When you’re pregnant, people assume a lot of things. Like you can’t carry anything. Or that you must want to sit down even if you’re perfectly happy standing. And if these assumptions are happening to the everyday pregnant woman, it’s not surprising that pregnant job seekers face all kinds of stereotyping and discrimination. If you’re pregnant, you might be hesitant to go looking for a new job because of those stereotypes and assumptions by future employers. But whether you’re just looking to make a job change or you’re recently unemployed and have to find a job regardless of your pregnant state, you shouldn’t be intimidated or scared to go on that job interview for your dream job. A new study showed that while pregnant women are more likely to experience discrimination in the job search process than non-pregnant women, they can minimize bias by addressing negative pregnancy stereotypes in the application process.
The study looked at four stereotypes toward pregnant job applicants — incompetence, lack of commitment, inflexibility and need for accommodation — and how these stereotypes can be refuted. In the study, 161 retailers in three malls in a major metropolitan area confirmed that they were hiring. The experiment measured both formal discrimination, like whether applicants were told a job was available and allowed to apply, and interpersonal discrimination, like whether sales personnel seemed awkward or treated the applicant rudely.
It turned out that pregnant job applicants did receive more interpersonal hostility than do non-pregnant job applicants. But the study also showed that pregnant women who addressed these stereotypes when inquiring about jobs — particularly their personal levels of commitment and flexibility — were nearly three times less likely to experience interpersonal discrimination than pregnant job applicants who said nothing to combat pregnancy stereotypes.
It stands to reason this would hold true in any job situation to some extent, not just retail. So if you’re looking for work, don’t be afraid to walk in with that pregnant belly. While you’re not required by law to reveal your pregnancy in an interview, not letting it be an elephant in the room might take away some of the disadvantages. So address your commitment to the job and your plans for returning to work post-pregnancy. Because while discrimination exists and you may feel bias in the job-interview process, you can do something about it by taking the bull by the horns!
Have you ever gone on a job interview when pregnant? What tips do you have for pregnant job seekers? —Erin