October 28, 2020

“Many are afraid to tell their companies that they are pregnant”

Motherhood reveals to many women a reality full of conditions, discrimination and resignations. Also that terms such as “conciliation” or “co-responsibility” often move on the theoretical plane but have not reached real life. “We receive many messages from women who are afraid to tell their companies that they are pregnant because what is transmitted to them is: look, all this is what happens to you when you get pregnant,” said Laura Baena, founder of the Club de Malasmadres , during the presentation this Tuesday of the survey “The invisible ones”, within the framework of the conference for the conciliation “I do not resign”, the next September 30 and October 1. There are voices that have named this systematic harassment of pregnant women in the workplace: ‘maternal mobbing’.

Of the nearly 95,000 women who responded to the survey across the country, 75% said they had seen their working lives affected by becoming a mother, of which 37% suffered direct discrimination. Changes in the functions of the company to others with less responsibility, the inability to grow professionally or suffer some kind of discrimination from their colleagues are some of the most common consequences, according to this study. Emilia de Sousa, an expert lawyer in family and conciliation, explains that “maternal mobbing is much more common than is thought and in most cases it goes unpunished because pregnant or postpartum women tend to be more vulnerable, they end up prioritizing their personal situation at work and the company takes advantage of this ”.

Maternal mobbing, she says, begins even before a woman is pregnant or has children. De Sousa speaks of “statistical discrimination” when not as many women as men are hired because they can become mothers, even if they never think of being one.

“Women are not required to communicate that they are pregnant in a job interview. Not communicating it cannot imply any punishment unless the company can prove, let’s say, bad faith in that action. If it is advisable to inform the employer when there may be risks to the woman or the fetus due to the characteristics of the job, you need to adapt the functions, have the option of hours to go to reviews… ”, clarifies De Sousa.

The Bad Mothers Club and the Yo No Renuncio Association believe that a way to tackle these discriminations “are conciliation measures that truly satisfy our needs. In addition to flexible hours, which is key, one of the most effective measures is has proven that it is the compaction of the working day, “says Laura Baena. However, only 16% of the women who responded to the survey say they have intensive working hours throughout the year, with a significant difference between the private sector (13% ) and the public sector (23%). “This makes conciliation impossible, points out Baena, because you end up reducing your working day, asking for a leave of absence or simply being fired from work.”

The report shows that 22% of the interviewees have lost their job when they became a mother, either because their contract was not renewed or because they were fired when they became pregnant, and that one in ten quit their job because they could not combine it with the cares. De Sousa says that she has worked with women who were relegated from their post when they arrived from maternity leave, or who were offered conditions “that are impossible to accept if you have to take care of them, thus forcing them to resign.”

Mothers and caregivers

The survey “Las invisibles” shows that motherhood also uncovers a chain of inequalities within the home, where gender roles that make mothers responsible for household chores and for education and raising children are maintained. Maite Egoscozabal, an expert sociologist in conciliation and author of the report, assures that “care has a woman’s face” and that in this process “women experience loneliness”.

The survey measures, on the one hand, the support structures that families have and, on the other, how mothers emotionally manage the weight of the home. The conclusion is that seven out of ten women feel alone in parenting due to a lack of co-responsibility and support, and six out of ten feel guilty because “they don’t get to everything”.

While in the first weeks, coinciding with parental leave, the mother’s main support is the father (75% of cases), in the 0 to 3-year stage the main support becomes the grandmother. 37% of childcare is in charge of the schools, but when it comes to family members, those who take care of the upbringing most are mothers (29%), grandmothers (18%) and, finally , male couples (6%). The same dynamic when the child falls ill on a working day: those who are absent the most from work are mothers and grandmothers, with more than 35% both compared to 8% of the couple.

It is this lack of support structures, both in the family and in the company, the main reason why 60% of the women interviewed who are mothers did not have more children, although they would like to. “We often see how the decision not to be a mother is associated with selfishness and it can be analyzed if there is a change in values ​​in that sense that respond to the decision-making capacity of women, but the underlying reality is discrimination and precariousness work that leads women to give up what would be their ideal, “concludes Maite Egoscozabal.


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