By Eva Quigley, 11th Grade Student at New Milford High School
Throughout the past century, each generation of women has overcome a multitude of issues, and today’s young women continue to persevere today. An issue I believe all young women face today, and have been confronted with for generations, is having to juggle with the pressures of the workforce and wanting to start a family. For young women who are committed to both their job and their family, there is an immense difficulty when attempting to achieve higher positions in work because of their other responsibilities in their personal life.
For younger men, it is much easier to have a career in medicine or business, for example, since they don’t have to make as many sacrifices when it comes to the desire to create a family. In the case of most young women, they are braced with the responsibility of being pregnant which can lead to unexpected absences in work due to doctors appointments, sickness, and, eventually, maternity leave after having their child. When women are pregnant, or express their wish to start a family, that situation may lead for some serious consideration when, perhaps, they are running for an executive position at the company they work for. The consideration for this appointment might be exceedingly deliberative since their health and energy may not be at its greatest extent compared to a young man who may be starting a family too, but isn’t laden with the strain of being pregnant. I believe because of this complication, all young women are faced with a great disadvantage in the workforce. Something that is quite discouraging about this issue, besides the notion that young women and men aren’t given equal opportunity in the workforce, is that the judgment of many young women’s performance isn’t based off their ability to handle the job, but based on their gender and personal life. Although I do not face such a problematic situation now, I don’t think that my voice, and the voices of other young girls, shouldn’t be heard. Eventually, for all young women who will express a desire to start a family, they will be laden with this profound discrimination and inequity that men aren’t encumbered with. Perhaps, in the eyes of many, this issue cannot be solved fairly or satisfactory enough to the outcome us women desire. However, small steps must be taken so we can eventually handle this situation wholeheartedly and as effectively as possible. Here is my proposition: in order for women to receive more sympathy and support for starting their family, I think new fathers should be given paid time off as they help support their wives during maternity leave. In a healthy and active family, both the mother and father are equally supportive of one another, and contribute to their family’s needs equally. While women are on maternity leave, they deserve their significant other to advocate for them and be an important cornerstone in the parenting process.
Although young women today face a variety of different challenges in the present compared to the issues they faced in previous generations, they continue to conquer them with an equal amount of courage and strength. Yesterday’s women are role models to today’s young women, and by following their example, today’s young women can be an example to the young women of the future. I do think that this particular issue can be resolved, and it will take more than one girl with one idea to get this message across. By spreading my message to others, I would like to make both men and women aware of this issue so we can work together to make a change.
This blog post was an entry into Young Women Rising’s annual essay contest in which 11th grade students were asked, “What is one of the most important issues facing young women today and how do you see yourself having an impact on that issue?”