasure of One Direction didn’t fit, and I was hearing references from a time far before I was even a glimmer in my mother’s eye. Getting stuck in an elevator with one of these people seemed terrifying. And then, they became humanized. Just older humans. It’s all about finding a middle ground, asking about weekend plans, family, and the construction on the way to work. But, what’s even more important, and far more flattering, is remembering what they said and asking about their daughter’s recital or the family barbecue the next time you see them. Everyone loves to be heard, regardless of their stage in life.

3. How to get into a daily routine.

Real life, although it can be crazy, is a true wake up call for a daily routine. Determining a bedtime can make or break your next morning. Getting a good night sleep lets your boss know that you take your job seriously, and it keeps you accountable to putting your best foot forward. Walking into work ready to start the day can keep you efficient and happy until you walk out. That coveted “nap whenever” culture of college has to change, and it’s vital to a successful launch into the professional workplace.

4. How to balance work life and personal life.

This is a challenge I have yet to master. On one hand, our passion and drive an eager young professional can set us apart. On the other hand, it’s just a job, and it’s the first time in our lives when we even have the option of separating our lives. So far in my career, I’ve found that avoiding checking work email on weekends and at home has been a healthy way of doing this. It’s ok to check your email in the morning to see what needs priority when you get to work, but don’t set another place at the dinner table for your phone. Nights are about rest, and weekends are about rest. Coming into work rejuvenated and energized can have many benefits, far more than the attitude of work taking over every moment of our lives.

MORE 5 Thoughts That Go Through A Soon-To-Be Graduate’s Mind

5. How not to compare.

Comparison makes you second guess yourself. Comparison makes you stop setting goals and prevents you from celebrating milestones. So, stop. It’s your journey, so embrace it. The opportunities you took were yours and only yours. The pace you get promoted is the pace intended for you, so do your career path your way. As long as you work hard and take steps toward your dream career, you’re living the dream.

Seeking a career mentor or frequenting your post-grad resources (like Levo!) can really help you feel more comfortable in your new big kid shoes, and less alone in the hustle of adulthood. It may seem intimidating (it still seems that way to me), but it’s also exciting! So enjoy your last few donuts, mid-day naps, and turn your tassel with confidence!

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

TIME movies

Can a Movie Help Stop Bullying-Related Suicide? A Girl Like Her Tries

The movie uses a faux-documentary style to show what's really going on in American schools

Correction appended, March 26

When a girl named Jessica attempts suicide in the new film A Girl Like Her, everyone at school points the finger of blame at Avery, a popular clique leader who’s been hounding her for months. And since Jessica was wearing a hidden camera to document her daily indignities, there’s plenty of proof of Avery’s cruelty.

As the above clip shows, Avery could give Regina George a run for her money in the mean girl department. But the movie isn’t a witch hunt. In fact, viewers may leave the film more concerned about therapy for bullies than for the bullied.

Writer and director Amy S. Weber (who also plays the filmmaker in the pseudo-documentary) says the plot has been on her mind for decades, but she took direct inspiration from the death of Phoebe Prince, an Irish high school student who was bullied mercilessly when she moved to Massachusetts and took her own life in 2010. Her tormentors were prosecuted on charges ranging from harassment to assault.

“We as a society have learned that people who project their pain, people who abuse, are monsters,” says Weber. “When they hurt others, our innate response and reaction is to protect the one they’re hurting.” Of course, it’s right to protect the innocent. But when it comes to teen bullying, it’s easy to forget that the bullies are often in pain themselves.

A Girl Like Her hints at Avery’s torment through awkward encounters with her self-involved mother and unresponsive father. Meanwhile, Jessica’s parents are completely blindsided by her overdose—they had no clue she was being bullied. Weber is careful not to blame parents for these tragedies, but she says she hopes the film will start conversations among teens and parents alike about how adults contribute to the bullying epidemic.

Witnessing bullying, as one student explains in the movie, is “as if we were all zebras and we were watching one of our fellow zebras being eaten by a lion.” A Girl Like Her provides a potent remember that, bully or victim, they’re all zebras.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of the character in A Girl Like Her who attempts suicide. It is Jessica.

TIME Love

Meet the Jewish Matchmaker of Your Mother’s Dreams

Erin Davis The logo for Shabbatness is a Challah-shaped heart.

Inspired by her grandmother's Holocaust survival, Erin Davis wants to set up Jewish singles — without anyone having to swipe left or right

I’m sitting in a Manhattan apartment watching the sun set with 11 of New York’s most eligible Jewish singles. It’s Friday night and the table is a traditional Shabbat setting—a Kiddush cup filled with red wine, freshly-blessed candles and challah bread that’s been ripped apart and passed around the table. The crowd is hushed as Erin Davis a 30-year-old, waif-like blond, our host for the night, announces it’s time for ice breakers, where we’ll read funny and ironic facts about each other and guess who it could be.

Later I’ll leave after arranging a date with an adorable man handpicked by Davis whom my mother would kvell—ahem, gush—over. This is “Shabatness,” an invite-only service that sets up young Jewish professionals over Shabbat dinners.

Davis is quite rare, a matchmaker who does things the artisanal way, setting up singles through dinner parties, not apps or algorithms. She started hosting at least one Shabbat dinner a month in 2013. “I felt there was a void in the Jewish community of Shabbat dinners in intimate homes,” she says. “ And I realized it was an ideal environment for singles to meet each other.”

She interviews singles and promises those selected for the dinner a potential partner, a night of unlimited alcohol and a meal, at her apartment or one of the guests’ who chooses to host, all for just $36—a division of 18, or chai in Hebrew, a lucky number in Judasim—The idea became a business when Davis applied and received a fellowship through PresenTense, a social entrepreneurial program with a focus on the Jewish community. Davis got access to mentors, donors and business classes to put her vision in place.

Labe Eden, a committee member at PresenTense who has attended a few Shabbatness dinners, says he was struck by Davis and her idea from the get go. He explains it as a more wholesome experience than dating at a bar. “You don’t have to necessarily impress anybody. You get to be you,” he says.

The idea could seem old school—but each dinner has its own special twist. One dinner was called Bourbon and Beatbox, where American Idol contestant and special guest Jay Stone beatboxed the Shema, a prayer from the Torah. One night it was Magic and Macarons, where a Jewish magician performed and macarons were served for dessert. Another called Shabbat in the Sky was held in a 52nd-floor penthouse in New York’s financial district. And her next one will feature only male homosexual couples.

Even with modern traditions, the core of the evening is Judaism. Davis’ inspiration comes from her own grandmother, Rose Goldberg, who survived the holocaust in hiding after being sent to the ghettos of Wladimir Wolynsk in Poland. “I used to think she was just this old-school sweet Polish lady,” Davis says. But after traveling Europe and researching the genocide, she felt it a strong pull toward preserving Jewish heritage and rituals.

And it’s a heritage that’s getting diluted. A 2013 PEW study revealed that the percentage of U.S. adults who say they are Jewish when asked about their religion has been cut by about half since the late 1950s. And more than half of Jewish Americans have married a non-Jewish spouse.

“The studies disturb me, and there are small things to do to keep the tradition alive but make it our own,” she says. And the recent rise of anti-Semitism across Europe is especially troubling to her, even thought it’s not prevalent in New York.

“It’s a huge passion of mine to take a direct role in stopping [anti-Semitism,]” she says. “A lot of it goes back to my grandma’s story. It’s inspired me to do whatever I can to continue the tradition and to modernize Shabbats to make them for the times today.

Davis incorporates bits of tradition into each dinner she hosts, whether it’s a group of modern Orthodox Jews or, what’s more common, a group of Secular ones. (At the dinner I attended, fewer than half the group could read Hebrew.)

There are small touches of Jewish customs like her logo, a heart-shaped Challah bread, and the business’ name, “Shabbatness.” Nes means miracle in Hebrew, Davis says. “So my mom said: ‘What about the miracle of Shabbat?’”

A handful of miracle couples have come out of her dinners—and one marriage is on the way. My own experience after Shabatness resulted in a handful of dates, a very classic courtship, and a typical falling out of disinterest by both parties—but it was a better match for me than any tech-assisted dating I’ve tried. Apps have taken dating and turned it into a giant game of hot-or-not, where choices are endless and real relationships are few and far between.

Sure, JDate is popular and apps like Tinder and Hinge are growing, but that has consequences.

“The larger a pool of potential dates you have, the more the paradox of choice causes people to freeze up,” says Ori Neidich, one of Davis’ PresenTense mentors. “Erin has tapped into a need, you still have to meet people in person no matter what because that kind of chemistry can never be imitated by technology.”

Old-school matchmaking is making inroads onto the scene for the crowd of those sick of swiping their phones to no end. Aside from Davis’ Shabbat model, there are others trying to reinvent the process. Train Spottings uses matchmakers, known as ‘conductors,’ who scope the New York City Subway scene for singles to match with clients. And San-Francisco-based Dating Ring, available in multiple cities, assigns users with personal matchmakers, only syncing up matches with permission from both users. There’s also Married at First Sight, a reality series about couples who agree to marry a complete stranger selected ‘scientifically.’

Patti Stanger, whose 8th season of Bravo’s Millionaire Matchmaker premiered in December thinks that Davis is on to something as “religion is the number one deal breaker” in relationships.

“You don’t just have to do it for Shabbat, there can be Christian dinners, Muslim dinners,” Stanger says. “There are ways to do this for any type of common interest.”

Davis has a long way to go before the company is truly ringing in a profit. Her goal is to make it a 501(c)(3), a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization similar to the Birthright Israel Foundation.

“I’ve seen the passion behind birthright donors and the sustenance of Jewish practice and the formation of Jewish couples,” Davis says.

Davis’ grandparents, who met in hiding from the Nazis, were married for more than 40 years until her grandfather’s death in 1990.

“As I got older and moved to New York, I started getting closer to [my grandmother,]” Davis says, noting that all Grandma Roza wants is for her children and their children to marry Jewish people and continue the traditions.

“There are seven grandkids and seven great grandkids, which she wants many more of as soon as possible!” Davis says, laughing. “My last Shabbatness was called “Shabubbe,” she explains her play on the word Bubbe, Yiddish for grandmother. The group of singles honored Grandma Roza’s 90th birthday by eating Polish food with pictures of her all around. “It was very sentimental.”

Read next: Watch a Passover-Themed A Cappella Parody of ‘Uptown Funk’

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