End the duopoly

How can we talk about workplace equality when we still punish women for getting pregnant?

I recently met a female entrepreneur who found out she was pregnant in the middle of raising her seed round. As soon as she reached 12 weeks, and before anyone had wired money, she told all the investors about her impending motherhood. Some investors dropped out, she told me, and she raised less money than she intended. But she told this story with optimism, because “quite a few” investors had been surprisingly supportive of a pregnant woman.

I was disappointed—that she had to deal with investors that acted that way, and because she considered losing a few investors a “good” outcome. These investors dropping out meant that she raised less (and this isn’t something that would have happened to a male founder). She shouldn’t even have to think of how her pregnancy should affect her business.

This is not an isolated story. Over and over, I have heard female friends and colleagues pass up the plum job, decide not to look for their next thing, or delay becoming an entrepreneur because a pregnancy was in their near or foreseeable future. This trend is hurting women, and hurting business.

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Our culture has an unspoken rule about applying for a new job if you’re pregnant or on maternity leave: don’t do it. Many people think the same holds true if you’re trying to get pregnant or even thinking of getting pregnant.

If you’re a woman in your 30s leaning into your career but also trying to have a family, you will inevitably find yourself in conflict—with your employer, with yourself, and likely with this rule itself. And that conflict isn’t just for nine months; it’s likely for at least five years.

Let’s do the math. A 32-year-old woman might spend:  […]

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