Career or starting a family? As women, can we do both or are we already holding ourselves back?

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Career, family & the future. Can we have it all?

Within the space of a week, I had two of my closest friends say something that almost caught me off guard and surprised me a little. When chatting about our futures, what we want to do and where we see ourselves, they both mentioned how they wanted to work hard to have a great career and really progress... until they start a family and become a Mum.

This is something that I've never thought about - and not just because I'm so far off wanting kids, I think my Dad's actually starting to actually get a little worried he's never going to get Grandchildren - but because for me, whenever I do think about starting a family, I don't see myself wanting to give up or having to sacrifice my career.

Just because you might have children one day, why should that mean that you have to give up everything you've worked really bloomin' hard for up until that point? Why should you sacrifice your future and the potential of all of the things you could still yet achieve with your career?

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I've been doing a lot of reading recently - Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg has been a recent favourite. In her book, Sheryl talks about the Leadership Ambition Gap - the idea that as women, we absolutely have the skills to lead in the workplace - but when you really dig into the research, the data clearly shows that more men than women aspire to reach the most senior jobs in many industries. Sheryl partly attributes this to the fact that as women, and together with the pressures of society, we sometimes check ourselves out of the competition before we even get to the point of seriously even thinking about starting a family. Sheryl isn't telling us all to find a way to turn ourselves into superwoman and be able to do it all. She's simply telling us to not 'leave before you leave.'

Don't make a decision now because 'one day' you'll want to start a family. Don't turn down a promotion because you plan to become pregnant 'at some point in the next few years'. Don't decide to not follow those career dreams or be any less ambitious because 'one day I'll want more balance'.


Obviously, deciding what you want to do when you become a Mum is such a personal decision, and no matter which path you choose to take; whether it be devoting your time to be a full-time parent, or opting to go back to work after maternity leave, there will be so many challenges, rewards and ups & downs to both. Every woman's journey and situation will be so unique, and it's a situation whereby you literally have no idea what you're going to want or need to do until you get there.

Neither option is better than the other. Whichever one you, I, or any of us eventually choose to do will be the right choice for us and our families - and each decision will be different.

However, why are so many of us already making this decision so far in advance? If it's illegal for your employer to ask questions and make decisions that could potentially hold you back because you plan to have a family 'someday' - why are we holding ourselves back for this very same reason?

In Sheryl's words, why are we already 'leaning back' from our career when really we should be putting our 'foot on the gas pedal and keeping it there until the day you have to make a decision'.

This is a topic that really interests us a lot and always causes a lot of debate! And it's these kind of topics that we really want to start chatting about and discussing a lot more here on GIW.

So, let's start the conversation. What do you think?