Employment Discrimination and Working Mothers – What Nobody Talks About


At Proud Working Mom, I am in charge of content. I keep an active list of things I want to write about. One of the things that has been on my mind for a long time is employment discrimination and how it affects working moms. It is easy to think that no one is writing or talking about it because it doesn’t exist. This is not the case. It isn’t discussed because it only makes a bad situation worse.

I know four women who have all been victims of some form of employment discrimination during their careers. Yes, four professional women who have been fired or ‘let go’ (that is the nicer way to say it, so everyone feels comfortable) specifically because they were pregnant.

You can’t fire a pregnant woman because she is pregnant. When it is happening, no one ever says “you are being let go because you are pregnant and we don’t like it” or “we are firing you because you are pregnant and it is inconvenient” but it is exactly what’s happening.

Today, I want to get this topic out in the open.

When I was a young attorney, I had a friend who was a pediatric doctor.  She had been ‘let go’ from her job while she was pregnant. I saw her at a party and she told me in a defeated tone “What am I going to do, I have to work in this town.  I’ll just look for another job once the baby comes.”  After the initial outrage wore off, her words kept repeating in my head. I guess I thought that professionals were immune from this type of treatment. I could not have been further from the truth.

A few years later, a fellow attorney friend of mine had almost the exact same experience. She became pregnant and shortly after announcing it, her colleagues, all male attorneys, started treating her differently. She was assigned a very heavy work load and given more to do than the majority of her peers. Her male counterparts were blatant in how rude they were to her and made it clear that she was not welcome. It was as if they were making it so bad that she would have no choice but to quit. At seven months pregnant, when she was shown the door for ‘poor performance’, she attempted to sue the firm. She hired an employment lawyer and sued but had to relive the trauma every day, all while trying to take care of her new baby. She was strong, but it was painful. She ultimately gave up. The cruel irony of the situation is that when you are discriminated against while pregnant, you are in the worst possible position to fight back.

I learned this up close and personal when I was pregnant with my second child. I was four months into the pregnancy and had it all – morning sickness, trials, appellate arguments, all at the same time. My supervisor had been paying close attention to me and I was under the mistaken impression that he cared about the health of me and my unborn child. Nope. He had been observing my performance because there were ‘concerns’. Interestingly, these concerns coincided with a hiring freeze and the fact that I would be out on maternity leave for a few months prohibited them from filling my position (especially if I decided not to come back to work). Ultimately, I resigned and they chalked it up to ‘performance issues’ despite a perfectly clean employment record. I was furious. I was sad. I was exhausted. My husband encouraged me to see a lawyer about this blatant form of discrimination but I couldn’t bring myself to talk about it. My friend’s words rang in my ears “I have to work in this town”. If I was ever going to go back to work, this kind of bad press in a small town could be the death of my career. So I did what I believe lots of women do, I said nothing and left a job that I loved with my tail between my legs. It took me a long time to get over this. I relived it every day, I had bad dreams about it, I was angry, and I had a family to take care of (an infant and a 3-year-old). It made me doubt myself and my abilities as a lawyer.

After about two years, I finally picked myself up, dusted myself off, and went back to work. That is when I met another woman, an executive, who had just been fired from her job. She was also fired right after she had her baby. Her experience was now a familiar tale. After finding out she was pregnant, her boss, the president of the company, became almost impossible to please. Ultimately, he told her that if she wanted to continue working at the company, she would have to move her entire family to another city. Afterwards, my friend found out that they had already hired another person to replace her, so the unreasonable request wasn’t even an option. Outrageous, right? You are thinking that you would’ve sued that company, right? She didn’t do anything. Her reasons for dropping it were the same as everyone else’s.

These are just the stories of people I know. Imagine how many other working moms are out there, being discriminated against, who are afraid to share their story. It has taken me some time to be able to share this and my hope is that it will help another working mother in a similar situation. If this is happening to you, I want you to know that you are not alone and my advice is to FIGHT BACK.


9 Reasons I Am Thankful To Be a Working Mother


I have been working for a long time, but when I became a mom, just like you, I transformed from working woman to working mother. Everything changed: values, priorities, and the time available for both.

Proud Working Mom is dedicated to living this dual path without guilt and providing inspiration, empowerment, and information. It’s also an honest and sometimes twisted look at our reality.

But that’s what makes it cool.

This time of year I find myself thinking of all the things that I am thankful for. Number one on that list is my family. Following that, I could come up with an infinite number of reasons why I am thankful to be a mother. This post is different because it  highlights the reasons I am thankful to be a working mother.

At Proud Working Mom, we believe that working motherhood is a good thing for ourselves and our family. Here are 9 reasons why I am thankful:


The Top Myths (or Lies) About Working Moms


I am going to just say it out loud and proud:  I LOVE being a working mom.

I am just a regular working mom. I’m not trying to have it all, or buy it all, or climb the corporate ladder. I’m just trying to take care of my family and have a job that I can be proud of while being a mom.

Working moms aren’t fully understood. There are lots of rumors floating out there about working moms so today, I am going to address a few of the more popular myths (or lies) that exist about working moms.

1. We are not good parents. MYTH. There are some purported experts that say you cannot have a successful career and a successful home life at the same time. (Yes, these are people from this century). I guess the first question I would ask these “experts” is how they are defining success? To me, success is found in the fact that you can show up to work, do the job assigned, help run your household, and raise your kids with your partner. Maybe we are not perfect parents, but we are great parents. In fact, I know LOTS of working mothers that do it all and do it well!

2. We have “problem” children. MYTH. Why do kids of working mothers get a bad rap? As a mother who has both worked and stayed home (and coached a soccer team full of kids for the past three years), I have personally experienced a wide range of children and backgrounds. Kids are kids. Some are difficult and some are not. Jumping to the conclusion that kids are problematic because their mother is working is insane. In fact, I would argue the opposite. Sending my kids to daycare was a great opportunity for them to socialize with other kids, stay engaged and learn during the day while having fun.

3. We let someone else raise our children. MYTH.  This is just silly. We are still the ones providing the love, the care, and even the 3 a.m. wake up calls.  Mom and Dad are doing most of the heavy lifting with help from others like day care providers and teachers. It is a team effort.

4We all live “the good life”. MYTH. Sorry, just not true. We don’t have everything we want and we don’t do whatever we want. No one has it all. When we decide to work, it is not without sacrifice. Working mothers are faced with specific challenges, just like any other mom. By deciding to work, a working mother has taken on the challenge of being able to have a career AND a family. So I say to those Proud Working Moms, BRAVO.

5. We only work for money. MYTH. There are many reasons why we work: For finances, for sanity, for purpose, and because we genuinely like it!

These myths are all stupid, right? Did I leave any out? Feel free to add in any that I missed. We are all trying to accomplish the same thing: To become Proud Working Moms. So lets ALL start doing just that!

Don’t be an ASKhole


While not defined in a traditional dictionary, “ASKhole” pops right up in the Urban Dictionary. You may not be familiar with the term but all Proud Working Moms know this person.

An “ASKhole” is a co-worker who asks you a question or asks for your advice. The Askhole comes into your office, takes up your time batting an idea around and requires time out of your busy day to get valuable information. Once you have given your time and provided valuable assistance to this person, the ASKhole then completely disregards it and continues on to another person to ask the same question. The ASKhole knows no boundaries and doesn’t concern himself with how much of a burden he really is. It is only later in the day or the next day when you find out that not only did the ASKhole ask everyone in your corridor the same question, but he didn’t follow any of the advice given.

I know what you are doing. You are wondering if you are an ASKhole.


If you are still reading this, you are not an ASKhole. If you were, you would’ve stopped reading this and dismissed it as a waste of your time. That is how ASKholes roll. So, here are a few tips on how to avoid becoming an ASKhole:

1. Make sure you are asking the right person for information. If you are looking for advice on a work issue, find someone at work that knows more than you. CAVEAT: Avoid asking people that will answer the question whether they know the correct answer or not – these are known as “know-it-alls” and are even more problematic than ASKholes (we will address them in a separate post). If you are seeking advice about your personal life, make sure you are asking someone who makes good choices at home. The co-worker that is know for his all night parties and binge drinking is not the person you should be asking.

2. Offer something of value in return. Once you have identified the correct person to ask for information, don’t just barge into their office looking for answers. Offer to buy that person a cup of coffee or take them to lunch and let them know that you need to run something past them. It is the least you can do. A good colleague won’t let you do it and will offer advice for free, but the gesture is nice.

3. Be thoughtful about what to do next. No one says you have to take the advice once it is given. It is nice to let the person know how much you appreciate their time and that you will give some thought to their advice. And then actually do it.

4. Don’t ask everyone in the office. Maybe you didn’t get the answer you wanted. Instead of proceeding down the hallway and asking every other person what they think, take some time and reflect on the advice given. At the end of the day, it is up to you to decide what to do. After careful consideration, be a professional and make the call.


13 Things You Should NEVER Say to a Working Mother!


I have been a working mother with three children for a long time. In that time, I have had lots of people ask me questions and give me their unsolicited opinions on many occasions. While most people don’t intend be rude or judgmental, it is always surprising to hear out loud, what some people should keep to themselves

Here is my list of the top things you must NEVER say to a working mom and just for fun, I have included my sarcastic responses (that I have managed to keep to myself):

“I saw your kid on the class trip today. She was crying – I think she missed you.” Thanks, I feel much better for the information.  Anything else you would like to tell me, like about how you think she might not be meeting her milestones, or will be emotionally damaged for life?

“I could never let someone else raise my kids.” Yes, I let others make all the decisions for my children. I have little to do with anything…their parent teacher conferences, birthday parties, homework, doctor appointments, playdates, or offering any sort of parental guidance. Heck, I don’t even hug and kiss them, cuddle them, or have any part in tucking them into bed.  I am never the first face they see in the morning, and I never do anything fun with them like have picnics on our carpet, or watching the same animated movie 100 times. And, I never ask them about their day. Nope, I have nothing to do with my children.

“I don’t know how you do it. I’d feel too guilty.” So….I wrote an entire book about this.  We do feel guilty, but we can feel great too. (Buy my book- that was a shameless plug, I know)

You trust your babysitter, right?” Oh no, I actually never considered her/his credentials. I just put out a job post on craigslist and took the very first applicant based on price. But thanks for making me suspicious!

“Good for you for putting your career first!” Yes, every single day I get up and I think to myself: The most important thing in my life is my career. To hell with my family, that has nothing to do with why I work.

“I’d give anything to get away from my kids for an entire day.” If you really mean this, send me your resume and I can help you out. But remember, this “freedom” comes with its own issues. We are not getting away and going to the spa.  It is called “work” for a reason.

“I’d miss my child too much to be away from him all day.” Well, I have no idea how you feel because I am an impersonal and non-maternal mother.  I have no feelings and never miss my kids. 

 “I don’t know how you do it. It must be so hard.” It is. I don’t know how I do it. But I don’t think work is the problem because parenting is hard whether you stay at home or go off to the office. I don’t know how any of us do it. It’s glorious and rewarding and full of love and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

“You must be so organized to be able to balance everything.” I love this and hate it at the same time. I think I am organized and I do think I accomplish a lot during a week’s time. But I also know I am one parent teacher conference away from a full melt down (like all moms working inside or outside the home).  Last week, Parker went to school and brought his toothbrush to show and tell. I have runs in my panty hose, and I never write thank you cards for my children’s birthday presents. I don’t exercise as often as I should and EVERY DAY something slides. There really is no “balance” just organized chaos. I am no different than anyone else.

“You look exhausted.” Wow, thanks! I feel even better now! Want to watch my kids this weekend so I can hit the spa, get a manicure, and sleep in?  No? Then let’s not say this to a working mom.

 “There’s always time to work later, these early years are so precious.” Why oh why is this NEVER said to fathers? I actually get many special moments with my kids. When Parker climbs into my bed and tells me “I am the best mommy in the whole world”, or when Emily smiles and says “I love you”, those are all special moments and I cherish them all.

 “Aren’t you concerned about not being there for your kids?” Just because I am at work does not mean I am not “there” for my kids.  Please get some perspective.

 “I’m surprised you went back to work. Your husband seems so successful.” Why would you assume that you know why I am working? Some women LIKE to work outside the home and I am sorry you are not one of them. 

Here is what we SHOULD say:

The questions and words should not be filled with judgment but with support.  After all, we are all mothers, we all adore our children and we all want what’s best for them. We are all doing what we have to do for our families and we are all different. So, let’s give each other support and understanding no matter if we stay home, work from home, work outside the home or somewhere in between.


photo credit: ktpupp via photopin cc

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