by Diona Phoenix.
Beyonce may be the only working woman having a baby these days.
According to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center,
“nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s.”
This study may come as a shock to anyone who’s watched “Teen Moms” or seen images of pregnant women that bombard us in the media. However, more and more women are choosing not to have children at all–something unheard of in the past.
Several factors contribute to why fewer women are having children. Since the 1970s, women have increasingly joined the workforce. In response, many young women are choosing to advance their education and careers before they think about starting a family. This trend has made it more acceptable for women to have children later in life or to choose not to have kids at all.
“For generations now women have been working and those who are able to gain levels of higher education tend to put off having children,” says, Iris Lopez, Ph.D, co-director of Latin American and Latino/a Studies and former director of women’s studies at City College.
Another reason women aren’t having children at the rate they used to? The array of optionsavailable to prevent and even terminate pregnancy. “There’s way more methods of birth control out there nowadays,” says MCA major, Jessica Reyes, 22.
Reyes, who is both a graduating senior and a single parent, knows firsthand the difficulties of balancing school and a child. “It’s a decision that’s so hard to make, but as a woman it’s your own personal decision.”
In previous generations, children were seen as beneficial because they could work and help support their families. Nowadays, that’s not the case and children have become less of an advantage and more of a challenge. “I think the economic value to children has definitely changed,” says Lopez, who doesn’t have children.
The difficult economy also plays a critical a role in this issue. “I think the economic situation in our country right now is to blame,” says art major Kino Galbraith, 22. “Babies are too expensive.
Even as many young women have made achieving a higher level of education and career advancement
the primary focus and put building a family on the back burner, the director of CCNY’s Career Center, Sophia Demetrou, Ph.D foresees a shift.
“I don’t think it’s like it was a generation ago where women had to postpone having children because they wanted to reach a certain level in their career,” says Dr. Demetrou, who does not have any children. “I think we’ve gone beyond that right now and younger women are looking at balancing their career with their personal lives.”
Her advice? Stay in tune with your priorities. “I counsel young women to follow their heart and not what society tells you,” she says. “
You find more meaning in your work then that’s cool too, just follow what’s best for you. You need to have the strength to say I want to have it all and you can have it all, but which is going to take the greater percentage? Because it’s never 50/50.”