Oftentimes, women are led to occupy many, many different roles in life. Many of these roles challenging each other, pulling and tugging for equal attention, commitment, and performance. The truth is we can’t have it all! Not all the time, at the same time that is. In the United States, women are oftentimes told that we can have it all, there is no limit to our dreams but that’s a lie. I say this not to be pessimistic but rather realistic. Our society has yet to fully recognize the notion of “workplace equality” for women (don’t forget the added levels of oppression for women of color). Being a woman of color in the legal field, has proven to be quite challenging from the onset. From undecided feelings of whether or not to disclose the fact that I have an infant, to the condescending comments about women, childbearing, and ascribing to a “hetero-normative” lifestyle. Over this summer, I struggled working, going to school, and caring for my son. In my struggle, I felt even more isolated because I had no one to confide in who had been in my situation. Isolation in and of itself has become a part of my reality.
In order for women to be successful in graduate school the following has to be recognized:
1. Most women in graduate school are of childbearing age (24-34). Graduate program policies should openly recognize and support the personal development as well as professional development of its female students.
2. Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in higher education. Policies that respect and recognize the unique needs of pregnant female students creates an inclusive environment for women. Policies that indirectly and/ or directly force women to choose between pursuing their degree and having children are simply wrong.
3. As a society, we need to recognize that cis-women did not choose their birth sex. Pregnancy brings human life and is not just a “women’s issue”. All human life on Earth, up until this point, has been carried by a woman.
4. A woman’s choice to have a baby does not mean that she should have to forego all of her personal and professional endeavors. When men have children, procreation is viewed as a good thing. Men are seen as stable, trustworthy, and reliable. When women have children, procreation is a negative thing. Women are viewed as unreliable and a burden on the workplace.