Dream Team Blog Series: Is it harder than ever for a young woman to be CEO and Mom?

By Emily Citro

As a young, professional woman in the post-recession age who is still relatively new to the workforce, the idea of finding that elusive “work-life balance” is one I often think about.  For many of my peers, it is expected, not appreciated that you put in an extra 10 or so hours beyond the standard 40-hour workweek.  As my fellow millennial women look to start families of their own, many cannot afford to leave their careers to raise children, and most don’t want to.  While most mothers are primary caregivers, they are also women with aspirations who take pride in their work and professional accomplishments.  Can these young pros achieve their lofty goals without falling off the career ladder?

A recent article in the New York Times detailed the plight of Japanese women who have found themselves in a similar predicament, leading to plunging birth rates and an ensuing economic population crisis.  Office environments and expected hours are so grueling in Japan that most workers only use a tiny percentage of their paid time off, usually for sick leave (gee, sense a correlation?).  Japanese culture emphasizes harmony and job descriptions are vague, leading to each employee being integral to multiple parts of a business.  Employees end up feeling guilty for taking time off if they are unloading their work onto their co-workers.

In a separate article on Yahoo, a 36-year old female professional puts in 14 hours a day at the trading company where she works, including early morning meetings and after hours networking with clients.  But like the US, Japan is considering legislation that further ensures a greater sense of personal well-being.  The legislation would require employers to make sure that employees actually use their vacation time. With women increasingly feeling as if taking time off will stall any career ambitions it’s not surprising that the birth rate has reached historic lows in the past few years.  Europe and the U.S. have seen steadily a declining birthrate in the last few years as well, with the birth rate in the US declining for the 6th straight year in 2013 as per the CDC.

What do you think ladies?  Is there room in today’s workplace for high-achievement and motherhood?

Emily has been working with me for almost 2 years now as a marketing assistant on my team.  She graduated from Adelphi University with a Bachelors’ in English with a creative writing focus and previously worked in property management.  She and her fiancé are set to wed in 2015, and she has recently become a hot yoga devotee.

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