Actress Gabrielle Union is the covergirl for Redbook’s October issue and she discusses the stigma attached to her decision not to have children right away. The 42 year old stepmother of three says that because she is choosing to continue her career over starting a family, she’s being looked at differently.
“So far, it has not happened for us. A lot of my friends deal with this. There’s a certain amount of shame that is placed on women who have perhaps chosen a career over starting a family younger. The penance for being a career woman is barrenness. You feel like you’re wearing a scarlet letter.”
Union, who is married to NBA star Dwayne Wade, 33, also said that there is a possibility for children in the couple’s future, but she believes there is another hurdle to jump once you decide to become a mother and continue to work.
“The reality is that women are discriminated against in the workplace for being mothers. As much as there are strides being made – you get pregnant, your career takes a hit. You can’t have a bad day. Don’t you dare cry at work. Don’t raise your voice. Especially if you’re a black woman in corporate America—now you’re ‘the angry black woman.’ ”
Not sure if Union realizes this, but women have been able to maintain successful careers and have families for decades now. Are the challenges that come with the juggling act unique and different? Sure. And yes, women who decide to have children and continue their careers are sometimes discriminated against. But saying that barrenness is the ‘penance for being a career woman’ is a bit much. It’s challenging, but very possible to have a career and a family in your 20s, 30s and 40s.
Women are waiting longer and longer to start families, and being praised for their decision to do so. Gone are the days when women wanted nothing more than to be wives and mothers. Careful family planning and career management are becoming more important. Also, for the record, it would never be appropriate to raise your voice or cry at work whether you are a man or woman, or have children or not.
What are your thoughts? Are Gabrielle Union’s beliefs outdated or on point?