Midday Culture Connections: Women at Work - Pregnancy and Motherhood in the Workplace | WYPR

Midday Culture Connections: Women at Work - Pregnancy and Motherhood in the Workplace

Feb 6, 2018

Photo Courtesy: Flickr

Illinois US Senator Tammy Duckworth made headlines recently when she announced that she would be expecting her second child this spring.  She will become the first sitting Senator to give birth.  While her announcement might be an historic first for Congress, Sen. Duckworth is one of 25 million working mothers in the United States.

The #MeToo movement has given voice to women from assembly lines to corner offices around the persistence of sexual harassment and assault.  While working mothers with children under the age of 18 make up  for a third of the women in the labor force, many women face workplace discrimination based on pregnancy.  More than 30,000 claims of discrimination were filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission between 2010 and 2015.  3,000 claims were filed just last year. 

New mothers also face obstacles when it comes to breastfeeding with fewer than 40 percent of women having adequate break time or access to acceptable nursing facilities on the job.

We take a look at the politics of pregnancy in the workplace.  Do women still have to choose between starting a family and pursuing a career? And what protections are afforded expectant mothers by their employers under the law?

Dr. Sheri Parks joins us in studio A for Midday Culture Connections on the first Tuesday of every month.  She is an Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland College Park. She’s the author of Fierce Angels: Living with a Legacy from the Sacred Dark Feminine to the Strong Black Woman.   

Michelle Chen joins us on the phone from New York.  She is a contributor to The Nation, and host of Dissent Magazine’s podcast, Belabored.