November 18, 2022

Remote Work a Boon for Pregnant Workers?

                   

Green coffee mug sitting next to a laptop with a Zoom conference on the screen.

         

For most pregnant people, at some point, a pregnancy isn’t something they can hide. Starting to “show” unleashes a flood of questions from strangers, family, and friends about names, breastfeeding, and due dates that can range from simply innocuous to downright intrusive. More invasive is the unwanted touch–or, at work, the “well-intentioned” reduction of an expectant mother’s workload. 

But with the wholesale adoption of remote work, the situation has changed dramatically for working women, writes Sarah Kessler in the New York Times. While acknowledging that many pregnant women during the pandemic still had no option but to attend work in person, Kessler notes that for those fortunate enough to be able to work from home, the small box containing their faces no longer broadcasts impending parenthood. Instead, women are able to focus on work, an act of normalcy expectant parents who aren’t pregnant have always enjoyed.

Kessler writes that she could deal with her morning sickness and change in appearance without the intrusion of co-workers into what is often a private matter.  She was able to switch from pants to leggings without scrutiny and eat saltines to relieve her nausea off-camera. 

These circumstances may also have a positive effect on the illegal–but all too common–practices of not promoting or giving raises to expectant mothers, or worse, forcing them out of a job altogether. Expectant mothers also experience less mentorship or support at work once they disclose their pregnancy. 

Kessler’s article includes insights from many interviewees who describe how different their pregnancies were behind the mask of Zoom and it’s well worth reading to find at least a small silver lining in what has been a difficult two years for working parents.

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