Work­ing for a fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tion that prides it­self on be­ing fam­ily-friendly, Anna* found her­self trapped by the stereo­type of what work­ing mums want.


“I guess I’m as­sertive, so my male col­leagues didn’t know how to han­dle me – I was told I should be less out­spo­ken. My boss was a tra­di­tional male and the lead­er­ship team a bit of a boys’ club. The day I an­nounced I was preg­nant, my ca­reer started go­ing down­hill. I could feel the change in at­ti­tude around me – my col­leagues wrapped me in cot­ton wool, told me to stop wear­ing high heels and side-lined me from projects. I was told not to worry about my ca­reer and just fo­cus on the baby. But be­ing ca­reer-minded, I wanted to take four months’ ma­ter­nity leave and re­turn full-time. I was openly crit­i­cised for that de­ci­sion and cat­e­gor­i­cally told I should take a year off. Though my part­ner worked in the same team as me and fully sup­ported my de­ci­sion – he earned less than me – he was never of­fered shared parental leave or flex­i­ble work­ing ar­range­ments. We felt our choice as a cou­ple was not re­spected. The con­flict over my ma­ter­nity leave even­tu­ally broke my re­la­tion­ship with my boss. I was sec­onded to an­other team and in­for­mally ad­vised by HR not to put in a for­mal griev­ance, even though I’d clearly been bul­lied. When the sec­ond­ment ends early next year, I won’t have a job. My ca­reer has nose-dived – I’ll prob­a­bly have to take a job be­low the level I was at, just to get back in.”

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