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Melanie Notkin

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It's Time to Stop Calling Career Women Without Children "Delayers"

Posted: 06/13/11 10:00 AM ET

College-educated women, as much as you may want children, you're not having them when the Census Bureau thinks you should, and it's your fault.

You went to college. You got an education. You went to work so that you could support yourself. And because of that, they're going to point a finger at your uterus and say: "Delayer."

Any woman who didn't have a child by the time she hit 30 used to be called a "career woman" until someone knocked on 2011's door and said that careers for single women, even married women, even moms, are not so much of a choice these days.

So now you've got a new name: 'delayer." "Women with a college degree are experiencing a "delayer boom," the Census Bureau states in a report, "giving birth at a later age than other women but still having fewer children overall by the end of their childbearing years."

Yes, we're having children later, if at all -- 18 percent of American women are not moms by age 44. We're having fewer children when we do -- 1.7 children on average for college grads, not the 2.5 children those who never graduated high school are having.

Data is data, but is the qualitative conclusion that women are 'delaying' having children a fair presumption? The word 'delay' implies it's an active decision, and not one with positive implications. The term is blameful of women who get a college degree, slicing the entire female demo into what may feel like good vs evil: those who have children at what is deemed a normal age (relative to a generation ago) and those who 'delay' having children.

My experience tells me there is something else going on behind this trend, something that is actually good for men, women and the families they may build together. Most women I've encountered are waiting for love. And love may be harder to find these days.

About half the workforce is now made up of women and so we're no longer looking for a man to replace our dad's financial support like many women did even a generation ago. And the guys know that. You know the old adage -- men are looking to marry (women like) their mothers, and we've come a long way, baby. Many who grew up in the 70s and even 80s had stay-at-home-moms (who were also stay-at-home-wives). And while women are still earning only 75 cents on the professional male dollar in most sectors, some men feel like they can no longer play the role their dad's played in household. That makes college-educated women earning a good living less attractive to these guys. And many of these women are looking for men who are a match to their education and career.

Still, the women I know want the family their moms had, and they never dreamed that getting a college education and a job would inhibit that. While there are many women and couples who are childfree by choice, many of the 24 percent of American women who remain childless on their 30th birthday may be grieving. By the time we're 40, almost a fifth of American women remain childless and we certainly can't presume at this point they are still 'delaying' pregnancy, can we?

The federal government's blame-name-calling needs to stop. We're not spinsters. We're not career women. And we're not delayers.

We're college-educated professional women who are simply waiting for love. And we all hope it comes soon.

Melanie Notkin is the founder of Savvy Auntie, the lifestyle brand for PANKs(R) - Professional Aunts, No Kids.

 
 
 

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