66 Percent of Women Think Pregnancy Puts Their Career at Risk — Do You?

Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump
Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

A surprising new poll performed by MaternityCover.com found that more than two-thirds of women feel like they’re risking their jobs by taking maternity leave.

The study asked 1,3000 women how they feel about their careers and a shocking seven-in-ten admitted that they feel their job is more vulnerable if they take their maternity leave. Paul Jenkins, Chief Executive of MaternityCover.com, found that at least half of the women polled would consider hiding their pregnancy from their boss if they were offered a new job or promotion — and the current economic climate has done nothing to ease women’s concerns. At least 650 women revealed that they are concerned that they risk their long-term career prospects by taking time off to be with their babies, even though the law states that women are allowed maternity leave. In the US, women get a standard of 12 weeks maternity leave while in the UK, women can take 26 weeks of standard maternity leave. In Canada, moms are allowed to take a year off to be with their babies (pretty amazing, huh?!).

MaternityCover.com, based in the UK, found that three-in-four working moms felt that their chances of promotion worsened after they gave birth because they felt as though they had been passed over in favor of other colleagues who were not mothers. Jenkins said, “Women face countless unspoken taboos when it comes to having children and maintaining a career. Our survey, Boardrooms and Babies, makes this all too clear.”

Jenkins and his team of researchers said that from the results, they found that more than two-thirds of women felt they earned less after they’d had a baby. But that wasn’t true for all women: 5 percent reported that their salaries had actually increased since giving birth. “We wanted to drill down into what women really experience, practically and financially, in the workplace when a baby appears on the scene.”

The most depressing statistic, however, came when the 1,300 women were asked whether or not they returned to work sooner than expected — and why. More than half said they returned sooner due to money worries and four-out-of-five women reported that taking the time off to be with baby put them in debt.

“Only by lifting the lid in this way can we encourage conversation and improve communication between everyone involved,” Jenkins added. The UK-based recuritment site offers moms-to-be and their employers replacement, temporary employees while women are on standard maternity leave. They used the parenting site, NetMums.com, to help them perform the research.

Do you agree with the findings in this study? Do you think women should have more flexible maternity leave without fear of competition in the workplace?

Plus, more from The Bump:

10 Hardest Parts About Maternity Leave (and How to Deal)

How Much Maternity Leave Do I Get?

Maternity Leave Around the World: How Does Yours Measure Up?