Leadership

How To Dismantle ‘The Maternal Wall’

Numerous studies prove pregnancy bias still exists. If you're about to go on maternity leave, it's time to understand your rights.

By Prue Gilbert

Leadership

Numerous studies prove pregnancy bias still exists. If you're about to go on maternity leave, it's time to understand your rights.

By Prue Gilbert

In January 2017, world champion athlete Serena Williams walked off the court at the Australian Open, having earned her place as the world’s number one tennis player, despite playing the tournament while in her first trimester. Yet, when she stepped onto the court at the 2018 French Open, she was ranked just 451st globally. The reason for Williams’ dramatic descent in the rankings? Her decision to take a year of maternity leave to have her first child.

In some ways, Williams’ experience is specific to the world of tennis, with much of the debate centering around a practice known as ‘seeding’ which protects top players – although, seemingly, not those returning from maternity leave. But away from the court, Williams’ experience reflects a daily reality for working mothers around the world as they encounter the maternal wall. While we would have liked to see her challenge the WTA for discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy, we also understand her desire to prove herself on the court. Because that’s what women often feel they need to do: prove their value, their worth, all over again. But this time, with more pressure.

You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $7 a month.

Join the club

Already a member? Sign in

You’ve hit the glass ceiling. And our paywall.

Help us smash it by becoming a Future Woman for as little as $7 a month.

Join the club

Already a member? Sign in