In an age when women are striving for equality in the workplace, despite legislation put in place to protect women’s rights, studies reveal that 60,000 women are pushed out of jobs every year after becoming pregnant and that almost half of all pregnant women experience discrimination in the workplace.
The problems don’t end there. Upon returning to work after having their babies, women can expect the existing wage gap between the sexes to widen from 10-15% less per hour than men to a massive 33%. This, alongside the dwindling progression opportunities within their company, makes returning to work following pregnancy seem like a pretty depressing prospect.
Adding insult to injury is the sexist and unfair discrimination that pregnant women and new mothers face at work. One mother who went through this is Joeli Brearley, who has now launched a website where other fed-up working mums and mums-to-be can anonymously share their stories of discrimination. These make for interesting reading.
One mother claims to have seen her role given to the contractor who covered her maternity leave, while another battled against an unsupportive boss who tried to downgrade her salary. Unsympathetic management seems to be a recurring theme on the website, with many women sharing horror stories about bosses who changed their attitude completely towards them after becoming pregnant. Failing to understand the nature of pregnancy, some insisted that women came into work regardless of whether they were experiencing morning sickness or other pregnancy-related ailments; in fact, one even told an expectant mother she would have to be sick in the office bin.
Pregnancy is a major physical and emotional adjustment for any woman; in addition, managing motherhood and a professional life once the baby is born is the ultimate juggling act. With the poor attitudes of employers alongside the huge wage gap and the likelihood of promotion or progression at work significantly decreasing, many women are rightly questioning whether returning to work is a worthwhile option.
Not only can the rising costs of childcare make returning to work unsustainable but also leaving their baby in someone else’s care can be traumatic and unsettling. Why go through this only to be unappreciated and discriminated against?
With many women asking themselves this very question, perhaps it is time for companies to change their outlook if they want to retain a qualified, able and skilled workforce of women who also happen to be mothers.
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