Pregnant workers are often stereotyped as incompetent, weak or less committed to their job. To prove it wrong, many pregnant women go beyond their limits and work harder, putting their health at risk.
According to a new study, the majority of pregnant women in physically demanding jobs, about 63%, felt this type of “stereotype threat.” Fear of confirming negative assumptions about pregnant workers led many women to conceal their pregnancy and overperform, even taking actions that placed their health and pregnancy at risk, such as standing for long periods or lifting heavy objects, the study said.
The study, published in the journal Work & Stress, was conducted by researchers from Washington State University. Pregnancy stereotype is not always visible, but it really impacts women in the workplace, said Lindsey Lavaysse, lead author on the paper and recent WSU Ph.D. graduate.
Most organizations have policies for pregnancy accommodation in place, and it’s a legal right. But if the organization’s culture suggests there will be retaliation or that workers will be looked upon differently, then women will shy away from using accommodations that are better for their health and their safety, added Lavaysse.