I was doing pretty well in this male dominated industry – then I got pregnant!

I work for a very large International chemical company, and despite it being a male-dominated industry, and being aware of the glass ceiling in place for females, prior to getting pregnant I was doing OK. I had been promoted 7 months beforehand, I was always given access to senior leadership when they visited the office and I had been selected to work and lead on several high-profile projects.
After announcing my pregnancy my manager stepped up my workload considerably as he explained he didn’t want me to feel that I was being left out of anything! The result was a very exhausting and stressful pregnancy which, combined with multiple health problems and trips to hospital, resulted in a very un-enjoyable time.
Despite this, at my October review, I was told that I had excelled in all areas of my work and although I couldn’t be promoted again so soon I would be put down as having performed with distinction and would therefore receive a generous bonus and pay rise.

Fast forward to 2 days before I gave birth, when I was still working! My manager called me in to tell me about my bonus and pay rise and dropped the bomb shell that he had put me forward as performing an average job and just meeting the needs of the role! He looked very nervous and uncomfortable but continued on to tell me that that’s what he had put me forward as back in October, despite our previous conversation. I was heavily pregnant and emotional at that point and didn’t have the energy to really contest it, but I was fuming. To top it off, when my small bonus did arrive it had been calculated wrong and instead of getting on to HR and sorting it out which I know he’s done for my other colleagues in the past, he did nothing and after 6 weeks I had to contact payroll and sort it out myself.

During my maternity leave he insisted on several KIT days and at every one he forgot I was coming in, nothing had been organised and they were a complete waste of time. Prior to returning I asked if there was anything that needed to be arranged so that I could start back at a good pace but he insisted everything was arranged. I returned to work in January 2016 and realised that that wasn’t the case. After spending just 30 minutes with me, I didn’t see my manager again for another 2 weeks, despite the fact that his office is 10 feet from mine. I was completely left to my own devices with no work to do. In meetings with colleagues I quickly realised that five of my big projects had been taken from me and that I had been left with only the very basic job to do. People even started referring to me as a title below my role. Our company is currently going through a merger and a colleague on the same pay as me has become very hostile and condescending towards me since my return to work, I assume because she’s worried about her job and wants to establish a pecking order. I and another colleague have mentioned this several times to my manager, sending him email evidence of some of the inappropriate language used towards me. Although I’ve made it clear that this isn’t on, he’s done nothing about it.
9 months on, nothing has changed despite having had three meetings with my manager where I’ve told him that I’m not happy about my apparent demotion, that I’m concerned about my performance in this years review process and that it seems to be the result of my having had a baby. At each meeting he’s looked uncomfortable, agreed that my role seems to have changed and promised that he’ll send some big projects my way but so far all I’ve been offered is the role of taking minutes at a large meeting in a few weeks – not exactly what I did my PhD for!

I’m interested to see what happens when the merger goes through early next year. Currently, I feel that the stripping my responsibilities is working towards a case for my redundancy, but we’ll see.


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