Would you apply for a new job during your pregnancy? This smart mum did and it not only worked out a treat, it may shift perceptions on how pregnancy and career combine.
An open secret
Mum Sally Hasler has started an important conversation about the opportunities offered to pregnant women in the workforce.
As Sally points out, it is against the law to discriminate against a woman due to pregnancy, but that hasn’t stopped widespread discrimination quietly occurring. Couple that with a firm perception that women in late pregnancy should be putting their life on hold for parenthood – and that work should be on the back burner – and you’ll rarely find newly-appointed, very pregnant ladies by the water cooler at work.
While not every pregnant woman wants to, or is able to, remain in the workforce – or indeed snaffle a new job – it’s important that mums have the choice to pursue the path that works best for them and are supported by employers along the way.
Sally, a gender equity adviser and a Non-Executive Director of St John Ambulance Australia, shared her story on Women’s Agenda in the hope that it would spark a rethink on how mums are viewed and valued in the workplace.
Sally found herself hankering for a more challenging role and she just happened to be quite pregnant at the time. Like many of us, she second-guessed herself, wondering if the timing was awkward and pondering whether any future employer would see hiring an almost full-term mum as an advisable decision.
When those nearest and dearest to her encouraged her to get out of her own way and apply for a role she was coveting, she took their advice and reaped the rewards.
“I stopped thinking about myself as damaged goods, I stopped thinking too far ahead and I stopped guessing what my potential employer would say and think,” Sally wrote. “When I was informed I was the preferred candidate, I told them I was pregnant. You can imagine my relief, when the response was ‘that changes nothing.'”
Believe it or not!
She got the job when she was 34 weeks pregnant and started work at 36 weeks. Two weeks later, she headed off on maternity leave – allowing a new colleague to step into her role temporarily – and then returned to work.
The fact this seems like something lifted from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not highlights just how ingrained attitudes to pregnancy in the workplace are – and how much we take for granted women must simply pause their career if they choose to be mothers.
Sally’s experience illustrates that there are many ways to approach motherhood and career, and while she admits that her employer is a total gem and her fair treatment has been ideal, she hopes her career path might inspire broader conversation and change when it comes to workplace equality and pregnancy.
Women become pregnant in the midst of important phases in their career and a rethink on how we accomodate and value them is long overdue.
“This conversation has to start somewhere and we need to challenge the mindset that pregnancy and maternity leave is a disadvantage for the employer,” Sally writes.
“If we as a society are committed to truly opening up employment opportunities to women and boosting women’s workforce participation in Australia, we need to think more openly about employing pregnant women,” Sally writes.