|What goes on in a working woman’s mind when she finds out she is pregnant?|
She’s happy? Yes. Excited and probably a little nervous too. She wonders if she is ready. Maybe even panics for a bit. Overall, I think she looks forward to what lies ahead. But there is one other thing that goes on in her mind. Do you know what that is? Well, I’ll tell you. She wonders what’s going to happen to her at work once they find out she is pregnant.
You might say what in the world I’m talking about. But, having been working for about 11 years now, let me assure you that if there are very few seats at the table for a working woman who is not pregnant and not married, holding on to a seat or even a part of a seat at that table becomes difficult when a woman becomes pregnant. And no that’s not because of the physiological changes that come with pregnancy. It is due to the rot that suddenly surfaces in the minds of many bosses when they learn of their employee’s pregnancy. Don’t even get me started on what happens when she joins back after her maternity leave if she is allowed to join back at all. For today, let’s just focus on what happens when the office learns, specifically the managers learn of a woman’s pregnancy.
From the moment a woman discloses her pregnancy, she is on a clock and fast approaches her expiry date at work. Calculations start happening in the mind of her bosses so as to replace her as soon as possible even before her maternity leave begins. Now, I’m no fool. I know that a woman who is pregnant would be going for a few months break at least (sanctioned by law), so she has to be replaced because work won’t stop for her. But what happens in offices is that she is seen as a liability, as someone who won’t be delivering anything anymore apart from the baby. I don’t need to tell you how wrong that is. So, things start happening to bump her off the team, sometimes without any pretence and most times furtively so as to avoid any HR nightmare.
I was one of the lucky ones to have worked till the day my water burst thought what I got in return of that is still something I’m not quite sure about. But I have heard stories from many of my fellow women colleagues which go to show that despite the policies, the treatment meted out to pregnant women is not what you’d expect in an educated environment.
Now on any ordinary day, a woman with an opinion or a voice (traits imperative at work, you should note) is dubbed unstable, volatile or even a ball of nerves. Now imagine she becomes pregnant. That status then is elevated and she is called a ticking timebomb of nerves. Everything she does, every opinion she lays out, especially if contrary to what the corporate Gods want to hear or her team want to hear, is termed as an emotional outburst. She is treated as if her pregnancy has made her misfit to work or take reasonable decisions.
She is assured multiple times that she has nothing to worry about with respect to her position but more often than not she is pressurised more than usual. Unreasonable demands with respect to timelines are made on her, timelines which make no sense to the work at hand irrespective of whether there is a human in the making inside of her. Do you know the reason why? Often it is so that she comes forward to ask for a release herself or when worst comes to worst, resign. See the thing is they do it passively to avoid a PR nightmare but it’s there. If you talk to working mothers and listen to their stories from the time of their pregnancies you’ll get to know how most of them have suffered from this misplaced belief that being pregnant suddenly affects a woman’s faculties to perform her responsibilities at work.
What goes on in a working woman's mind when she finds out she is pregnant? #FeministMondays Click To Tweet
So, yes, a lot of questions fill a woman’s mind when she reveals at work that she is pregnant because she knows what might happen to her. She wonders if she will be released from the project she is working on. She wonders if that will affect her coming back to work later on. She wonders if they will retain her at all. And all this because she is pregnant. The thing is, women would gladly let men do the reproduction but someone up there stuck females with this process. Now, I would love to contest this but can’t fight biology, can I? So, for humankind to propagate women will have to get pregnant which means they will carry one human or more within them for at least 9 months and they will need some time off after pushing these human or humans out of them. But that doesn’t mean, they are incapable of continuing with work. However, women are punished for this just the same.
I know some people who haven’t the faintest idea of giving birth or taking care of a child while holding on to a career, will give arguments of business profit and all that. To them, I just want to say that get a life. Pregnancy is no privilege and most of us don’t ask for special treatment during that time but don’t mistreat us as well just because we are. Being biased against a woman employee if she is pregnant is wrong. If she is doing her work all through her pregnancy, you have no right to remove her or employ tactics which eventually
So, the next time you see a pregnant working woman, think about all that I have said above. And if you have a story of being a pregnant working woman yourself, do share your story with me.
Until next time. Keep fighting! Keep being a Feminist!
This post is part of the #FeministMondays series (previously called #IAmAFeminist series) on the blog. Inspired by a TEDx talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie – We Should All Be Feminists, I intend to talk about the need for feminism through my posts, posts on my experience and observation as a female. I intend to talk about issues concerning women.