This article originally appeared in the second issue of Disgraceful Magazine, which you can download here.
Back in the 1910s, women began to work. Men were off at war and so women had to take their place working in the postal service, factories and on the railroads.
Before 1928, women weren’t given the opportunity to vote. Women stayed at home, raised a family and looked after the house.
Thankfully, times have changed a lot since then.
Women can vote, run for office and even become the Vice President of America or the Prime Minister of the UK.
Will a woman one day be President of the United States? I sure think so.
Women in the workplace
Women have also taken their place in the boardroom. We aren’t quite there yet when it comes to equality at the top level, but we have made great progress.
We have so many women CEOs and business leaders that we can look up to. We have amazing sportswomen and entertainers that we can aspire to emulate.
When we even think of the global pandemic and how our world leaders took charge, we only have to look at Jacinda Arden of New Zealand, Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan and Sanna Marin of Finland; all great women leaders who restored order and normality to their countries.
Their male world leader counterparts on the other hand… well.
And so, when it comes to running the world, running the boardroom, or working your way to the top, does a choice have to be made?
Do we have to make a decision of whether to choose to have a family, or pursue a top-level job? Or is there room for both?
Can we as women, have it all?
What can be a controversial conversation to have with many opposing opinions, even in 2021, it sometimes has to be addressed as to whether there is bias from those at the top at the progress of women into higher positions.
Every country and culture is different when talking about this subject and it can be quite a difficult topic to discuss.
I cannot speak for the personal reasons, opinions or choices of the women that I will use an example, but from an outsider, I look at these amazingly successful women that don’t have kids and ask whether this is a sacrifice made in order to be successful.
If I was to take 9-12 months of maternity leave, once, twice or even three times during my working career (equating to almost three years of time off) would this hinder me from rising through the ranks and becoming a leader in my company?
I look at the success of Glamour Magazine Editor-in-Chief Samantha Barry and admire her career in journalism and her rise to Editor-in-Chief of one of my favourite magazines.
I look at Oprah, Stevie Nicks, and Theresa May who are majorly successful in their careers and once ran the UK government – all without children.
Celebrity Chef, Rachel Ray has been open about her choice to not have kids saying in an interview with Salon in 2009,
“I think that I’m 40 years old, and I have an enormous amount of hours that have to be dedicated to work. For me personally, I would need more time to feel like I’d be a good mom to my own child. I feel like a borderline good mom to my dog. So I can’t imagine if it was a human baby … I feel like it would be unfair, not only to the child but to the people I work with.”
But then we only need to look at Indra Nooyi, Anna Wintour, Beyonce, and Serena Williams, who all run their own worlds and are successful in their chosen fields.
Maybe we can have a family and be successful in our careers.
However, one of Indra Nooyi’s children wrote her a letter when aged 4 while she was CEO of PepsiCo that read, “Dear mom, Please, please, please, please please come home. I love you, but I’d love you more if you came home.”
Do we really have time for that?
Is there a ‘perfect time’ to have a family? Is it best to start a family when you are only starting out in your career?
Should Indra Nooyi have had children young and then decided many years later to become the CEO of PepsiCo, the opportunity may not have arose.
Life doesn’t work that way. We cannot plan our life to the exact moment and structure it so that we will be promoted and have children just when the time aligns.
If I was succeeding in a management position, aiming to be promoted to a senior level position or even Director-level and then fell pregnant, what would happen?
I would then have to let my boss know that I’m going to be taking 9-12 months off of work to look after my new-born child. Will he (or she) then overlook me for promotion? Will things be the same when I return to my job in a years’ time?
From my personal work experience, four of the five senior managers and directors I worked under were without children and seemingly married to their job. This is the reason I started to think whether there was a choice to be made when it came to a career and a family.
Does a bad mother choose her career over her child?
What happens if a woman chooses a full-time career over being a full-time mother?
Does it mean that they love their child/children less? Of course it doesn’t.
It doesn’t make anyone a bad mother, or lacking of love.
For a lot of families, the women are the breadwinners, single mothers and need to work to pay the bills. Some mothers strive for a successful career and to leave a legacy for their children and so have the capability to work and care for their children.
As women, we shouldn’t have to make a decision between wanting a successful career and wanting to raise a family.
In 2021, there is no room for discrimination and sexism in the working world.
Working women of the future
Today, we have more female entrepreneurs and business-owners than ever. Does having our own business, choosing our own hours and working on our own time make it easier to have a family and have a successful career?
Will the introduction of more working from home opportunities and flexible working hours make it easier for women to rise through the ranks and have a family, or should the office already be adaptable for women who also have a family?
Going into the working world, a woman shouldn’t have to make the decision between wanting to start a family and wanting to become the CEO of her company.
As women, we should be able to have the experiences of family and being the business leader that we have always wanted.
We no longer live in a world where women can’t vote or work, we live in a world where women can be world leaders, CEOs and build their own empires.
As women, we can have it all and we must not settle for anything less than what we deserve – kids, or no kids.