The opinions expressed in entries in the LC Blog are those of the author, not of Lawyers Club of San Diego.
Do I want kids? Yes. Should I have kids? I am still not sure. I have been struggling with this question for several years, and it is not just me—more women are either delaying having children or deciding not to have children at all. A 2016 study shows that the average age of first-time mothers in big cities and on the coast has increased; in San Francisco, the average age of first-time mothers is about 32 years old. There are many ways to raise children; there is no one right way. These are just some considerations that I know are important to me in deciding whether or not to have children.
First, societal and biological pressures to have children often conflict with the period when an attorney’s career requires the most attention and commitment. “The average age of a law school graduate is 27. The average path to partnership takes ten years. Therefore, the investment of time and energy required to rise through the ranks in a private firm must be made between the approximate ages of 27 and 37." Many women who decide to have children and return from maternity leave feel a need to prove to their male counterparts that they are committed to their work, all while navigating motherhood. A study from the universities of Bristol and Essex found that women are two-thirds less likely than men to get promoted at work after having children. On the other hand, if women wait to have children, then not only does fertility start to decline by age 30, but the mother and child are also at higher risk of health issues after the age of 35. The overlap between my “biological clock” and the busiest time in my career is a harsh reality that I must consider.
Another consideration is work-life balance. It is safe to say that the legal field is not known for its flexible hours and low-stress environment. When I ask practicing attorneys how their work-life balance is, I usually get a little chuckle, proceeded by a reality check of being told it is nonexistent for at least the first several years of practicing. I knew going into this field that my job would demand a lot of my time and energy, but I did not consider how that would affect almost every aspect of my life, including the decision to have children. A 2017 study from the American Educational Research shows that women are avoiding some high-paying fields, in part because women believe they will not be supported in those fields. This pandemic has truly highlighted that many women are still expected to do most of the housework and child-rearing. With schools and daycares closed, many working mothers have taken on a majority of that responsibility as well. With work and home being so demanding, I wonder if there truly is a way to balance the two in a healthy way.
I am 26 years old, so I still have some time to think about children until I make my decision; however, even dating is a struggle without knowing if being a mother is in my future because many men envision becoming a father. I want children, I am just not sure if I should have children. This is why having an organization like Lawyers Club of San Diego is so important. Young women get perspectives of many other women who have already gone through these struggles, struggles that many men have not faced. We have the opportunity to learn from women who came before us, to appreciate male allies who can support us, and to help women who come after us.
Diane Ahn is a 3L at University of San Diego who is in search of the best spicy food restaurant in San Diego.