Do You Want Children?
As a woman in my early thirties, I am often asked, “Do you want children?” This question is fairly innocuous—we live in a world where people share intimate details of their personal lives on the internet, including snapshots of every meal they eat. Why wouldn’t I want to share my family-planning timeline?
When I answer, “Yes, I do want to have children,” typically, the next question is, “How can you do that in your current role?” Another fair question, but one that: a) men rarely have to answer; and b) I already ask myself.
My sales role dictates that I travel frequently. For the last two and a half years, I have made Flexport my priority—I flew to Asia for 48 hours the week before my wedding to present a bid offering. If I am needed urgently to help close a deal, what comes first—my baby or the revenue target?
The question of “how” is typically asked by female colleagues— usually out of curiosity, not as a challenge. Women, especially young women, want role models who can “do it all” and not have to choose between motherhood and a successful career. More and more companies, especially here in Silicon Valley, are realizing that this tradeoff is costing them their top female talent.
While policies, such as long term paternity leave and flexible hours, can help, it will take time for women to adjust to the new world we live in—where we are expected to have kick-ass careers and also attend every PTA meeting. Unless we shift some of this burden to the opposite sex, we are going to find ourselves more and more frazzled.
Conversations with my husband around balancing family and career started long before we were married, and he’s seen me struggle with the idea of starting a family without knowing what it means for my career. I feel confident that he will share responsibilities with me, and I think he will be sensitive to this struggle as he builds out his own company and hires female leaders.
Clearly, I have not figured out the answer to “how” yet. I’m 33 and likely to embark on that journey soon. What I can say is that I will be openly sharing my story with my colleagues. Hopefully, I can help foster an environment that welcomes the question, “Do you want children?” and ensures that the topic is one of hope and excitement.