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Job Search while Pregnant

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Working & Careers > Job Search while Pregnant



Help! Pregnant and on the academic job market!

Dec 2005

I'm in my last year of a graduate program in the humanities and am on the job market for next fall. I've been successful as a student in terms of publishing and teaching, and consider myself a strong candidate for a tenure track position. I just found out a couple of months ago that I'm pregnant (due next June) and don't know how I should handle my interviews and negotiations. I don't want to lessen my chances of landing a good job but I do want to know if potential departments will be accommodating to my new family. Help! Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Pregnant and starting to show!


I'm not sure what accomodations you're hoping for from a department but my sense is that most places will expect you to teach in the Fall. In my department, new faculty get one course reduction their first year but I don't know if that's the norm in the humanities. You probably should be prepared to hit the deck running in the Fall in terms of teaching. Most universities do not have much of a maternity leave and only now does UC honor summer births (when I had a baby in July, the response was, 'why didn't you time it better?') and give women six months off from teaching starting at birth, so you can't assume you'll get any time off in Fall for maternity leave. I think you'll have to be thinking about teaching and seeing if your partner can do some baby-care and finding childcare as well. I would simply ask prospective departments what the teaching load is for first-year faculty members but I wouldn't advise asking for any special consideration until you get a job offer and are negotiating. good luck!
Faculty Mother
I've been in the same situation, and it is a dilemma, but I think that, if at all possible, you should conceal the pregnancy until you have job offers, and have begun negotiations. Given the incentives facing departments, it is hard to believe that you would receive as many offers were it known that you are pregnant. You should also keep in mind that what one or two faculty members in your new department tell you about their attitudes isn't all that meaningful. First, many pay lip service (but no more than that) to the idea that faculty with young children need accommodation, so what you are told may have little connection to what you'll actually experience once you begin work. Second, often the parties with whom you negotiate don't actually have the power to make binding commitments about these matters. They tell you what they might wish would happen, but upon your arrival, other members of your department, the Provost or Dean of Faculty, and administrators at your new institution may have the ultimate say-so. Oftentimes, policies are very nebulous, and little has been formalized. You'll be advised by friends and mentors to get things in writing (how I wish I had!), but getting things in writing can be difficult, and create acrimony, which is something you must try to avoid when you are untenured. Two more things to keep in mind are these: unless things have changed (or California has different laws than where I took my first tenure-track job), as an employee with fewer than 12 months on the job, you are not covered by the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which entitles some workers to unpaid leave. Second, many unexpected things occur in pregnancy and childbirth, and you would be wise to leave yourself options. As I learned when I was a graduate student, you could, for example, be put on complete bedrest with 16 weeks of your pregnancy still to go! Or, as I learned as a new professor, your newborn child could fall deathly ill and be hospitalized for weeks. And, according to the March of Dimes website, approximately 12 percent of American babies are born prematurely. In short, don't battle to the death for a particular set of dates, because they may turn out not to suit you. Do, as soon as you have an offer, ask whether the tenure clock is automatically stopped for a year for the mother of a new baby, and if it isn't, consider asking for it to stop for you.
Wishing you luck and joy with the baby and the job

I feel dishonest not telling, but I really want the job

Nov 2005

My husband and I saved our money and recently moved to the Bay area from the East Coast. I finished my M.A. and am now interviewing for PT to FT work in the Bay area. My husband is also looking for work. I am 5 months pregnant with our first child and am starting to show (although most people probably just think I'm ''large'' since I am tall). I haven't had any problems getting interviews in my field. However, I just lost one job due to my honesty: the potential job's timing was such that I'd be most needed when I am due in the spring and I just didn't feel it was ethically right for me to put the employer in that position. I know that legally I am not required to tell employers I am pregnant, and they in turn are not allowed to inquire. It is causing me considerable emotional strain, though. My career is very important to me and I really want to work until the last minute and return to a job as soon as possible after birth (not to mention financial necessity). I am afraid that if I am hired and an employer then learns I am pregnant, that it will cause negative feelings at work. On the other hand, I feel dishonest if I do not tell an employer. I'd like to hear from other women who've searched for/found work while they were pregnant and how they handled this awkward situation. Or, if there are employers who have experienced this, please also give your feedback. Much appreciated! anonymous


I was in a very similar situation last fall. While interviewing I came to the conclusion that I wouldn't tell potential employers about my pregnancy until I was actually offered a job - I figured there was no reason to put them in the position of deciding to do something illegal. However, this conflicted with my thought that I wouldn't want to work someplace that wasn't ''family friendly'', which lent support to telling prospective firms up front.

In the end, I was five months pregnant when I was offered a new job at a large firm in SF. When the HR rep called to offer me the job the first thing I did was tell her that I was pregnant. I figured we could use that time to negotiate things (like maternity leave) and I could use her reaction to decide if the firm was a good fit for me or not. I also figured that while they can't revoke a job offer because I was pregnant, they could make the job offer so unattractive that I wouldn't take it.

I ended up taking the job and things turned out well. Although I later heard that my new supervisors were pissed when they found out they had hired a pregnant lady, they also completely understood why I didn't tell them in the interviews and said I did everything right. I used the last few months of my pregnancy to work hard and prove to them that I was a valuable asset to the firm, since I was in no way guaranteed a job after maternity leave (state and federal leave laws, other than the pregnancy disability pay, only apply if you've been on the job more than a year). I think once they got over the ''shock'' of my pregnancy it was really no big deal. I was able to take four months of unpaid maternity leave with the rest of my benefits intact and a job waiting for me at the end of the leave.

I'd say go with your instinct - just because you're pregnant doesn't mean that you can't still be a valuable employee. The same advice applies to pregnant and non-pregnant job seekers alike: be yourself in the interview.

Good luck! working mama


I would be honest. If it will keep the potential employer from hiring you, you would not want to work for them anyway, because apparently they don't support working moms. A friend of mine interviewed for a job while pregnant and got the job. She was on maternity leave for 4 months. It wasn't easy starting a new job being pregnant and more tired than usual and returning full time having a needy infant at home, but if you love your job it is doable with a supportive employer. *
Dear pregnant job hunter,

I am a man that owns a consulting company that employs technical people. We recently hired a woman for a key support position. During the call to offer her the job, she notified us that she was pregnant. This was just after we had uttered the words offering her the job. She claimed to be completely surprised that she was four months pregnant and had just found out the night before. This put us in a difficult spot. We needed the work done and we could not rescind the offer, since it could have set us up for a lawsuit. It does create some confusion and concern over how we will deal with the position during her absence. Subsequent comments from her revealed that she was aware of her pregnancy for much longer than she let on. I have ended up not trusting her completely. However, she has turned out to be a good employee. We will see how it goes.

I believe that employers should be allowed to inquire about pregnancy, and to not hire women on that basis. I know, I sound like the fascist anti-Christ. But, when you run a small company you just cannot afford to keep positions open and deal with all the stuff that goes along with family leave, UNLESS you have a person who is willing to be truthful and work with you to get the job done. Too many people see employment, naturally, from the employee's point of view. Which, unfortunately, boils down to ''What can I get'', rather than ''How can I best contribute to the success of this organization''.

So, my advice is to be honest. First, with yourself regarding what you really want to do regarding employment (sounds like you are already there). Then I would be honest with your potential employers and show them you have thought it through from their perspective, and want to be part of their success as an enterprise. I believe they will embrace you, and implicitly trust you.

Best of luck, An Ordinary Guy


Should I give up my job search now that I'm showing?

Sept 2004

I am currently 15 weeks pregnant (first pregnancy) and it is already pretty obvious. I have been looking for work for 10 months now on top of that. Now that I am showing, should I just give up the search? I am just a mid level Administrative Assistant, not in any specialty, so I don't have employers banging down my door. I get the impression employers don't want to hire pregnant women. What was your experience? And I am more interested in people who are not in a specialized career. anon


Hi- I am the woman who posted the question that appeared in the archives: http://parents.berkeley.edu/advice/working/preg_interview.html I say go for it! I was five months pregnant when I found my current position. I posted the very same question as you as I thought no one in their right mind would hire a woman who was about to deliver and go on maternity leave. Luckily, I was wrong.

I went into interviews probably more confident than ever. My son was my good luck charm and I knew that I could handle anything.

For a while I was unsure whether I should mention my very obvious belly at interviews. Eventually I decided to dress professionally, but not come out in some over the top maternity outfit. I never spoke about being pregnant during the interview either. It was only after my second interview, and after an offer had been made, did my boss ask when I was due. I was able to use my expertise and confidence to negotiate a deal where I could work from home, which I now do two days a week, so I can be with my son.

I say find a place that will pay you what you need and give you the flexibility to be a mom. My son gets sick at the drop of the hat and between staying home and doctors appointments, flexibility is key. I am not some high-paid lawyer or top ranking anything either; just a mom who needed a job. Good luck!!! Workin' Mama!


Job interview: should I tell them I'm 5 months pregnant?

June 2003

Hello- I am hoping someone out there has been in this situation.

I found out last week that I will no longer be employed after the end of the fiscal year, due to the state budget.

That same day I also found out that I have an interview in another division. Talk about your good news and bad!

I really want this ''new'' job. My commute will be cut in half and my family lives in this new town--which will be very handy for child care.

My dilemma is this: I am five months pregnant. Should I just come out and acknowledge that I am expecting and hope that they don't see this as a hinderance and red flag? Or do I keep my mouth shut, letting them think that I am just heavy until I get an offer? I know that ''legally'' they don't have the right to ask, but I can't help and think that it would be dishonest to avoid the obvious elephant in the room, so to speak, and not mention my pregnancy. On the other hand, I don't want to provide them with any reason to not hire me, which I fear a baby might do.


I have been in exactly your situation, with an interview for a state job when 5 months pregnant. I wasn't previously employed by the state, though. I didn't show much, and I didn't mention it in the first interview, knowing that the process for getting hired for this particular job would involve at least 2 or 3 interviews for the successful candidate. I figured if I got a second interview, I was among a handful of their top choices, and I would be in a better position (and probably unable to avoid) to mention it then. I did get the second interview, at 71/2 months, mentioned it then, and it was not a problem for hiring me, just for determining when I would start. (I ended up not starting until after the birth, which was good for me, but I did have to start when my child was only 9 weeks old, which was not so good. I negotiated to start 1/2 time though, and work my way up.) For a state job, as you may know, the division looking to fill a position may have to fill it or lose it by a certain date. That was an issue for me given how far along I was when they finally made their hiring decision, but it got worked out in the end. Fill or lose is probably an even greater concern now with the budget cuts. You are protected from pregnancy discriminaton by state law, and state law is stronger than federal law in this area. A state agency should be especially concerned about even appearing to discriminate. You should not be afraid to disclose your pregnancy, but at the same time, you want to disclose it when you feel you are in the strongest position, if possible. Also, you want to show flexibility with respect to the leave you might request, to prevent that from becoming an issue in hiring you. You may also have some advantage in that there might be some requirement that the division give preference to qualified candidates who are being terminated from other state employment. Try to find out. At the very least, try to talk to some people employed by the division to get a sense of what the atmosphere there is and what the managers are looking for. Good luck! raissa
You absolutely do not have to tell them that you are pregnant. You should be interviewed and judged on the abilities that you bring to the job. The interviewer has no right to ask about your family status. Good luck on your interview. anon
I had to do this once. I did not tell the interviewers that I was pregnant but did tell my new boss as soon as I was hired. I felt bad but also felt that it was what I needed to do to secure a job. As long as you can do the essential functions of a job, you do not need to disclose any ''disabilities'', of which pregnancy is one. You actually help the potential new employer to stay legal by not telling them during the selection process; you are not giving them an illegal but tempting reason not to consider you. anon
I was pregnant through the fall/winter and job hunting at the same time. In the fall, I was networking via email and phone. Then come January, I started to get some calls. By that time I was 6 months pregant (2nd pregnancy) and out to there! I got dressed up for my interviews (maternity wear) and walked into my interviews with as professional an attitude as I could. I was eager to land a job BEFORE the baby came. (I couldn't imagine being as focused after the baby.) Each of the five different interviewers I met with congratulated me when I walked in the room, but never initiated discussion about it. I know I did not have to say anything about it, but I felt that was silly (like you say, not talking about the elephant in the room.) So, at the very end of our meetings, I would say, ''Well, as you can see, I am expecting. I am due on such-and-such date. My plan is to take XX months off to care for the baby. Then I plan to return to work on or around such-and-such date.'' Usually, we'd have some discussion of the employer's needs and how it would work. I was quite sure I wanted to have a full 3 months off and given it would be unpaid, I was firm about it. Each interviewer was upfront about their schedule (luckily it wasn't an issue in most cases). They clearly appreciated my directness. I think they even liked the idea of having a few months to play with (i.e. they wouldn't have to make the decision to hire me within a few days.) So, that's what I did. You'll have to do what's most comfortable for you. In the end, I had about 3 offers to consider. It felt great! And I'm proud of myself for dealing with it in a straightforward manner. I felt I was honoring my pregnancy as well as myself as a person with lots to offer. Starting work in July
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