As a 25 year old woman, reasonably established in my career, finished with formal education (which includes a master’s, thank you very much), and owning my own home, if I became pregnant unexpectedly I would not automatically have an abortion. Although my opinion on this fluctuates from day to day, week to week, I would say that deciding to have the baby and raising it runs decent odds. This stage in my life, however, has not dimished my emphatic conviction that I need to have abortion as an option available to me.
One of the biggest concerns to me as a professional woman, working in finance, is the wage gender gap – women are paid less than men for the same work, and they are not promoted at the same rate or given the same opportunities for advancement as their male colleagues. The Catalyst Organization recently released a report that followed MBA graduates over the past 20 or so years of their careers, and found that the glass ceiling is very much still in effect.
Part of why women are stymied in our reach for the top? From the moment we are hired we are seen as likely to drop out of the workforce at some point, to have children, possibly returning only part time or not at all. Would you promote a risk like that? Send someone as risky as that to an expensive conference? I argue constantly on my blog, Life: Forward, in person, to friends, family, colleagues, and anyone who will listen that this is an absurd assumption. There are stay at home dads, daycare options at large corporations, nannies for the truly well compensated, etc. I don’t have any children, and I may never have children – should I be penalized?
Now, at some point many of the women reading this and writing this may choose to have children – I hope to – but how can I possibly argue that my uterus isn’t a liability if I can’t even control what happens if I do get pregnant? If I get pregnant at a critical time in my career, or while posted overseas, and I require bedrest to maintain the pregnancy? How can I justify women earning the same as men if we come with a risk of a minimum 6 week absence from the office?
Having a child should be a choice, a decision made consciously in consideration of all factors – not a risk that you can’t buy insurance for or a potential handicap that will weigh you down even if it never is activated.