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sheMD Journal Club

Pregnancy Discrimination
Is Rampant Inside America’s
Biggest Companies


This article discusses the idea of pregnancy discrimination, or pregnancy resulting in women getting "knocked off the professional ladder."  This article is NOT specific to medicine.  The authors argue that pregnancy discrimination remains widespread in businesses across our country, and can start as soon as a woman is showing and last through her early years as a mother.


A study done by the NY Times showed: "Many of the country’s largest and most prestigious companies still systematically sideline pregnant women. They pass them over for promotions and raises. They fire them when they complain." Pregnant women and mothers are often perceived as less committed, steered away from prestigious assignments, excluded from client meetings and slighted at bonus season.


A 2014 analysis of wages showed that each child a woman has chops 4 percent off a woman’s hourly wages.  However mens' income increases by 6 percent when they become fathers, after controlling for experience, education, marital status and hours worked.


Another study by the Census Bureau examined the pay of spouses. The looked at the couples income two years before there first child and when the child turned  one years old.  They found that prior to children, the husbands made only slightly more than their wives. But by the time their child turned 1, the size of that pay gap had doubled to more than $25,000. And I quote, "Women taking maternity leave, dropping out of the work force or working fewer hours could contribute to that disparity, but it DOES NOT explain all of it."

Some women will choose to cut back after pregnancy in order to devote themselves more fully to childcare or because they cannot afford childcare. This choice is a woman's prerogative.   But for those women that do NOT want to cut back, pregnancy becomes an involuntary setback.  

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