Why does the perception of “baby brain” continue after it has been proven that a woman’s brain becomes sharper as her body prepares to give birth?
Clearly some people still think that pregnant women are less competent and/or distracted. While few managers would come out and say, “We can’t have you on this new account with your baby brain,” the attitude is alive and well.
It is unlawful to ascribe things to a pregnant worker that a manager would not ascribe to other workers. For example, firing a pregnant woman for coming in late because she’s tired while giving other late-arriving workers a pass is illegal.
You note that a man's resume indicating that he has children is more likely to get a job interview than if that same resume belonged to a woman. What can be done to balance that?
We have to keep raising these issues. Companies should not get away with it. A bright spot is that millennial men don’t view things the same way as their fathers. They want the flexibility to stay home with their children. So as millennials move up into management positions, there will be less of this kind of thing.
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As a result of your work advocating for those who've been discriminated against in the workplace, do you have any comments on how we as a society can fix many of the issues?
We need public policy that supports work flexibility. Pregnant workers, parents with young kids, even non-parents—they all need time off. The U.S. is one of the only countries in the world that doesn’t offer any paid leave. The FMLA is the only federal law that requires leave of any type, and it’s not paid. No one can afford that. We would work better with eight weeks of vacation, or vacation time that an employee can actually take.
President Obama mandated recently that federal contractors must offer a certain amount of paid sick leave days, but right now companies are not required to offer paid sick leave, paid leave, or flexible work schedules that would in fact all help improve the work force. We would still be better off as a country if we had these policies. Most people want to work. Most people want to pay their mortgage.
Who did you write this book for?
Anyone who is in a bad place at work. Workers who are pregnant, sick, or are caring for a loved one are particularly vulnerable. People who hire lawyers are not “whiners.” If you just “suck it up,” the company wins. I like justice.
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