When I was pregnant with my first child, I was also seeking temporary work and was repeatedly passed over in favour of non pregnant people. All my interviews went really, everything was promising until they saw my bump! I was looking for temporary work during the tourist season when such jobs are in plentiful supply but not to pregnant ladies it seems. So I didn’t get to find work. I was also a student at the time, studying for an honours degree. My university had suggested I defer my studies but I refused and they respected my decision. I was living in a shared flat with my partner, we had little in the way of funds and were facing homelessness after the landlord decided to sell. The landlords brother shared the flat with us and regularly invited his male friends to stay, they brought drugs and were generally rowdy so I phoned the police as I feared for my safety but they did not take us seriously, not even the fact that illegal drugs were in the house. So we applied to the council for social housing, CAB advised us we would be prioritized but the council told us the waiting list was long and they could not offer us anything. We had been tax payers all our lives and this was a kick in teeth to find there was no state help. At that stage we were not aware of benefits or that we might be eligible for any.
After baby was born I completed my degree and we survived on my partners wage and student finance. However I struggled to find work after I graduated and references were made to my being a mother with commitments, which is illegal. I signed up for jobseekers and worked very hard to find a job. I was turned down for toilet cleaning and other menial low paid jobs when I mentioned needing to adjust my hours slightly for childcare. I became pregnant again whilst on jobseekers and suffered a miscarriage. Just two weeks after the event and bleeding heavily I had to sign on or face sanctions. We were sanctioned for the time I couldn’t go in due to my being in hospital for an emergency scan and I had to take out a bank loan to feed my family which I later struggled to pay back and that has affected my credit rating.
When my partner completed his degree and began to look for work he got offers almost immediately, within months of me being turned down for the same companies. It seemed to me that being a man meant he was seen as more reliable. As a woman of child bearing age, I am a liability. Also I have now been out of work since 2008, partly because of the recession, lack of jobs and partly because I have children. The one job interview I got based on my language skills in a field where there was a shortage of language speakers didn’t last long. I started out on a temporary contract which was to become permanent. Then I became pregnant and the contract was not renewed surprise surprise.
I think by the time I am ready to look for work again, when my children are older, I will struggle even more because of how long it has been since I worked. Before I became pregnant I had good jobs and always did very well. I know it isn’t me as a person but its my gender which counts against me. I have given up looking for work to concentrate on my family. We are not so well off and stuck paying enormous rent to a private landlord and because of poor credit ratings we are struggling to save enough for a mortgage deposit.
I paid into and supported the system but have found it does not support pregnant women or woman who choose to bring up their children themselves. In fact we are punished and looked down upon for being stay at home mothers. I am an intelligent and educated woman with qualifications but none of that counts and perhaps by the time I can get another job I will be classed as too old because ageism also exists. I feel I can’t really win. I could have been a career woman without kids and led an empty life full of regret or I can be what I am now but experience poverty and discrimination for it.
Things need to change, mothers need to be valued again and pregnant women should be treated equally. I could also mention breastfeeding mothers but that is another can of worms. There are some laws to protect us but it seems to be that they are not being upheld. So women are still second class citizens it seems.