I am currently pregnant with my first baby. I have recently been actively encouraged by my employer to apply for a big promotion that has just opened up. They are very supportive about the potential to fast-track the application before I start maternity leave and to find an intermediate solution to accommodate my being away for 12 months. I am very torn between pushing on in my career and taking the opportunity to focus on my family life and not overstretch myself on my return to work next year.
While working in academia, I witnessed colleagues being asked about their plans for children when applying for promotions. I left academic science six years ago as the working conditions were not ones where a woman with aspirations for both a career and a family could get on – long hours, short-term contracts and pay that was too low to save for a home. Mandatory HR training for all managers about gender discrimination, to prevent them asking about family plans during job interviews would be a move in the right direction, as would more support for women who want to challenge their employers when they think they have been discriminated against.