In the 1960s, women were taught they could have it all – careers, a house and family. Fast forward to 2011. Women who have it all are multitasking masters who need to always be mindful of where they spend their time. Too much time at work and they get accused of neglecting their families; too much time at home and they get accused of not being a ‘team player’.

Generation X women are feeling the pressure of keeping up appearances and doing it all. And for Greek Australian women, there’s another added element – Greeks. A recent study in the US, conducted by New York think tank, the Centre for Work-Life Policy, revealed that half of college educated Generation X women were childless, a decision they consciously made, the study states. They deliberately chose to put a career before their family and in some cases just didn’t have that maternal urge. What’s striking is that with the Greek Australian women who spoke to Neos Kosmos all revealed they didn’t consciously make that decision, it wasn’t a deliberate act to find themselves in their 40s and childless.

Neos Kosmos contacted a number of Greek Australian Generation X women and many declined to tell their stories. Even the ones that did talk left out information they believed they would be judged on, or that would be perceived badly. To talk candidly about why a female in her 40s or 50s is unmarried and childless in the Greek community is almost like talking about something so sinister, so disturbing it’s alarming. A subject matter that is so taboo, when really it shouldn’t be. And what many don’t realise is, that in most cases, this wasn’t their choice to make.

Greeks are a people proud of their family, a culture that holds the family sacred, and a society that at times can still repress the female sex. Generation X women born to migrant Greeks in Australia are faced with what can at times be an overwhelming pressure to provide answers for choices they’ve made. But one thing rang true, Greek Australian women who have successful careers, have surrogate children, have loving and compassionate relationships with people – be it friends, lovers or family – didn’t make that choice deliberately. It just happened.

Anthea Sidiropoulos encapsulates the true definition of what it is to be a Generation X woman. Strong, courageous and brazen yet oozing with an inner warmth, she said, that it’s not fair when people judge her without knowing her.

“I feel sad when I go into society and get judged because I am not married and don’t have children but they don’t know my story. I never set out not to have kids,” Sidiropoulos said.

“My choice was taken away from me because of the chemotherapy and I was unable to. It was just before they could harvest my eggs in the 1990s. When I met my second partner he was a perfect choice for procreating and just when we wanted to have children, I got cancer.” A cancer survivor, Sidiropoulos has challenged narrow-mindedness and used her spirituality to find surrogate children in her career.

“For me it’s what your passion is and we are no less human beings or no less women if we don’t choose to have kids. I am a huge creator; I write songs, I deal with a lot of people from all generations and that to me is a my nurturing process. I’ve got eight godchildren and my koumbari have trusted me with their children.” Another Generation X woman asked for her name to remain withheld in order for her to speak candidly about the pressures she has faced as a Greek Australian.

‘Maria’ said she “thought [she] could have it all”. “I just anticipated and expected that it would all happen, but then sometimes circumstances lead you to make decisions based on what was happening at a particular point in time.

“When I was 21, I would never have thought that I would be in my mid-40s now and be single and not have a family. I didn’t go out there purposely picking a career over a family. When a relationship doesn’t work out I find that I throw myself in my career.” Sidiropoulos said the answer might be that we are products of our environment and the path we lead in life as a woman, as a human being is “circumstantial and multilateral”. The way their life has panned out are by products of broken relationships, health problems, ambition and in some cases, fear. The same way any other person’s does.

Maria said she didn’t deliberately choose to follow the path of a career woman and gets hurt by comments made by people within the Greek community who she feels do pass judgement based on her status, even though she believes they don’t do so intentionally or because they are being insensitive. “I’d like to be able to say it doesn’t bother me but that’s my Achilles heel. I do love my life, but I would also love to be in a different space. I feel like saying, ‘listen, you don’t know my story, you don’t know my relationship history, you don’t know my health status, you don’t know whether or not that’s a grief I have to live with and I have to live with that grief, and I live with that grief. It’s a loss that rears its ugly head from time to time and it’s something that I have to live with.”

She said she considered IVF, adoption and fostering but that it all forced her to look strong and hard at her motives behind her desire to follow the path of a single parent. “Was it really my desire to have a child or was it about filling a gap.” Maria says if she could go back to her 21 year-old self she “would marry the boy who was Australian and not worry about what [her] mum and dad would say”. “I was just full of fear, that was my stuff, I can’t blame my parents. But if I had my time again I would marry that lovely boy, and have a family and kids.”