Is there such a thing as gender equality in the workplace? Women these days are empowered enough to do a man's job. That's what we always think now that we are on the 21st century. That is what I used to think as well.
Let me share with you a disappointing experience of mine with regards to gender bias in the corporate world. For some reasons unknown to me, I lost a job after giving birth. I'm one of the millions of women who struggle because there are companies who don't even care about how we feel.
It happened to me half a decade ago. The 26-year-old me was hired as an executive assistant after three years of working as an administrative staff. The workplace was fine, the people were nice, and the salary was quite good. I thought I was going to be working with the same company forever.
But there's the biological clock, as they call it. I got married at 28 and got pregnant just a year after. I felt like a "walking love" as I would be a first-time mom. My priorities somehow varied.
My baby bump did not show until I was four months pregnant and it was an easy pregnancy. I was able to manage my work without so much hustle. The morning sickness rarely happened and I didn't have too much food cravings at all.
That was a perfect pregnancy according to my husband. Because of this, he allowed me to work as long as I could.
However, things took an ugly turn the moment I filed for maternity leave. I intended to have a maximum of 12 weeks postpartum leave. All I wanted was to have enough time for my newborn. I knew i needed more time to adjust as a first-time mom.
But my employer just would not let me take a longer leave. He kept insisting seven weeks was enough, as what my doctor prescribed. So I only had two options in the end: cut my leave and keep the job or totally quit for my baby.
After a lot of thinking, I chose the second option. I wanted to be there for my daughter during her immunizations, doctor visits, and I decided to be a nursing mom. My husband and I wanted to see her milestones and give her our time and effort.
The company chose between two administrative staff members to be promoted and fill the void I left. One was a female and the other one was a male. Both of them were in their mid-20's.
I knew both of them. She had more years of work experience. I knew she was qualified for it. But it's the man who got promoted as an executive assistant. The study a couple of years ago, indicating 40-per cent of managers avoid hiring younger women to get around maternity leave was right.
I realized, perhaps the manager was thinking that the lady would have the same fate as mine. What if she got married soon and started a family? They will have to go through the same thing again.
Nobody ever told me this could be one of the pressures among women. I am simply a woman who wanted a career. But I never bothered to return to the corporate world again. What if my husband and I agree to have one more baby? I would have to experience the horrors of filing the maternity leave once more.
Now I am a work-at-home mom. My daughter will start school soon and I'm just grateful that I have the time in the world to witness the most important milestones of her life.