The Real Scope of Pregnancy Discrimination


Recently, as we were traveling along the seafront with my friend Tracey and her Siamese cat, she turned on the radio to listen to Women’s Hour. What we were hearing was so unbelievable. When did a woman’s husband start to define her and her career prospects? This question was posed to Yvette Cooper by the presenter when she was asked if she thought she could lead the Labour party because of her husband, Ed Balls.

Due to a variety of factors, it appears that more and more women are choosing to have children later in life. I can attest from personal experience that having a baby comes with a significant financial burden, which is frequently mentioned as a contributing factor. Compared to, say, 15 to 20 years ago, women are much more focused on advancing their own careers than on having children.

I decided to inquire about maternity discrimination in the workplace among my own group of friends after becoming so alarmed by what I was hearing. Most of them could recall an instance in which they or one of their friends had suffered unfair treatment because they were pregnant. Hearing numerous instances of sexism and discrimination disturbed me. Many of them reported that after returning to work, they had to deal with all kinds of unfavorable remarks and that there were fewer opportunities available to them.

Despite the steps we as women have taken toward workplace equality, it appears that maternity discrimination is still present and active in 2015. Because taking maternity leave is discouraged and doesn’t always allow women to resume their jobs where they left off, young women are wary of becoming parents. Sad to say, having a baby results in 54,000 women losing their jobs each year. It appears that I’m not the only one; in fact, Yvette Cooper has made the same claim.

It is incomprehensible that in 2015, these attitudes toward women are still prevalent. My husband and I have recently discussed starting a family together. Before learning the extent of the attitudes that women today face, I had been looking forward to having a small child of my own. Hopefully, more can be done to ensure that all women—whether or not they are pregnant—are treated fairly and equally now that the full extent of the discrimination experienced by pregnant women has been made public.

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