With more and more women entering the workforce and climbing the corporate ladder, you might think that we, as a society, are close to achieving workplace equality. Well, we might be closer than we were a few decades ago, but in my opinion we haven't gained nearly enough ground. Don't believe me? Ask any pregnant person or mom to tell you about the sexist, stereotypical, and otherwise rude comments they heard when they announced their pregnancy at work. I went ahead and asked some moms for you, and their responses were unbelievable, telling, and proof positive that when it comes to equality in the workplace, we, as a society, have a long-ass way to go.
We have a huge cultural problem on our hands, with working women in pretty much every field facing some big challenges. And while a lot of employers say they support working moms and families, some of us moms end up discovering, often times the hard way, that that the people at even the most "family-friendly" employers will still ask pregnant women questions and make comments about their family planning that they would never say to dads-to-be. For example, I've heard the following in office spaces I've shared with men and non-mom coworkers:
"This is why women shouldn't be managers. It's bad for business."
Please join me in responding to these questions and comments with the following question: WTAF?
And, of course, no one said or asked anything like the aforementioned to my now ex-husband. Even when I was our family's breadwinner, and he worked part-time, no one assumed that he would stay home with our daughter or shamed him for continuing to work after having kids. The moms I spoke with told me similar stories, too, that involved a huge variety of industries, including tech, military, nonprofit, education, retail, healthcare, legal, restaurant, and service industries. These comments are not only hurtful, sexist, and rude, they devalue women and their life choices. In case you need a reminder, that's not OK.
Now, I am not saying that being a working mom should be easy and it's up to coworkers and employers to make it so. Working while parenting is a balancing act, for sure, and working mothers are more than willing to do what's necessary to achieve their goals in and outside the workplace. But when I hear about how other working moms were treated when they announced their pregnancies, and the rude comments they heard as a response, it makes me think that working moms can't win. That the system is set up o make sure we don't win. We have to change the way we view childbearing in our culture, if we want to achieve equality, and that starts from the time someone announces their pregnancy. Read on for examples of what not to say: