When I was in Bible College, a girl who lived down the hall from me in the dormitory had a baby. Oddly, when we found out that she was in labor, no one seemed to know she was pregnant. She told the administrators that she didn’t know she was pregnant either. (Apparently, some lucky women don’t have their “situation” every month.) She went to the doctor because she was feeling sick and the doctor told her she was in labor. Later, when explaining how she could have not known she was pregnant for nine full months, she said she’d been carrying her baby in her back. I’d never heard of such a thing, but apparently it means a woman has a retroverted uterus and therefore her pregnancy doesn’t show very much. I didn’t want to call the woman a liar, but it seemed awfully unbelievable that she didn’t have the slightest idea that she was pregnant until the baby was sliding down the birth canal.
You see, before enrolling in Bible College, students signed a “moral code” and the penalty for breaking those codes was expulsion. Fornication was definitely on that list and unless you’re the Virgin Mary then pregnancy is a dead giveaway that you’ve had sex and that meant being kicked out of the school. I wondered if, finding out months before that she was indeed with child, she decided that feigned ignorance was the best way to go. That or she genuinely had no idea and had mistaken any bleeding over the last eight months to be a part of her period. It was the end of the semester when she had her baby and I didn’t see her after that, but whenever I think about someone hiding a pregnancy – or carrying a baby in her back – I think about my Bible College friend.
Recently, the New York Times published an article entitled: Why Women Hide Their Pregnancies. My first thought was, women (who aren’t attending a parochial high school or a seminary) hide their pregnancies?
For the rich and powerful, pregnancy might not be an obstacle — it might even help one’s career. But for the rest of us, it remains a hindrance.
Last year, our fave R&B singer Beyonce set a Twitter record after ending her performance by announcing the “the love growing inside” of her at last year’s VMA’s. However, the average woman doesn’t necessarily have the option of standing up in the middle of a boardroom, ripping back her blazer, and rubbing her stomach while beaming. Even if a woman does feel comfortable revealing the big news to her colleagues in a job she already has, some women wonder if they should bring up their positive pregnancy test results in a job interview.
Legally, a woman doesn’t have to reveal the fact that she’s pregnant. It’s against state and federal laws for potential employers to ask any questions about pregnancy, marital status, or even future family plans. Why? Because the law is trying to prevent those facts from being held against the woman while she’s being considered for a job.
New York Times’ Adventures In Parenting says:
A woman’s career is long, pregnancy short and maternity leave even shorter. But it’s hard to deny that a few months’ absence in the immediate future might reasonably concern an employer, and it’s also hard to deny that some women, although they expect to return from maternity leave, ultimately don’t. All of that makes job-hunting while pregnant tough on many levels.
If it does come up – or the baby bump is fairly obvious – federal law prohibits companies with 15 or more employees from discriminating against pregnant job seekers. Still, conventional wisdom says don’t bring it up to potential employers unless you want to risk clouding the interviewers judgment and losing out on the position as a result.
BabyCenter.com points out:
The truth is, despite legal protection against discrimination, most people are not going to hire you if you show up with a bun in the oven. It’s not just the maternity leave they dread. There is also the perception that once you become a mother you will be distracted, less available. You will need a pumping room and have to take a lot of sick days. In short, you won’t be as good an employee as a non-parent.
Of course, being a mother certainly doesn’t mean being a less-than-stellar employee but because of these kinds of deep-seated notions from both men and woman employers, some women opt to wait until they’ve gotten the job to reveal their pregnancy. Personally, I think it’s odd to bring it up then, like, “I got it? Thanks! I’ll see you on Monday, and by the way, I’m seven months pregnant Suckas!” That bait-and-switch approach would likely damage credibility and erode trust before it can even be built.
Alison Green, a blogger at “Ask A Manager,” advises, to wait until an offer is on the table, then discuss as part of the negotiation:
I wouldn’t raise it before you get an offer, because even at many family-friendly places and even despite the law that prohibits discriminating based on pregnancy, plenty of interviewers are still going to think, “We have that big event right when she’ll be out on maternity leave, and candidate B, who is not pregnant, would be able to be there for it.” It’s human nature. Don’t risk that.
If an employer has made you an offer, then finds out you’re pregnant he or she will likely not renege that offer because that would mean violating discrimination laws. Of course, employers have been accused of violating the law plenty of times, in fact, according to NYT: claims of discrimination to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission from pregnant women are increasing, having risen 23 percent from 2005 to 2011.
So, it seems the best way to prevent that sort of discrimination is to keep your baby news to yourself until an offer is on the table – or be like my Bible College friend and feign ignorance until the baby is on the table.
What do you think? Would you (or have you) hidden a pregnancy during a job interview? Have you ever been hired for a job while pregnant?
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