By 2019 Ohio Rose Danielle Goebel
If you ask people all over the world what today means you will get many different answers. You’ll have people say “Friday”, or that they “don’t know” what day it is, but then you’ll have a select few that say “today is International Women’s Day”. I’ll be completely honest, I had no idea that March 8th was International Women’s Day. I have a hard enough time remembering the birth dates of my 5 siblings let alone specific dates throughout the year dedicated to different important topics. So, what exactly is “International Women’s Day”?
It is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Today, and every year on this date marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. This celebration started well over a century ago and continues to grow year after year. The more research I did on International Women’s Day the more engulfed I became with learning about this day.
One topic that really sparked my interest was common biases women experience at work. These include likability bias, performance bias, maternal bias, attribution bias, and affinity bias. The maternal bias really hit home for me since I am a single mother of a perfect little boy named Landon. Motherhood triggers assumptions that women are less committed to their careers and less competent. Mothers are often given fewer opportunities and held to higher standards than fathers. Some employers fall into the trap of thinking that mothers are not as interested in their jobs now that they have kids. Since some employers think they are less committed, they are more likely to penalize mothers for small mistakes and oversights. Research shows that Maternal Bias is the strongest kind of gender bias. In one study, researchers focused on mothers that added “PTA Coordinator” to their resume. The study showed that 79% of those women are less likely to be hired, they are 50% less likely to receive any type of promotion, and they are offered $11,000 less in pay. That completely blew my mind.
When I found out I was pregnant I had two choices, either get my life together or completely fail as a human being and a mother. I started to make decisions based on having a little person growing inside me that will rely on me for many years to come. This triggered me to make a job change and start my career at Group Management Services. I no longer could afford to make $11/hour and live paycheck to paycheck, I needed more money. I started working at GMS in March 2014 and at the time I was about 20 weeks pregnant. I was terrified to let them know I was pregnant, I literally lost sleep because I was so fearful that I would lose my job as soon as they started to notice my belly getting bigger and rounder. I even went as far as saying “I gave up alcohol” for Lent in order to buy me some more time to prove to the management team I was worth keeping around. When it came time for me to actually tell my manager that I was pregnant I decided to just “rip off the Band-Aid” and tell him. So many thoughts went through my mind…”Am I going to have to look for another job? If so, who’s going to hire a pregnant woman?” I was terrified. But the time came and I just blurted out to my manager at the time, “I’m pregnant!” You know what his response was? He said, “Okay, Danielle, people have been pregnant before all over the world and at GMS. It is okay!! This is exciting news and I’m happy for you!” I was beyond relieved.
Why did I even have to feel like I wouldn’t have a job? Why did I have to feel stressed when that should be a happy time in my life? I think the maternal bias was embedded in my mind before I even knew what the heck it was.
Fortunately for me and my work situation, my employer did not treat me any differently. My employer kept my position even though I did not qualify for FMLA. My employer still offered me all of the benefits, all of the training, and all of the resources that they offered to all of my male and female coworkers. And I’m beyond grateful for that.
However, not every female can say the same thing about their current employer or former employers. It’s unfortunate that females have to go through the thought process of wondering if they are going to have a job before or after they give birth to a child. Or that employers will treat them differently after they have kids. Mothers should not be penalized based on having children. I don’t see the physical make up of humans changing to where men can give birth. So, unfortunately I don’t see maternal biases ending anytime soon. All that we can do is shed light on the current issues and biases of gender inequality. We have a long road ahead of us to bridge the gap of gender inequality, but we are definitely headed in the right direction.
Ellen DeGeneres once said, “The truth is, we are all one connected thing. We are all from the same exact molecules.” That quote is spot on to what today is all about. If we are all connected and made of the same exact molecules then why is there not gender equality? A balanced world is a better world. A very exciting time in history is happening right before our eyes. The world now “expects” gender equality. And now, in 2019, we can all continue to play a crucial role in helping make a more gender balanced world as we work towards a #BalanceforBetter life.