Like pantyhose and wood paneling, there are some things that are better left in the past. We can now add to that list the age-old dilemma many women face: go for that advanced degree or hang up the bookbag and start having babies.
According to a new report from the Pew Research Center, we've found a way to have both -- and on our own terms, no less. In a 1994 analysis of Census Bureau data, Pew researchers found that 30 percent of women age 40-44, who held a master's degree or higher, had no children. Ten years later, that number has fallen to 22 percent. By the same token, some 35 percent of women with a Ph.D. or M.D. were childless in 1994, but today only 20 percent are. Meanwhile, highly educated women are also more likely to have more than one child.
Though the Pew report didn't explain why educated women are starting a family later in life, Gretchen Livingston, a senior researcher there, told Fusion that it could be due a few things. First, there are more moms in the workplace (and more of us are taking on management and leadership roles). Second, thanks to techological advances like IVF, we're putting off getting pregnant. Third, advanced degree-holders are "a bit" more likely to be married these days versus 20 years ago, and stats show that married women are more likely to have babies.
Livingston also points out that just as more older, highly educated women are having babies, more young women are choosing to stay childless -- for now. This could mean that the pressure for us to settle down and start a family ASAP may be lifting a bit, which is a refreshing change from what our mothers and grandmothers were told. After all, having a baby is a wonderful, life-changing thing and should be experienced by everyone who wants it. But also immensely satisfying is pursuing and achieving a professional dream. Does this report mean we finally have it all? I won't go that far -- the phrase means something different to everyone. But it looks like we may be getting there.
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Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
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