She waltzes into the room with her hair perfectly preened, a crisp suit and commands attention with her roaring voice.
“Any items on emerging issues?” The 14 staff members, a mixture of male and female, old and young, all nod their heads and look down at the table avoiding eye contact.
“What about you?” She gazes in my direction.
The whole room turns my way.
“How long are you taking off? She answers ‘A year?” before I respond.
“Who is taking your position?” barrages of questions continue.
My face burns as I feel like melting into my chair and disappearing. I should have answered, "YES, clearly I’m pregnant, I will take as little or as long as I want and it’s none of your goddamn business in such a public forum".
This woman isn’t my manager. I don’t report to her. Yet why is she making it her mission to make me feel like I’m incompetent because I’m six and a half months pregnant?
It continues the next day on a phone conference with several people.
“With all due respect, she will be finishing up soon, so it’s probably best we have another colleague to run the program who is here for the long term.”
“By the way, what’s happening to your position and when do you leave?”
Don’t get me wrong, 90 per cent of the men and women in my workplace have been supportive of my pregnancy. They treat me normal, not like I have a strange illness and have suddenly become incompetent to work or deliver on my deadlines.
But what’s happened to the sisterhood? Why is it becoming increasingly common in the workplace for other women to bully you simply because you are pregnant and to judge you because you are taking maternity leave?
We should focus on our abilities, strengths and capabilities in the workplace, pregnant or not. When I had my first child two years ago I have learnt that mothers are the most resilient, efficient and hard workers out there. Just because we have children, it doesn’t mean we are no longer able to work effectively.
With my second baby just months away I look forward to returning to work and being the same woman as I left, just more complete and with a few more life lessons under my belt.
Have you experienced discrimination in the workplace while pregnant?