Three months into a new role I was told that I hadn’t passed my probation. It came as a bit of a shock as up until that point I’d received glowing feedback on all of my work and there was no mention of a problem. The reason given was that I’d not demonstrated my aptitude for the ‘client facing’ work I’d been hired to do. The reality was that since telling my manager I was pregnant I hadn’t been allowed to do any client facing work. Instead I’d been given the menial tasks of processing invoices day in, day out, while the promise of the ‘client work’ kept being dangled in front of me: ‘we’ll announce you to the client at the next team meeting/when Raj comes back/when you cover for Amy…’ and on it went. I was never introduced to the client, never given the chance to show that I can do that part of the role and to add insult to injury I was also reprimanded for taking too much time out for antenatal appointments (for which I had taken annual leave!) and for having a short bout of pregnancy related sickness (during which time I worked from home).
The head of the department also felt it appropriate to tell me during my ‘extended probation’ meeting that I really should have told her I was pregnant at the job interview, (at which point I was about 8 weeks pregnant – early days), presumably so she could have discriminated against me there and then by choosing not to give me the job. Think of the time I could have saved her!
I never felt gender inequality so acutely until I was discriminated against during my pregnancy. Although I was, of course, aware of the gender pay gap I’d always counted myself as a successful young woman to whom this unfairness didn’t really apply – a law graduate working in soul-less city jobs, I’d earned significantly more than my civil servant husband, 10 years my senior. But the way I was treated while I was pregnant? I am infuriated by the injustice.
Why are women so maligned. I am yet to meet any man who is a match to my talent, intelligence, creativity, diligence, humour and kindness.
But I also have a uterus. So don’t worry, I’ll work for free.