We all know of or have heard of how pregnancy can cost women a job or a career. Being newly pregnant myself and finally situated in a career I am faced with that difficult choice: raise a child full-time or jump right back into my job once I’ve delivered my baby? No surprise, like me, 70% of women fear taking a career break. Although it might seem like a stretch to use film actress as examples to examine how career choices have changed for pregnant women, like our world, theirs is just as backwards and slow to catch up to what women need today.
If you’re a classic movie fan like me, you know the story of Vera Ellen and Alfred Hitchcock. The story goes like this: following Grace Kelly’s marriage to Prince Renier of Monaco Hitchcock was going through a rough time and needed a new muse to use in his movies. He thought it would be Vera Ellen, but she got pregnant. He told Francois Truffaut in Hitchcock/Truffaut that “She became pregnant just before the part [Vertigo] that was going to turn her into a star. After that, I lost interest. I couldn’t get the rhythm going with her again.”
Many women fear this, of people (namely employers) losing interest in them because they become pregnant or moms. In the case of Vera Miles, Hitchcock later cast her in Psycho but she never reached the heights of stardom as preceding Hitchcock leading lady Grace Kelly did.
In contrast, the star of the 2017 summer blockbuster reboot Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot not only was pregnant for part of filming the action movie, she got as far as five months into her pregnancy playing fight scenes. Sadly she says she hid her pregnancy from her costars so she wouldn’t be treated differently she said in an interview. But eventually it did become obvious and a special green screen suit was created to mask her baby bump during reshoots.
From these two stories it is clear to me that the choice is easy, do what you feel is right and if your employer does not wish to be accomodating of your choice, then that is not the right organization for your life. Money, love and happiness are the three things we all chase, but money ends up making is less happy in the end. Inevitably there will be bills to pay, but if your workplace is making you miserable or is keeping you from time being with your loved ones, then it is not worth it. Making money can make you feel good, it allows you to buy more, but it doesn’t fulfill or satisfy you the way leading a balanced life does. You can have a career, but you need to choose the right employer so you can also have a wonderful life. And you never know, you might have a career later in life in your 40s like Sofía Vergara did. You just have to choose for yourself whether being pregnant and raising children is one that you want to be there for. No matter if you’re an actress or not, being a woman has changed and if we keep asking for what we need, and prove that we can still do great work, then maybe the choices will be easier for future generations. Being pregnant won’t seem like such a career killer afterall.
Check out the organization Pregnant Then Screwed, which:
protects, supports and promotes the rights of mothers who suffer the effects of systemic, cultural, and institutional discrimination through our various schemes and activities, including: A free legal advice service, a website where women post their stories of discrimination anonymously, lobbying the Government for legislative change, and a mentor scheme that supports women who are considering legal action against their employer.