Is the female pursuit of happiness essentially a setup?

3 Dec

Yesterday on Forbes Woman, Caroline Howard wrote a slightly depressing article on Why Being An Educated, Successful Woman On The Pill Is A Big Problem. Caroline sights two recent articles that paint a not-so-pretty picture about smart, educated, career-focused women:

  1. New York Magazine says: If you take the pill you gain control and infertility
  2. New York Times says: Female empowerment may be killing romance
  3. Economix blog on the New York Times says: Educated women are having fewer children or no children

I find Caroline’s article fascinating, and I appreciate her astuteness in pointing out some disturbing trends and opinions about  smart women in the media. So should all of us (educated, smart, career-focused women) just forget it already, and realize that the “battle” will never be won? Is the pursuit of happiness for women a setup? As the CEO of a tech company, as a woman who has never heard the word “no” or  the phrase “you can’t,” and as the mother of three young boys, I say F$%# the establishment. Screw the media. Whatever the trends may be, we as women are in control of our own destinies, both personal and professional. We need to just press on, and go full steam ahead. We can’t get caught up in whether or not our pursuit of happiness is a setup, and whether we need to re-define our happiness.

If a man doesn’t think a powerful woman is sexy, then the appropriate response is “bye, bye.” There are plenty of men out in the world who do appreciate a smart, motivated, powerful woman. Find those men and forget the others.

If the pill is causing infertility because we as women are waiting too long to have children, then I say Hallelujah to fertility drugs. Hurrah for medical advances that can help women have children later in life. Yeah for Clomid and in-vitro fertilization and all of that.

And if women feel pressured to have fewer children because of maternity leave issues, then stand up, be loud, be that squeaky wheel, and prove your worth to the company you work for. If a company doesn’t want to negotiate and give you the maternity leave you need and feel you deserve, then they don’t value you the way they should. Do you know what it takes in lost productivity and resources to hire a smart, key contributor? A lot more than three months salary.  Let’s change the maternity model and mentality. Maybe it means more working from home during the first three months and less “time off.”  Maybe it means nursing infants (three months and younger) should be allowed in the office. Maybe it means just re-thinking how motherhood and career come together. Regardless, I think we can all figure this out and stand up for each other. Let’s frame our own conversation — and not let the media do it for us.


One Response to “Is the female pursuit of happiness essentially a setup?”

  1. Sarah December 3, 2010 at 12:04 pm #

    One point you make that I completely support is getting more women engaged on the issue of maternity leave. I don’t think it’s too much to ask of successful companies that they treat their female employees with enough respect to allow them an appropriate amount of time with their newborn babies. The world will be a much healthier place for everyone if mothers and their babies get a chance to bond. I don’t think 3 months is enough. I think 6 months should be the minimum. Some companies pay partial pay not full pay, some companies offer job security but no pay. I’m not sure what the realistic solution is but for most women while FMLA may offer job protection for 12 weeks — a lack of pay during that period may make extended leave impossible. In California you can get some of your maternity leave compensated by a mix of baby bonding and short-term disability but this is only a percent of your regular. Another benefit that could be negotiated for women returning from maternity leave is flex time or part-time options. For some women working 3 long days might be preferrable to 5 eight or nine hour days leaving them home with a new baby 4 days a week. Whatever the solution, it’s something women might want to consider lobbying for – before they find themselves pregnant and facing an unfriendly maternity policy at their workplace.

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