"Pregnant Bosses" Website & Campaign Reminds Us That Motherhood Isn't A Liability In The Workplace
Stories abound of women being discriminated against at work for being pregnant and judged as less competent employees because they're moms. To combat these absurd beliefs, Emissaries’ "Pregnant Bosses" website and campaign, which launched on Monday, flips that narrative on its head by showcasing women who are pregnant and kicking butt at work. Through profiles of pregnant women in prominent positions, Pregnant Bosses sends the inspiring message that being a mom can not only not be a disadvantage to women's careers, but that it can often be asset.
This message is necessary in a culture that treats pregnancy like a liability in the workplace. Over 5,000 pregnancy discrimination suits were filed in the United States in 2013. And even when they're not facing outright discrimination, pregnant people often get lousy treatment from their employers and the government. The United States only grants women three months of maternity leave and doesn't grant them any paid leave, while only 16 percent of American companies offer paid maternity leave.
On top of that, women are taught that they can't have it all — that is, that they need to sacrifice either their work or their family in order to achieve their goals, and that it's impossible to do both. But Emissaries Founder Michelle Meyer said in a press release that in her own experience, this could not be further from the truth. "I’ve been so surprised to find that pregnancy has actually pushed me to expedite my professional goals," she said. "Some [pregnant women] feel more professionally motivated and supported than ever before and others face unjust challenges of additional gender discrimination. These stories are too moving not to share and thus #PregnantBosses was created.”
#PregnantBosses is also a social media campaign for people to celebrate the pregnant bosses in their own lives.
The women featured on Pregnant Bosses answer the question, "How has pregnancy affected your professional goals?" — and their answers are overwhelmingly positive. "Working to support a family is the greatest motivation!" said Devon Kisgen, the Director of Integrated Marketing at Los Angeles magazine. "I have learnt to take this opportunity to break [pregnancy-related] stereotypes by continuing to be a star performer but also using this time to educate people on the challenges that our work environments can pose to pregnant women and working mothers," said Matilda Sung, who runs digital media strategy for the National Football League. "Pregnancy has forced me to work ahead in a way I've never been able to," said Jeana McDonough, Senior Director of National Events at iHeartMedia.
Unfortunately, though, others' treatment hasn't always reflected the capabilities of pregnant women. "I had investors ask me to stand up and twirl around and others who spent an abnormal amount of time asking me baby related questions," said Talia Goldstein, CEO and founder of Three Day Rule. "Of the nine investors who invested in that round, not one put money in while meeting me pregnant."
These women also offer some encouraging advice for other women looking to start families and advance their careers at the same time. "If you want a family, do it. You will find a way to make it work," said Goldstein. "Don't let the stereotypes scare you — if you want to have a family and still have a career, you can," echoed brand marketing specialist Renee Hyde. "Trust yourself enough to know you'll make it work — you're already a girl boss, you'll become a pregnant boss!"
That's a message a lot of career-oriented people planning on starting families could stand to hear.