Is your commitment to work being unfairly judged simply because you are a mom? A recent survey by Aeroflow Breastpumps shows that as many as 62.61% of working moms feel as if a negative stigma is attached to moms who breastfeed at work, even though moms are an incredibly valuable resource. Put an end to being unfairly judged by a prospective employer by learning to recognize the following signs, then take action to cut down on discrimination.
If you’re entering a judgmental work environment, your prospective supervisor and coworkers may voice their concerns directly to you or to each other during your interview process. However, those concerns are generally tied to unfair assumptions and false stigmas attached to working moms.
You may be asked unfair questions such as:
“You won’t have time to work full time as a mom, right?”
“Isn't your focus now more about your family instead of work?”
“Wasn’t your maternity leave a nice vacation?”
Potential employers that judge working mothers may view mothers as less capable due to needing more workplace flexibility. You may be more harshly reprimanded for being late, needing to leave early, or working from home.
Often there isn’t any understanding for not being able to make a 4:30pm meeting due to having to pick your child up from daycare or dropping everything to leave if your child is sick.
As supervisors believe you’ll actually work fewer hours after giving birth, you may be viewed as unable to keep up and given less important assignments until you’re able to prove yourself again.
While this isn’t an issue for only working moms because all women face wage discrimination, working women are paid even less after giving birth. In 2017, women received about 80 cents for every dollar a man earned, resulting in a gender wage gap of about 20%.
Due to taking more time off and requiring more breaks, employers often justify paying moms less. One study showed that after giving birth, a mother’s pay decreased by 30% and never fully recovered. Women without children continued to increase their pay and men with children actually earn more.
When talking to prospective employers, be aware and make sure any offer is not lower than what it should be, simply because you are a working mom.
Moms can easily have their talent and ambitions ignored, as supervisors simply don’t pay attention to their ideas. Your questions may go unanswered and comments during interviews may be brushed off.
In some cases, new moms find themselves no longer being invited to meetings or interviews. This is because some employers take ‘mom brain’ seriously and feel as if moms can’t contribute as much. While you may be exhausted, having a baby does not make you less of an employee or intellectual.
Many mothers choose to become stay at home moms after having their child or may only return to work part-time. However, many mothers also return to full-time positions or seek better opportunities.
Even though women are the primary earners in 40% of households, they face the gender bias of not being expected to work full-time after having a baby. While you’re expecting, you may be asked if you can keep up while only working part-time. Also, you might have to correct the assumption that you won’t be returning to your full-time position even if you never indicated that would be the case.
After giving birth you might as well have “mom” tattooed on your forehead, because in some instances, that’s all your prospective colleagues will see. Instead of being seen as an individual you might be constantly referred to as a mom or be asked about motherhood instead of about yourself.
If the questions in your interviews start to be more about being a mom vs. your qualifications, shift the focus back on what you bring to the table from a talent and experience standpoint.
As women make up half of the workforce, mothers are unfairly seen as less capable when in reality working moms are actually more productive. Modern advances have made it easier for women to balance family and work life, and many working moms are more than able to maintain their career goals. It’s time we all play an active role in breaking through the myths and biases associated with breastfeeding moms in the workplace.
Jennifer Jordan is the Director of Mom & Baby at Aeroflow Healthcare, a durable medical equipment provider that has provided breast pumps through insurance to hundreds of thousands of women. A working and once-breastfeeding mom, Jennifer - along with her team - is committed to supporting all moms on their breastfeeding journey through support, education, and exceptional customer service.