Since I started writing about the relationship between leadership and motherhood – just a year or so ago – the impact of being pregnant and having a baby on the one hand, and women and work on the other, has gone from back burner issue to front burner one. While a recent article in the New York Times does not focus on women and leadership per se, the relationship between women (at any level) getting pregnant and women climbing the professional ladder is clear. Put directly, women at work are penalized if they become pregnant.
The Times article is a terrific piece of investigative reporting. After reviewing thousands of pages of court and public records, and conducting dozens of interviews with women, their lawyers, and government officials, that authors concluded that a clear pattern emerged. “Many of the country’s largest and most prestigious companies still systematically sideline pregnant women. They pass them over for promotions and raises. They fire them when they complain.”*
While the article focused on the impact of pregnancy, it made clear that after a baby was born the differential between women and men became even greater. It cited a recent Census Bureau paper that found that two years before a couple had their first child, husbands made only slightly more than their wives. But, by the time their child turned 1, the size of the spousal pay gap had climbed to more than $25,000.
As I see it, most of the literature on women in the workplace, especially the literature on women and leadership, must be, if not amended, at least expanded. From this point on it must take into account how having a child impacts and influences a woman’s destiny – not only personally but professionally.
Natalie Kitroeff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg, “Penalizing Pregnancy, From Walmart to Wall St.” NYT, June 17, 2018. Also see my blogs dated, January 21, 2018; January 27, 2018; February 11, 2018; February 25, 2018; and March 14, 2018.