Gender discrimination in the workplace because you were born female and may at some point wish to bring another human into this world and need a little time off work to do so. Can you believe this still happens?
Not only do women get paid less in some industries for doing the same job as men (as highlighted again recently within the BBC) but career-focused women all over the world also have to deal with backward-thinking bosses, who make it difficult for them to advance their career, just because they wish to start a family. Why, in 2018, do some companies still not recognise that to decline a woman who wishes to become a mother, the same career opportunities as everyone else, as totally unacceptable? Not only is it unacceptable, it is also illegal.
A friend recently told me she believes she was dismissed for consideration for a new position because she mentioned in a senior management meeting that she wished to have children in the not too distant future. She had worked for the company for four years at this point. Afterwards she was angry at herself for divulging this in the meeting, but why should she be? Her anger towards herself soon turned to resentment for her employer, when she realised that she shouldn’t punish herself for being honest and actually she was already being punished by them for being a childless female of a certain age.
A few years back I found myself in a similar situation when my manager thought it would be okay to be honest with me, seeing as we were also quite good friends, and confided in me that it just wouldn’t be possible to give me the promotion that I was on track for, now that I was pregnant. Obviously, I could understand this, right? No, I couldn’t understand this and how dare people think that it’s okay to say this out loud. Yes, I should have gone to HR and yes, I do wish I had, but at the time I was in a different place and maybe not quite as vocal as I am these days. So instead, I sucked it up and to this day, seven years on, I still think about how I should have handled the situation differently.
I was discussing this topic with my husband and he was trying to play devil’s advocate and said he could also see where the employer was coming from, as not only have they promoted someone who isn’t going to be there for a few months, but they also have to fork out for someone else to cover the maternity leave – don’t worry, he’s still alive. But he can think this way because he was born male and he’ll never be in a position where he feels that he can no longer further his career because he wants to be a father. This isn’t a dig at men, I’m just stating a fact, that this sort of gender discrimination in the workplace mainly happens to women.
So, what can we do? As women, do we have to hide the fact that we may want to have children? If we do fall pregnant, do we keep it a secret until our blossoming bellies are now too big to hide? Absolutely not, it shouldn’t even be an issue. I shouldn’t even be writing this but unfortunately, I am. This sort of discrimination is still happening to women all over the world and if I’m honest, I don’t know that it’ll ever truly disappear.
I only hope that more strong women stand up and speak out if it happens to them and shame those bosses who think they can get away with this sort of behaviour. Come on folks, its 2018, not 1918 – lets act like it.