Leading Professor Pleads: “Start Having Babies Earlier!”

Leading Professor Pleads: “Start Having Babies Earlier!”

The following is an excerpt from a “Times of Israel” article by Amanda Borschel Dan about Brandeis Jewish Studies Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman:

To have multiple children, women need to start giving birth earlier.

This stark biological fact is an unspoken boogeyman that needs to come out of the closet for women to achieve all their life goals, not only professional.

[Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman of Brandeis University says]: “As a feminist I want women to have what they want in their lives.”

In a society obsessed with career, women are concerned that taking time out for families will hamper their professional lives. Fishman says, however, young women need to be better informed as they plan their lives.

She refers to research and popular “triumphalist stories” in mainstream periodicals with headlines proclaiming “I waited until 40 and had two children.” In these articles, she says, the cited statistics are that 80% of women over 40 who try to conceive, succeed.

“But that means that 20% don’t! If you think about statistics surrounding diseases, saying 1:9 will be afflicted makes people rightfully concerned. One in five is a huge amount of grief, much of which could be avoided,” Fishman says.

Fishman says the Jewish community needs to address this problem, perhaps through small focus groups of men and women in their early 20s, and explore how to get the now culturally forbidden idea of starting families earlier into the mainstream.

With the perspective of a scholar who conquered gender bias to make it to the top of her field while raising a family, she says, “Women who say they can’t have it all may need to redefine what ‘it all’ is.”

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