Williams’ Plight Highlights Gender Inequality

Balancing+a+career+and+family+is+a+hard+feat.+Instead+of+supporting+women+who+decide+to+do+both%2C+society+has+created+a+stigma+against+working+women+with+children.+This+needs+to+stop.+

Media by Emma Tyulyayev

Balancing a career and family is a hard feat. Instead of supporting women who decide to do both, society has created a stigma against working women with children. This needs to stop.

There are people in every facet of life who are at the top of their game. They have the perfect combination of drive, skills and charisma to lead the pack in what they do.

Tennis legend Serena Williams is one of those people. 

Excelling at the sport from a young age, Williams has earned 23 Grand Slam singles titles, 4 gold medals and has been the advertising face of many companies.

One would think her shining career would not halt for anything. She seems unstoppable. 

But throw the prospect of a child into the mix, and suddenly all the running she has been doing slows to a walk.

Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family. I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.”

— Serena Williams

In August, Williams announced in Vogue that she decided to quit tennis after she finished her 2022 season. The reason: she wants to have another child, so her 5-year-old daughter Olympia can be a big sister.

Believe me, I never wanted to have to choose between tennis and a family,” she said in the Vogue article. “I don’t think it’s fair. If I were a guy, I wouldn’t be writing this because I’d be out there playing and winning while my wife was doing the physical labor of expanding our family.

In situations concerning strength and power, like maintaining a job in the business world or continuing to play tennis at an Olympic level, countless other women have echoed Williams’ sentiment. They feel like it would be easier to be a man in order to be courageous, successful and listened to. Even Shakespeare’s Lady MacBeth, a bloodthirsty, cunning woman, asks to be “unsexed,” or lose her supposedly “weak” femininity, to be taken seriously about her plan to kill King Duncan. 

Today, more than 400 years after Shakespeare’s time, most women are still not viewed seriously in the workplace, especially after having children. 

A study by Chris Melore, a researcher based in the New York area, found that 46% of working women with children he surveyed felt that they were being treated by others “as if they’re not committed to their work because they have children.”

As a woman who aspires to enter the corporate world, I believe women deserve to know we can be successful, productive members of society always. Just because we want to reap the benefits of having children with the person we love shouldn’t mean we should be regarded as less competent in our careers. Eventually, this growing pressure to just become a stay-at-home mom will cause “43% of highly qualified women with children [to leave] careers or [off-ramp] for a period of time,” according to the Harvard Business Review.

It is crucial for Americans, and the world as a whole, to realize that working women with children are actually some of the strongest among us. To juggle raising a kid with excelling at a career is an impressive feat. It should not have to be this hard to garner more support from the others in our lives for this to be a norm.