Pregnancy Week 21: Should You Go For A Promotion While Pregnant?

Pregnant woman leading meeting


April 15, 2024 at 5:37AM UTC
At first blush, this question might seem out of the question. Take more responsibility while you’ve already got so much (or soon will) on your plate?

While a promotion isn’t right or possible for everyone, it might not be as crazy a question as you think. The reason is that with a promotion comes more pay and control. And probably at no other time will you want more pay and control than you’ll need as a new mom.

Isabella Brusati, a change management consultant, believes that women should apply for promotions even if they are pregnant. 

She says: “More senior positions mean more flexibility in terms of how women can use their working time. As long as you reach your targets, you are not as heavily scrutinized as more junior individuals. Again, this is not being devious, it is about pursuing your career and making the best out of it. The more senior you are, the more indispensable you would be.”

Our co-founder Georgene Huang asked for (and got) a promotion while on maternity leave. At the time, she remembers asking her husband if he thought it was the right timing to take on more responsibility at work. His answer was unequivocally “yes.” She says:
I remember nodding along while he reminded me there are things that happen on a timetable that is out of your control. You have to go for opportunities when they appear and not when it’s convenient for you. Plus, if you don’t pursue it, you may not be invited, particularly because you just had a baby and people may assume you don’t want it. If you wait until you feel more comfortable and “safe” about the timing, that role may no longer be there.
While there were absolutely certain elements of the new role and responsibility that made her life more stressful, overall, she doesn’t regret her decision to go for it. She did have to sacrifice some time with her baby, but it wasn’t much more than she would have had to had she not taken the promotion. Plus, she was compensated in terms of better day-to-day control over her schedule and financially. Both were important to her, as well as to her growing family. 

Of course, not everyone is in the same situation, and some promotions are more meaningful and demanding than others. However, the point is that you shouldn’t absolutely rule out the idea of getting a promotion or taking a big job while pregnant.

Perhaps the most famous case of this is Marissa Mayer, who accepted her job as CEO of Yahoo when she was pregnant with twin girls. She was the first woman to ever take a top job of such a large, high-profile company while pregnant.

Given how much attention she received for being pregnant, this story seemed to fascinate the world and probably put a lot of pressure on Mayer to perform. It may or may not be related to her decision to take a controversially short maternity leave as well.

At any case, it’s more than fine to decide a promotion isn’t in the works for you or your family. It’s a big decision, and there’s nothing wrong with putting job and career ambitions on hold during this time of transition. The point is this: if you are interested in one, don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t think you’re crazy (or alone).

And be sure to treat it like any career decision. As one of our favorite advocates for women (and women who embrace their power), Gloria Feldt has said, “You don’t get what you don’t ask for!”

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