Had I not been immersed in homeschooling and other activities in 1999, I still don’t think Sergey Brin and Larry Page would have invited me to join their startup, Google. They did invite Susan Wojcicki, who wrote on Dec. 17 in the Wall Street Journal that she was four months pregnant when she accepted their offer. As CEO of Youtube, she is now embarking on her fifth maternity leave, complete with eighteen weeks of full pay.
Her article extols the benefits that accrue to businesses, mothers and families from generous paid maternity leave. She urges federal governmental involvement in mandating and helping to pay for such leave. In her opinion, that would be a boon for those women who neither live in the five states that currently have state funding nor work for a company like Google that, in her words, “value motherhood.” Accepting as a given that she is both a dedicated professional and a dedicated mother, I’m glad that she is working for business rather than occupying political office.
A refrain I frequently hear from my daughters and their friends of childbearing age is that they feel forced into the work force. Whether they are putting off having children, having fewer children than they wish or going to work when they would rather be home, they view higher prices and taxation as a vise constricting their free choice. These highly intelligent, well-educated and talented ladies want more freedom to run their own lives. If Ms. Wojcicki wanted to start a charity fund to pay for maternity leave, they would say, “You go, girl.” What she is proposing now, however, is dipping into their pockets in the form of higher taxation, to support her personal agenda. Their own goals and desires will be trampled as the cost of living rises.
When people extol lavish paid maternity leave in Europe they rarely tie it to the fact that Europeans are barely having children. Somehow, the government’s “help” doesn’t seem to influence the choices their citizens are making. Could it be that these greater maternity benefits or paying for freezing women’s eggs, as Apple and Facebook now do, actually values business rather than valuing motherhood?
Having invested time and money in training female employees, it makes perfect sense that businesses want to keep those women working. When that meshes with the personal desires of the women, as it does for Ms. Wojcicki, a free and open transaction benefits both parties.
The minute government regulation forces businesses to supply those “benefits” or taxes are used for that purpose, we are no longer talking of free decision-making but rather of social engineering and coercion. It’s lovely that Ms. Wojcicki has a life she enjoys; she should recognize that not all women are made in her image.