Report: Having It All Is Unlikely

Image: AP

Further propping up women’s case to prove that the problem isn’t our illogical brains, the New York Times has compiled watertight evidence showing that workplace pregnancy discrimination is pandemic. We know this in the United States, the only industrialized country without paid maternity leave. Mothers around the world know this from the extensively-researched motherhood penalty including findings such as that women who have resumé gaps due to motherhood, rather than unemployment, are about half as likely to get job callbacks. Now we have heaping evidence that women are discriminated against as early as pregnancy, you know, on top of the process of growing a human.

Reportedly culling from thousands of pages of court documents from discrimination lawsuits and complaints from the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and dozens of interviews, the Times reports stories of women from department stores to corporate offices which outright fire, demote, and belittle women for being pregnant. One Walmart employee reportedly suffered this nightmare:

She was five months pregnant, and the smell of the cleaning fluids nauseated her. She complained several times to a manager, who refused to permanently reassign her to another position. So she kept cleaning bathrooms, often pausing to vomit.


After her doctor warned that the chemicals were harmful to her and her baby, she was reassigned to clean the doors which still entailed working with chemicals. Eventually, she tells the Times, she was fired because of missed shifts eight months into her pregnancy.

There are more: a trader was told that pregnancy changes women’s brains, a pharmaceutical salesperson that she should “consider an abortion,” and another was demoted for taking maternity leave–and these are just a few examples of stories detailed in class-action gender discrimination lawsuits such as one including around 3,900 women against the pharmaceutical company Merck and 5,600 against Novartis, as well as a class-action suit by pregnant workers against Walmart (the latest in Walmart’s rich history of class action gender discrimination litigation).

So til parity, if you can just plan your baby around the “10-Year Baby Window”–have one before or after ages 25-35–you might catch up to the father’s wages. To crunch those numbers, just chop four percent off hourly wages per baby and add six percent to the father’s wages and subtract lost wages from maternity leave and factor in the cost of childcare and then weigh the true value of what really matters in life, and aim for that.

Staff reporter, Gizmodo. wkimball @ gizmodo

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