A recent article by former White House official Avra Siegel in Fortune was titled “The Brutal Truth About Being a Pregnant Worker in 2016: It’s Pretty Awful.” At Acculturated, I explained how Siegel, while heavy on the self-pity (in spite of having unlimited paid sick leave and even an on-sight office nap room), overlooks the costs and other drawbacks of her proposals and fails to consider the perspective of childless workers.
Siegel’s overwrought headline aside, it’s worth noting that while, of course, pregnancy comes with challenges—and those who haven’t gone through the experience may not fully appreciate these—there’s actually never been a better time to be a pregnant working woman than 2016.
Off the top of my head: There is far more public discussion and awareness of the challenges of pregnancy; Women are increasingly in leadership positions in companies and organizations, which should make the topic and considerations for pregnancy less taboo; and technology has created a multitude of work options (telecommuting, working from home, etc.) that help workers who aren’t at 100 percent, whether because they’re pregnant, undergoing chemotherapy, or have some other health condition.
Life will always present challenges—and not just for pregnant women. People get sick, depressed, and face every conceivable difficultly. Those who work in service-oriented jobs have less flexibility than those whose tasks revolve around a computer. Sometimes not showing up is just not an option. This has always been true and—while technology will continue to bring more flexibility—it will always be the case in many jobs. Yet women today have it far better than even our mother’s generation did, nap rooms or no, and that is progress worth celebrating.