Monday, June 28, 2010

Can women be both great mothers and successful career women?

I read an article written by Daniel Lippman titled “More American women not having children: report” and felt a bit disturbed afterward. Personally, I believe that a woman’s reproductive organs are her own and the right to bear children or be barren is completely hers. I don’t represent some archaic belief system that strips women of their reproductive choice or sees children as necessary to validate a woman’s worth. However, I personally love children, feel even difficult ones have redeeming qualities, and refuse to willing leave this earth without one of my own. I’m sorry; I don’t necessarily understand why a woman wouldn’t want to have children. It’s not my place to judge or question and I generally don’t. But,The story above gets under my skin for a couple of reasons. Childlessness is becoming a trend and the article blames it on; children not being seen as necessary for a successful marriage, education, and career goals. However, I completely disagree and urge everyone to peel back the layers, and investigate the workforce environment which forces women to choose between motherhood and achieving career success in the 21st century.

Education shouldn't be a reason a woman doesn’t have children. It’s been proven that educated mothers have children who have higher cognitive abilities, are better behaved, increased vocabulary, and are more likely to encourage their children to seek higher education. Female education ensures many inter – generational benefits. So, I’m confused as to why higher – educated women overall are less likely to have children because of how it benefits our community and future generations. The only logical solution is to seek out the correlation between being an educated woman with a career and determine how bearing / raising children relates to her life. The article points out “Economist believes that women have more to gain economically from prioritizing their career compared to less educated women. They also tend to marry later and postpone childbearing compared to less educated women.

“According to High – Achieving Women, 2001, between 33 percent and 43 percent of women are childless at ages 41-55 - only 14 percent of them by choice. The percentages are even higher amongst women of color. In addition, the study found that large numbers of highly qualified mothers opt out of the labor market completely. The result; too many women are forced to sacrifice; either family or career. Only a small portion of women feel that it’s likely that they can “have it all” in terms of career and family but feel that men fare better on this front

The findings in Daniel Lippmann’s article based on the Census Bureau's Current Population Survey supports the High – Achieving women’s study. High - achievers are defined as those who earn $ 55,000 -$ 65,000 depending on age, Ultra - achievers are defined as those earning over $100,000. High potential women are highly qualified women who left their careers for family reasons (younger group age between 28-40 and older group 41-55).

The results are as follows; the more successful the women , the longer her hours ( 50+ per week ), part time careers are not currently available for women wanting to get back to work after expanding the family, women who maintain their careers and joined companies which offers work/life benefits and utilize these benefits recognize that chances of getting promoted are slim to none, Only 60 percent of high achieving women in the older group are currently married ( figure falls to 57 percent in corporate America versus 76 percent of older men and 83 percent among the ultra achievers), 33 percent of high achieving women are childless at ages 41-55 ( 42 percent in corporate America and 43 percent in academe versus 25 percent of high achieving men and 19 among ultra achieving men), 29 percent of high achieving African American in the older group were married in 2001 ( 48 percent of African American high achieving women are childless at ages 41-55), 55 percent of the younger women were childless at age 35 versus the 38 percent of older women who were childless at that point, women still take prime responsibility for the home and children - earning powers has no affect even where wives earn $100,000 per year ( only 8 percent of husbands take prime responsibility for helping with homework, and 4 percent take prime responsibility for cleaning the house), child free employees often resent parent “ perks”, few high achieving women believe they can have it all (16 percent, women think men have it better and 39 percent feel men can have it all), and women entrepreneurs do a better job balancing their lives than women in corporate America ( self employed high achieving women are less likely to be childless than women in corporate America , women lawyers, doctors and professors(22 percent versus 42 in the older group) and are 10 percent more likely to get married. – Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s “creating a life”

It appears that society hasn’t adjusted to the strides women have made in the 21st century and reproduction (family) is suffering as a result. I think it’s important that companies maintain and encourage a work/life balance. In days past, when men were the sole providers and primary bread winner this mindset made sense, since there was someone running the household - usually a woman. As a nation we are trying to move toward equality where everyone is treated equally regardless of gender, race, and sexual orientation. If that’s truly the case shouldn’t we modify the rules of workplace? I don’t want to have to choose between having a baby and being successfully Nor should I because I have so much to contribute to the world as do many other beautiful, smart, talented women. Women we need to raise our voices and speak against inequality or be forced to make impossible choices.

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