Almost 2 million women without kids in the US aged 40 to 44, 27% of women with advanced degrees without kids. A Pew study this year shows that nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s. And it is similar in other parts of the world like the UK where one in five women “stays childless because of modern lifestyle.” Some 42 per cent of childless women in the study were in professional or managerial occupations compared to only 30 per cent of mothers.
But we never get recognized in the corporate world. It’s not like we all decided not to have children. If you start looking at the statistics around those who are unable to bear children or women, like me, who have been married (and divorced) but had a deeper relationship with their career than their husbands, you will find that the percentage is also growing. But at work, all you hear about are working mothers and their challenges (and I respect all working mothers whether at home or at the office). There is a lot of rhetoric also around work life-balance, which is a total myth. There is work. There is life. It’s up to each one of us to make our priorities. Balance is a fantasy.
And at sales conferences when a CEO sits at the corner of the stage, leans in and asks everyone: “what will you tell your grandchildren about your life? You can tell them that you worked for a company that changed the world.” <sigh for so many reasons>
The reason most relevant here is I will have no grandchildren <another sigh>. I will tell them nothing and if I did have them, I would not talk about work as being my most meaningful reason for being.
And as the Inclusion and Diversity community ticks the box of accomplishments, the childless women are leaving the big corporations to find more meaning in their work and lives. They realize they are caught in bias and exclusion and they can do something about it. We don’t want to be yet another initiative that is delegated to some executive handler. We are tried of the rhetoric and know we have a choice to live our lives in a way that suits our beliefs. And some of us wish we had the children but decide to simply move on and deal with the cards that are on the table.