02 May A Waste of Talent
My husband subscribes to Bloomberg Businessweek. This magazine and I have a good thing going on. Like weekly clockwork: the magazine arrives, I thumb through, I focus on a fascinating article or two (or six), and a few minutes (or… longer) later, I feel rather amazed at the ingenuity of some of my fellow humans. Knowing this routine of mine—this expectation of curiosity and awe—I was taken aback with the front cover of a recent issue that was sitting innocently on my kitchen counter.
Now, I believe that women are just as capable business leaders as their men counter parts, in fact I think women can bring perspectives to the conference room table that men can’t. I’m grateful that our country has fought for the capability and opportunity of women. I fully believe in education, especially for women, and I think every woman, no matter their marital status or their plans to be stay-at-home-mothers, should have an education, training, or vocation to provide for themselves and their families if necessary.
But this article crossed a line for me. A renowned business magazine is not only giving this sort of intimate advice, but they blew it up all over their cover with a confident looking, successful white woman. It’s like they’re saying, “Here! You wanna play with the big boys? Go through expensive, invasive medical treatments to put your eggs on ice like bulk hamburger meat and then we will accommodate you!”
That being said, I am grateful for this technology. I can see the wonderful blessings that can arise from it when used appropriately, such as freezing eggs before chemotherapy, or early hysterectomy. And though I believe in the strength, love, and power that can come from getting married and building a life and family together, I can see why unmarried women who are the “latchkey kids of glass-ceiling breakers” (as the article so put it) would see this technology as a blessing. They want kids, haven’t found the right husband, were so focused on a career that they all of a sudden look around and realize they’re 39 years old and are running out of time for the family they wanted to have. I can understand their fear.
Still, I am angry that business leaders think they can dangle the carrot of promotion alongside the caveat of “but you’ll have to stall your God-given role and right to have and nurture a family.” What is that telling women? That their roles in society are secondary to trying to be like men? Think about it. That is not empowering women. That is degrading.
Recently, I watched a television episode of a popular law drama where a female associate lawyer decided to quit because she wanted to have a family. My applause at her courage quickly turned to frustration as her female boss somberly sighed and commented that it was a waste of talent. A waste of talent? What do you think will happen to our world when society tells us that raising a family is a waste?
I am an educated, intelligent woman. I do have ambitions to use my graduate school degree towards giving back to my community. But now, I am using my education to raise my children. Women have been charged with the role of nurturing future generations, and I embrace that role whole-heartedly and gratefully. My children bring me more joy, more growth, and yes…more patience, as I carefully nurture, teach, care for, and observe them. I learn things about life, the world, humankind, and frankly physics that could never be learned in the workplace. And my kids learn things from me and feel things from me that don’t necessarily come from a daycare worker.
I absolutely know that I can have more influence on this world by shaping my children into the best selves that they can be than I could have by going to work.
I have found that putting off a family for career reasons is the real waste of time and talents. Don’t let industry leaders, Hollywood, or misguided friends and family tell you otherwise.