My boss said how women ‘screwed companies over’ by getting pregnant and how there’s no help for small businesses.

I was asked in a job interview nine years ago whether I was planning to have children. I thought it was slightly inappropriate but wasn’t planning on any anytime soon and it was a really good job opportunity. I loved the people I worked with and for but there was a definite sexist attitude (oh, but we’re only joking, they’d say). I have a very good sense of humour but there are times when trying to be funny doesn’t quite cover being sexist. My boss said how women ‘screwed companies over’ by getting pregnant and how there’s no help for small businesses. I sympathised, to some degree, for owners of small businesses as I appreciate it is difficult, but when I had eyes rolled at me at the mention of mat leave and offered no more than statutory mat pay I didn’t feel it was fair to put me under criticism. In my eyes it did him a favour because I saved him money, paying less for my cover and nothing for me. He accommodated me by letting me go to extra appointments because I had a medical condition, but he said it was taking the piss behind my back. I felt really awkward, especially because I’d heard the way he spoke about my other female colleague who had been on Mat leave the year before. While on my Mat leave he asked to meet me for a coffee where he asked me whether I was coming back. He said my role was not what it once was and that I would be bored working for him. I felt a little pushed into a corner as I didn’t have to decide anything for a few months but left the meeting having handed in my notice which I didn’t really plan to do (though I hadn’t been happy for a while so I just thought I was better walking away from the job, but maybe that’s what he wanted?). I hadn’t been happy with the general ‘harmless’ sexism towards me and the fact that the other woman who worked there got constantly bitched about. I also found out that my male equivalent was on £6k more than me a year. My boss has since said he will think twice before employing another woman. I feel these comments are unfair as I worked incredibly hard for him, working out of hours and coming up with business ideas. The very next week I had several emails finalising my leaving dates etc. which I found incredibly insensitive when it didn’t have to be done till a few months later, especially as they had become like family to me. I am not writing this to say I’ve been treated particularly injustly as such, but to raise awareness that as a woman in business it feels impossible to be a ‘good’ employee. In my boss’ eyes he has done no wrong, yet he makes women feel incredibly undervalued. I really hope that there are more men in business who appreciate how incredibly hard it is to have to compromise a career for children and that many women are desperate to do a good job and work exceptionally hard. We also, as new mothers, need to appreciate how hard it is for business owners too, but this works both ways. If a woman feels valued she is more likely to work far harder for her company, rather than have an ‘us and them’ attitude. I one day hope to have my own business where I can support women. In my opinion the mothers I know have become far more efficient, hard working and better workers after having had kids, albeit with the limitations of childcare.

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