July 17, 2024

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Motherhood penalty laid bare: From co-workers comparing pregnant colleagues to broken race cars to senior women ‘hazing’ other moms

2 min read

When Alicia Iveson joined the advertising agency world, she thought she was about to enjoy the young, progressive culture it’s famed for. “I was confronted with the exact opposite—just really archaic behaviors.”

Iveson could feel the sense of judgment (complete with actual “eye rolls”) coming from her coworkers as she left the office promptly to pick up her child from nursery. She even recalls being forced to join a regular team call during her child’s bathtime to avoid being ‘named and shamed’ for missing it.

“I wasn’t able to spend any quality time with my son because I always felt guilty,” she says, adding that juggling the demands of motherhood and her employer ended up with her dropping the laptop in the bath. 

“I was never present to the point that my son would really actively shut down my laptop or tell me to get off the phone,” she adds. “When they’re starting to notice that at only two or three years old, it’s pretty horrific.”

It was at that point that Iveson knew that enough was enough. She is just one of a quarter of a million working mothers in the U.K. alone to quit their jobs because of “outdated and toxic attitudes around motherhood”, according to equal rights charity the Fawcett Society. 

This phenomenon is called the motherhood penalty whereby women are incorrectly prescribed as less aspirational because of their motherhood status and overlooked for promotions. 

Ultimately it leaves many working moms forced to choose between being consigned to low-paying jobs with little opportunity for growth or leaving the workforce altogether.

On average, the Fawcett Society found that as a result of this prejudice mothers with two children earn 26% less than women without children. Fathers, on the other hand, see their earnings rise. 

Sadly but unsurprisingly, this issue extends beyond British soil: Women around the world from France to the United States and Hong Kong told Fortune that they…

Orianna Rosa Royle

2023-11-24 08:37:11

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