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How Pregnancy Affects Women's Careers

This is what it looks like

BY Agnes Amondi

Jan 13, 2023, 02:36 PM

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When Japanese tennis star Naomi Osaka announced her pregnancy on social media on Wednesday, I was taken aback for a bit. What happens to her career now? Is this a good time to have a child? I mean, she’s only 25 years old. Will she even come back? I asked myself.

It felt like destruction, at least to me, but then again it is one of the most difficult choices women have to make. For Osaka, she can afford to sit out for an entire season. She is one of the most-paid female tennis players in the world. In 2022, she was the highest-paid female athlete having cashed in $51.5 million.

That said, I don’t think it’s fair to expect her to be the same when she returns to court next season. Will she ever rise to the peak of her powers again? Who knows. We’ve seen several female athletes have a child and still perform at the elite level afterwards so no doubt she can. 

Obviously, most people on social media wished her well. That said, some people questioned why she didn’t wait to have a child towards the tail end of her career, a reality many professional women have to put up with. So this got me thinking about how pregnancy affects women's careers hence why I am writing this post. 

Time Off Work

Naomi Osaka will be out for the rest of the 2023 season. For you, you’ll probably keep going to work but you wouldn’t work for as long as you used to. Between having the morning sickness, and visits to the doctor, your work schedule might change as your priority now will be to be as healthy as possible and carry the pregnancy to term. 

Even after you come back from your maternity leave, you will probably work fewer hours as you settle back in and balance between work and motherhood. Studies show that women are more likely to work fewer hours and even give up their work after childbirth.

Less Pay

The law states that pregnant women should be fully compensated during their three-month maternity leave. That said, women still fall behind after they become mothers as some of them drop out of the workforce entirely and others opt for fewer hours because of parental responsibilities. Studies show that women earn considerably higher before they get children and that numbers shrink drastically afterwards. 

Unfavourable Working Conditions 

In as much as some companies have tried to be accommodating to expectant women and mothers, the workplace still presents a lot of challenges. Some women are forced to come back from maternity early because the policies vary depending on where they work. 

For those who manage to get back into the workforce, it becomes difficult to juggle between motherhood and work. Some may get lesser duties as some employers see them as uncommitted, and some are bypassed when promotion time comes for similar reasons. Because of this, some women either quit or go slow on their caregiving duties to prove to their employers that they are worth the investment.  

Loss of Jobs

Believe it or not, some women lose their jobs because of pregnancy. Whilst there have been tremendous efforts to seal this loophole, some employers still find ways to justify terminating female employees who are expectant. They do this because they deem them to be of less value as they will work less and take paid maternity leave. If not, some women have reported being discriminated against and forced out of work as a result. 

Getting A Job Becomes Tricky

Your potential employer might not tell you but job hunting while pregnant is a tricky pursuit for women. You might be qualified but the employer’s mind might be gauging the ‘loss’ they’ll suffer when you take your maternity leave after training you or after you have just started the job. We aren’t saying that it is impossible but it is a reality that many women have to put up with. 

Will Naomi Osaka suffer from any of these? Probably not. In fact, for high-profile women like her, becoming a mother presents multiple opportunities. We wish her well and look forward to seeing her again on the tennis tour.

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