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Oh My God, No, Having "Masculine Work Goals" Will Not Stop You Getting Pregnant

Seriously, why does this need saying out loud?

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Over at the Daily Mail and the Independent, they've got some scary news:

Independent / Via independent.co.uk

A "natural fertility specialist", Fiona Kacz-Boulton, warns women with "a steady income" who "[wear] the pants in the relationship" that they are "acting masculine and expecting your body to perform in a feminine way". She gives the example of a teacher, a head of department, whose husband was self-employed, and who struggled to get pregnant.

To be clear, she isn't just talking about putting off having children, or being too busy to have sex. She's talking about traditional male/female roles actually affecting how your body works.

Traditional feminine work goals: ferrying B-26 Marauder bombers to the front line, like Elizabeth Gardner.
USAF / CC / Via en.wikipedia.org

Traditional feminine work goals: ferrying B-26 Marauder bombers to the front line, like Elizabeth Gardner.

Or, as she told the audience at the Fertility Show in London: "Women are now out working just as much as men, trying to achieve, and are in this very masculine state – a yang state, a go-getting state.

"But then we are expecting our body to be in the feminine state, which is about opening and surrendering [to conceive]."

This came as something of a surprise to us, so we thought we'd ask an expert, and to cut a long story short he said it wasn't at all true.

Traditional feminine work goals: expelling Nazi troops from occupied Ukraine in the second world war.
Creator unknown / CC / Via en.wikipedia.org

Traditional feminine work goals: expelling Nazi troops from occupied Ukraine in the second world war.

Tim Child, a consultant gynaecologist and professor of fertility at the University of Oxford, told BuzzFeed News: "There's certainly zero evidence that women's 'work goals' affect fertility, or that types of job are linked to fertility.

"The act of working hard, even in a traditionally male profession, will definitely not be linked to fertility. I think such statements don't help women – they only add, perhaps, to the anxiety that people have already about fertility and work-life balance."

That's not to say your career isn't relevant. There are ways your work can affect how likely you are to conceive. But it's nothing to do with how "masculine" your job is.

Traditional feminine work goals: marching with your Red Army unit.
RIA Novosti archive / CC / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Traditional feminine work goals: marching with your Red Army unit.

"There's a relationship between your age and your chance of conception," said Child, so if your career affects the age at which you try to conceive then that's worth bearing in mind, if you do want to have children.

And while "stress on its own has not been shown to influence fertility", he said, "stress and anxiety can affect a relationship, and therefore frequency of intercourse". Obviously, if you're too stressed and busy to have much sex, you will be less likely to get pregnant.

But, again, this isn't anything to do with how "masculine" your job is.

Other fertility experts, such as gynaecologist Dr Jen Gunter, have been less diplomatic:

Fuck off. Stop. Promoting. Misogynistic. Shit. Like. This. https://t.co/SqEFyivc3X

In short, this is nonsense. There are real things to think about if you want to maximise your chances of having children; how "masculine" your job is isn't one of them.

Traditional feminine work goals: being Captain Mariya Dolina, squadron commander of the 125th “Marina N. Raskova” Borisov Guards dive bomber regiment.
Uncredited / CC / Via commons.wikimedia.org

Traditional feminine work goals: being Captain Mariya Dolina, squadron commander of the 125th “Marina N. Raskova” Borisov Guards dive bomber regiment.

As an aside, it's worth noting that during the second world war, the Russian Red Army recruited thousands of young women to the front lines, fighting as – among other things – combat soldiers, night-bomber pilots, and even snipers. According to the historian Antony Beevor, quite a lot of them got pregnant.

You'd think, on a scale of most to least traditionally masculine, the job "actual sniper on the Eastern Front" probably comes before "head of school department". Anecdote ≠ data, but if Kacz-Boulton is allowed anecdotes to support her point, so are we.

Tom Chivers is a science writer for BuzzFeed and is based in London.

Contact Tom Chivers at tom.chivers@buzzfeed.com.

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