The NY Times wrote an interesting article a few days ago about young women attending Ivy League schools who aspire to become full-time mothers.
Of course, all of these women plan to pursue careers in the workforce, thanks to their very expensive educations, and many of them plan to continue their very expensive educations in law school, medical school, etc.
And, eventually, many of these highly educated, well trained women plan to drop out of the full-time workforce to raise their children.
On one hand, I think this is great news! Women should be able to choose which career paths and child-care arrangements fit best for the woman and for her family. If a woman wants to practice law for a few years, and then leave work to raise a family, more power to her. I think it’s wonderful that this article seems to imply that women are respected for their choices and their commitment to their family – even if it means sacrificing a high powered career as an attorney or a doctor.
But, on the other hand, I’m not so sure that young women with expensive educations from the world’s most exclusive schools who aspire to be mothers and drop out of the workforce should be unconditionally encouraged in this choice.
For example, if I take one of the seats in the incoming class at Harvard Business School, or Harvard Law School, with a plan to work for only five or six years before leaving to care for a family, what are the consequences of denying this seat to an equally capable person who is planning on working forty or fifty years, and who would be able to use Harvard’s reputation and brand name to become the world’s most effective crusader for civil rights? (or, if you’re not a huge fan of civil rights, then say this person found a cure for cancer, or whatever you think the most pressing concern facing the world today is).
I guess my main concern after reading this article is that with so many capable women leaving the workforce, more women will forgo the opportunity to become a U.S. Senator or CEO of a Fortune 100 company, or the president of the United States. I think this country needs women at the highest echelons in business and in public service. But women who get to this level pay a huge sacrifice (granted, some women never want to get married and have a family in the first place – so I guess they wouldn’t see it as a sacrifice).
Should we even think about the consequences of women receiving the “best” (most valuable) educations, who are not going to use this education outside the home? Does it matter that so many women seem to be turning their collective backs on the workforce and choosing family over worldly glory? Isn’t it good news that society is finally recognizing that the most personally rewarding work is with your own family? I think it’s great news.
But, I’m wondering – why is it that men rarely seem to worry about choosing between a family and a high powered career, but women are still having to choose between these two options?
**SAHM = Stay At Home Moms**