When Camila McConaughey found out she was pregnant with baby number three, she was signed on to model for Macy's INC International Concepts' campaign. But the campaign didn't hire a pregnant woman so she worried they wouldn't want a pregnant model working for them. Yes, she's a model and her looks are everything, but Camila said it's all worked out and she didn't lose her job. Which is a big sigh of relief. Great on the company's part -- no woman deserves to lose her job because she's pregnant. Yet women everywhere -- women who aren't models and whose looks aren't a part of their job -- have been fired or laid off when their bosses found out they were expecting.
Fired for being pregnant. Totally wrong. Should be illegal. But it's not.
Of course, Yahoo sent a strong message when they hired Marissa Mayer as their CEO when she was pregnant. Though Mayer did say that she would work through her maternity leave and only expects she will be away from work for a few weeks. Which makes me sad. Did she set a standard by saying that? I feel like she had to say something because far too many were overly concerned about Yahoo's decision to hire a pregnant woman who would take a leave after baby arrives leaving Yahoo to crumble into a mess. We all know that wouldn't happen, but many do think that way. She, like all women, should be able to take the maternity leave she wants to take without having to justify it. But some in the big power world of business see maternity leave as a weakness. Which means essentially that they see women who have children as weak employees. Undesirable workers.
Sure there are risks involved with having a pregnant worker -- they need to take time off for appointments at the doctor, then there is maternity leave, and sometimes they finish out however long that leave is and then decide to stay home with their child. But there are risks with any worker staying at a job forever -- male or female.
I know someone who lost their job because she got pregnant. It wasn't a case for a lawyer because they said they were eliminating her position. They did. But they just re-named it and hired someone else to do the same work. I also know women who are putting off starting a family because their job is just too much and they can't afford to leave it to have a baby.
All of this tells me that far too much of our society sees women as weaker workers. We get paid less than men for the same job. We are told we are obscene for feeding our baby. We have a pathetic maternity leave policy if we have one at all.
Family. Seen as a weakness. Maybe the candidates who talk about their family values should also consider the real core values of families all over, particularly mothers, and protect us more. Women shouldn't be in fear of losing their jobs because they are pregnant, whether we are famous like Camila McConaughey or not. The biggest worry we should have is just how to tell your boss you're pregnant -- not the repercussions from it. Babies make the world go round. Continue the human race. Grow up to be (hopefully) great contributors to society. The very people who fire women for being pregnant were babies once, too. Maybe if more people remember that, things will change. We all have mothers. All mothers should be respected.
Do you know of any women who lost their job after becoming pregnant? Is it fair?
Image via David Boyle/Flickr