On December 26th, Shirley Young, a Chinese-American businesswoman who led the way for maternity leave, died at age 85. 

While we may actively disagree with many of Young’s later work regarding China, here at IWF we celebrate the work of Shirley Young to lead the way for maternity leave as many women enjoy today. As the New York Times describes: 

At the time, most employers offered severance packages to pregnant women, on the assumption that once they gave birth, they would never return to work. When in 1963, expecting her first child, she insisted otherwise, Grey Advertising had to invent its first maternity policy.

As well as leading the way for maternity leave, Young also pushed her firm to invest in quantitative market research instead of the “gut instinct” approach that was more common in the 1960s. 

Today, 60 years later, some women may take for granted their employers’ maternity leave policies while others may still be fighting for leave to help support them and their families. We should celebrate and be thankful for the women who have led the way for the things that we enjoy today.