Thousands of women globally have used social media to share their own stories of pregnancy discrimination in light of US Senator Elizabeth Warren’s own declaration that she was subjected to this in the early years of her teaching career.
“By the end of the first year, I was visibly pregnant, and the principal did what principals did in those days,” Warren told a Town Hall audience in Carson. “Wish me luck and hire someone else for the job.”
When Warren first made the claim last week, Republicans and certain media outlets jumped on the story; accusing her of fabricating an experience for political gain.
It’s a ridiculous position to take.
Because, as too many women acutely understand, pregnancy discrimination isn’t a rarity. Elizabeth Warren was let go from a teaching position in the early 1970s at the same time she started to look “visibly pregnant”. But in 2019, women are still routinely facing the same dire treatment.
While pregnancy discrimination is technically against the law in America and Australia, numerous organisations find ways to evade the fine print.
Here at Women’s Agenda, we receive hundreds of stories and emails each year from women who are at their wits end after being forced out of their jobs at an already financially precarious and emotionally vulnerable time.
In fact, according to latest research, a staggering 1 in 2 women in Australia have experienced pregnancy discrimination– ranging from having to deal with negative attitudes in the workplace, to dismissal from a role (often disguised as a redundancy).
For casual employees, the situation is particularly bleak and often takes a huge toll on their emotional and mental health for the remainder of their pregnancy and beyond.
Eighty-four per cent of mothers who experienced discrimination experienced a negative impact from the experience.
Despite fervent claims to the contrary, Elizabeth Warren’s story is painfully familiar. It’s little wonder the volume of women who have spoken up and out in solidarity.
Prominent US lawyer and politician, Amy Klobuchar tweeted that her own mother had met a similar fate to Warren:
My mom was told she had to quit teaching when she was pregnant with me. As @rweingarten points out here, this used to happen to teachers all the time. Thanks to @ewarren for sharing her story. https://t.co/LU0d1QJKmg
— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) October 9, 2019
While outspoken Democrats Senator Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez shared an encounter she’d had with a male manager who’d queried whether he could rescind a job offer he’d made on the basis of the woman’s pregnancy.
I was in a conversation*this year* w/ many people in the room &one guy asked if he could rescind a job offer if he found out a candidate was pregnant.
In my early 20s I was told that if I got engaged, don’t wear the ring to interviews to better my odds.
This is *present day.*
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) October 8, 2019
The fact that we’re arguing about how hard pregnant Elizabeth Warren was fired really speaks to level of misogyny in the culture right now. https://t.co/E8gaHizpml
— Molly Jong-Fast (@MollyJongFast) October 9, 2019