Italy-based Catia Colagrande strongly believes it is important to have a stable career before being someone’s wife or mother. “I want to make my dreams come true, live my life to the fullest without regrets: only in this way, one day, I will be able to build a family and be happy.”

Catia told her boyfriend of ten years, Domenico, that she had a dream and did not intend to give it up. “Most men would have run away from a 15-year-old who is so determined and ambitious but he didn’t. Instead, my boyfriend has always supported me. He has not only accepted my choices but has always shared them. I believe that there are no right or wrong aspirations but that every woman should feel free to choose who to be and to become,” the 28-year-old aspiring judge tells Vanity Fair.

According to a 2020 survey, three out of five millennials were willing to delay life milestones until they reached a certain job title or level within their career. Catia, along with other women, gives herself permission to focus on building her career path, and postponing marriage and raising a family for later in life.

V.F. speaks to five female leaders about their trials and triumphs of being a working mother. We discuss how they chose to postpone parenthood to build a career and their ability to combine a career with the added responsibility of raising a child and the importance of their partners, workplace and community.

Her Highness Sayyida Basma Al Said, Oman

Omani Royal, Psychotherapist and Clinical Hypnotherapist and founder of Whispers of Serenity Clinic

“My career actually skyrocketed even more after getting married and having four children. Having a supportive husband is very important. If I did not have that then I would not have been able to have a stable career. Knowing the personality of your partner before [marriage or having children] helps.”

“While I was doing my masters in Australia, my husband was doing his PhD. We were both students, and he helped me out a lot at that time. I had my first daughter while I was studying my masters for the first year, and after 18 months, I was pregnant with twins. There wasn’t a big gap between them and again, it just taught me more empathy, more emotions and I understood more about the cases I was researching and studying. Working in my field, I was blessed because I started with the government (I worked for a university hospital for 11 years), before I opened my own clinic. I actually worked even more because it was my own business. And for me, my clinic is not just a clinic, I also run mental health awareness campaigns, I also work with the government. I also work overseas to support women and those in refugee camps. I wouldn’t be able to do that if I didn’t have a good support system.”

“I hear a lot of women being very terrified, not about [being a working mother] but by marriage itself. Even now, in 2021, they still have the same fears: ‘what if my personality will be cancelled? What if I don’t have a career anymore? What if I have these kids in my life?’. I always notice that people who are terrified or scared are also from an environment where there wasn’t a support system. If they had an environment where the father supports the mother, the mother had a great career that kicked off even more with the kids, that’s different. They are never terrified. It always begins at home. Everything we do in our lives begins from how we were brought up, the environment we were in and how it affects us.”