“I remember the day when I told colleagues and friends that I planned to stop practicing law and start building a business. The puzzled looks and furrowed eyebrows were tell-tale signs that they didn’t understand how a woman with a thriving career and two children would want to leave a career she’d so passionately pursued for a decade. They hadn’t seen the pushback I faced in trying to attend doctor appointments or stay home with a sick baby. They also didn’t see how I was passed up for career-advancing work because it wasn’t clear to my superiors – most of whom were male – that I’d be up for the challenge because they made an assumption that I couldn’t devote the time.
My story isn’t as uncommon as you’d think, but it’s one that is only starting to pick up steam in the press and in everyday conversation. The New York Times recently published its investigation into pregnancy discrimination. The statistic that 43% of highly trained women with children will “offramp” from the workforce at some point in their career seems unsurprising when you read the stories of the women profiled who were pushed out of blue collar jobs and white collar corporate America.
And the discrimination continues well after your child is born. The “motherhood penalty,” as Cornell University sociologists have described it, is shown in the increasing pay gap between women and men after female employees come back from maternity leave and mothers being less likely to be hired for jobs and more likely to experience demotions. Mothers are also more likely to be flat out fired.”