Female execs and professionals tell Moneyish how important the ability to plan when they had kids was to their climbing the career ladder
Don’t treat this issue with kid gloves.
Being able to time when they have kids is essential for women to advance at work, especially for the women who are breaking the glass ceiling. Indeed, 86% of executive women — and 75% of working women — say that their ability to plan if and when to have children has been important for the ability to pursue their professional and career goals, according to a poll of 1,500 diverse women by Business Forward. What’s more, 90% of women (and 92% of exec women) say that it would be challenging for a woman to achieve her professional goals if she became a parent unexpectedly.
Just ask Keisha Taylor, the 39-year-old senior vice president of consumer and integrated marketing at sports marketing giant Learfield, who hasn’t yet had kids. “I’ve always said this: I’d rather be in a senior level when I have children because I will have more of a voice. In your 20s, you don’t always have the track record [to get to dictate your schedule and get other family-friendly perks], the choice in how you manage your time,” she tells Moneyish. “I don’t know how I would have managed if I’d had a kid in my 20s.”
And Taylor says that the option to freeze her eggs — she recently had her first consultation to do so — has given her more freedom to continue to build her career as she looks for a partner. “I want a family very much — it’s near and dear to my heart” as is her career, she tells Moneyish. “This [egg freezing] has given me the option to have both.”
Journalist Brienne Walsh, 35 — who has written for the New York Times, Architectural Digest and Forbes — says she might never have gone to graduate school or been able to fulfill her dream of becoming a writer had she had her now two-year-old daughter earlier. “I had to take out almost $60,000 in loans [for grad school], and that is money I know I would no longer be able to spend on myself now that I have a daughter. I would feel too guilty,” she tells Moneyish.
She adds that she “wouldn’t have been as successful as a writer” either. “I wouldn’t have had the time to really work at my writing … At the beginning of my career, I would sometimes take 12 hours to write a 500 word piece,” she says. “Now, I can pound them out because I’m experienced, and I know what I’m doing. I often think of Malcolm Gladwell saying that it takes 10,000 hours to become proficient at something, and I was only able to put 10,000 hours into writing because I had no other responsibilities.”
Like Taylor and Walsh, many moms we spoke to agreed that it was important that they be able to plan — and often at least slightly delay — when they had kids to help advance their careers. No doubt, they’re aware of the unfortunate career issues they may face when they do have children. Between October 2010 and September 2015, about 31,000 pregnancy discrimination charges were filed with the U.S. Equal Opportunity Commission — and thousands more women face pregnancy discrimination or pregnancy-related career issues who don’t report it.
One of them was Brayloa CEO Orit Hashay, who was trying to get funding for her e-commerce bra startup while she was several months pregnant. “The biggest challenge I was faced with was getting investors to take me seriously while I was pregnant. They liked my ideas, but they seemed preoccupied with the prospect of me entering motherhood and how it might change my priorities,” she tells Moneyish. “Some advisors and potential investors asked me if I’d want to revisit this conversation when was I ‘less occupied.’ They suggested I wait.” (She didn’t wait, got funding elsewhere, and in 2016 the company hit $10 million in revenue.)
Of course, plenty of women who have kids really early in their careers go on to break the glass ceiling and achieve great things. The important factor is that women get to choose when they want to do it and that companies do what they can to make sure pregnant women and mothers are treated fairly.“Every woman should have the right to do what’s best for her when it comes to both having a career and having a family,” says Hashay.
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