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To Tell or Not to Tell: Disclosing Your Pregnancy to Potential Employers

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There are a lot of things that are considered when you’re applying for a job. But some can be more complicated than others, in this case, it’s pregnancy. How do you navigate job hunting while you’re pregnant? Are there rules you need to subscribe to in order to know whether to disclose your pregnancy or not to your potential employer? This article tries to make sense of these questions in a time when pregnancy still seems to be a factor in your employment. "

"If you haven’t had children, employers regard you as an “extra-large time bomb” that will explode twice [take maternity leave twice]. If you’ve had one child, you’re a “time bomb” likely to have a second child at any time. If you already have two children, you must be too busy taking care of the children so [you] can’t focus on work".

— A popular saying on the Chinese internet describing the impossible position working women face under China’s two-child policy

There are so many things that come into play when you’re being considered for a job by a potential employer. You will be assessed on your suitability, qualifications and cultural fit, these are all the things that will determine whether a job offer is presented or not.

After several rounds of interviewing and doing your level best to impress your prospective employer, you made it through to the final-round interview, and now you’re waiting to hear whether or not you’re hired. This stretch of time for jobseekers is the most agonising - but luckily for you the call comes back from the recruiter and it’s the four words you’ve been waiting to hear: You’ve got the job!

If you’re newly pregnant, this may bring you mixed emotions--the joy of being offered the job but also a moment of dread and internal conflict as you ask yourself whether it’s the best move to tell your prospective employer whether you are pregnant or wait until you start with your new job.

Are there actually rules women should follow when job hunting while pregnant? Hear us out for we will share some insights on how you should handle your employment process while you’re pregnant.

To tell or not to tell

Pregnancy is a very happy and special occasion. Although, when we’re talking about employment, there’s no denying that it can affect your job, whether you’re already employed or still on the lookout for one. If you’re pregnant and you’re looking for a job, one thought that may be daunting is whether you should disclose it or not to a potential employer. You’re thinking that this might affect their evaluation or decision whether to hire you or not and I’ll assure you that this is a valid line of thought.

It can be difficult to disclose your pregnancy to your prospective employers because of the idea that you may lose on a job offer. Research shows that due to gender norms, women are at a disadvantage of being hired because of their likelihood of becoming pregnant and having to be involved in childcare.

Technically, you are not held by any legal obligation to disclose your pregnancy to a potential employer. Some may say that it is ideal to relay such information throughout your process of applying for a job just so you can secure the necessary arrangements that you will need to take care of your pregnancy while you work. This is, of course, the ideal scenario--you being offered a job by your prospective employer with the proper accommodations you need to cater to your pregnancy. And I would love to tell you that every company would provide you with such an opportunity but I’m afraid that’s not the case.

You need to be comfortable with how you’ll bring your pregnancy up. You may choose to open it up in the later stages of your interviewing process or you may decide to be upfront about it--the choice is yours.

Whatever the outcome, it all depends on your potential employer. They may be welcoming or not. If yes, then that’s amazing for you, if not, that’s definitely not on you and I’m sure there are other organizations who would not give you a negative response.

Nonetheless, what still needs to be addressed is how pregnancy is still a factor in employment. The fact alone that you need to navigate how to disclose your pregnancy as you seek employment raises issues in gender-biased organizational cultures that do not favor women because of reasons they cannot change.

Why is pregnancy a factor?

Motherhood, even if it’s something that comes to women as naturally as can be, is still considered a factor in employment. This can be because of an outdated idea that pregnancy can disrupt an organization’s workflow because pregnant women are kept away from their work.

Throughout history and all over the world, many laws and policies were put in place to put an end to pregnancy discrimination in the workplace so as to protect women from being deprived of opportunities simply because of their pregnancy.

Even so, pregnancy discrimination still seems to persist in many organizations, especially in male-dominated industries. It can usually be rooted in deeply-held biases, both unconscious and not, that supports the saying above--that employers perceive women as ticking time bombs just because they are capable of being pregnant--that a woman’s pregnancy can hinder a company’s growth.

Such thinking obviously stems from gender biases that have been existing in the workplace for a long time now, which do nothing but prevent women from striving to reach their career goals.  Pregnancy is a factor in employment because of age-old beliefs that dictate women’s place in society and the workplace. Even though policies and laws are in place to prevent pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, we can still see women be victim to it. Findings from a research on pregnancy and maternity discrimination show that even though some organizations welcome pregnant women with open arms, there are still those that treat pregnant women and working mothers so poorly that they end up either not pursuing the job they applied for or leaving their job.

As we come to terms with these things that continue to persist, how do we move forward and foster a workplace that treats women better?

Shifting perspectives, resetting mindsets

The fact that pregnancy is considered as a factor in providing career opportunities for women is very telling of how the workplace treats women. What we need is a shift in perspectives and a reset in mindsets with how we view pregnancy in connection with the workplace. Women should not do a double-take on whether they will be disclosing their pregnancy or not in a job interview because they fear it will affect their qualifications for a job.

Women shouldn’t be made to feel that their pregnancy can factor in whether they’ll get a job or not. Women should be as comfortable as possible with their pregnancy and their career and it’s time to overcome outmoded biases that do nothing but disadvantage women. 

Half the Sky's mission is to supply the tools that can give every woman the ability to build a successful career and be fully prepared for the future of work. So, that they can lead a healthy, prosperous and more balanced/blended lifestyle of their choosing.  By building your confidence, you’re setting foundations to empower yourself and your career.  The world is your oyster, and it starts with you. 

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