It's understandable that there's a fear in inquiring about maternity leave, but we need to fight it.
As much as we want for an equal society, we're not quite there yet. And we're reminded of this fact whenever we look into the workforce and are forced to recognize that women are still being paid less than men. To add to that already disheartening truth, another place where things are precarious for women in the job sector is when it comes to pregnancy and maternity leave. As women, we're so aware of this fact, that we don't even dare to ask about maternity leave, especially during a job interview. It's sad.
A new study has found that when it comes to baby talk, a lot of women just avoid it all together in the office out of fear of either not getting a job or losing the one they already have. Of the women polled, 23 percent said they wouldn't even dream of discussing maternity leave with their boss, 22 percent felt that any mention of maternity leave would put their job at risk, and 42 percent would only ask about maternity leave at the same time they were about to announce their pregnancy. To correspond with those stats, only 32 percent of women were given information about maternity benefits at the start of a new job.
When it come to reasons why women weren't inquiring about what is completely within their right, 43 percent feared that their boss would think they were already preggers, 37 percent were scared that it would be assumed that they were trying to conceive, and 30 percent felt that to bring up such a topic would be unprofessional. But breaking news, you guys, asking questions about maternity is far from unprofessional. In fact, it's a discussion that every woman should have upon being hired, or even asked in the job interview phase.
While it's understandable that there is a fear in inquiring about maternity leave, we need to fight it. We are the gender that carries the baby for nine months, so we are also the gender that should be provided benefits for it, unless, of course, science wants to figure out a way for men to carry babies, then I'm sure a lot of women would totally support that idea. But since that isn't an option right now, we'll have to work with the cards we've been given and not steer away from the topic of maternity leave in the workplace, because for any working woman who wants to have a baby, it is an inevitable discussion that will have to be had, so it's better to have it sooner than later. Kick the fear to the curb, and just ask already.
The best part is, if you are unfairly treated because you're either a pregnant woman or a woman who's hoping to conceive, then, at least here in the States, the government is on your side. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is quite clear about the fact that no woman should be discriminated against because she's pregnant, that means whether or not she already has a job or is applying for a job. As long she can perform the work and duties required of her and the position, she is absolutely protected.
Now that we have that out there, can we all agree that there's no shame in being pregnant, wanting to be pregnant, or trying to get pregnant while having a job at the same time? Yes. So, let's get those conversations started with human resources departments everywhere, and stop living in fear.