This Ed­in­burgh mother-of-three has ex­pe­ri­enced dis­crim­i­na­tion in two dif­fer­ent jobs. Va­lerie*, who is in her mid-30s, tells her story.


“While I was work­ing away from home as an in­tern with a large multi­na­tional cor­po­ra­tion, a se­nior col­league tried to jump into bed with me af­ter a night out. I was in my mid-20s – I think he saw me as an easy target. His be­hav­iour re­flected the sex­ist cul­ture in the com­pany. Dur­ing the job in­ter­view, I’d been asked what my boyfriend would think of me work­ing away from home, as if I needed his per­mis­sion. My male man­ager even said once that mar­ried women were a risk to em­ploy. My in­tern­ship went well and I was given a ver­bal of­fer of a per­ma­nent role. Very soon af­ter, how­ever, I an­nounced I was preg­nant and the of­fer was with­drawn. The very strong mes­sage was that, as a mother, I was not a sound in­vest­ment for the com­pany.

By the time I had my third baby a cou­ple of years ago, I was work­ing in the Scot­tish pub­lic sec­tor. Here I had a hor­ren­dous ex­pe­ri­ence: the mo­ment I told them I was ex­pect­ing, my fe­male man­agers be­gan find­ing minis­cule er­rors in all my work, lead­ing to a neg­a­tive per­for­mance re­view. They tried to build up a dis­ci­plinary case against me. I sought sup­port from my trade union, who recog­nised it as bul­ly­ing and helped me fight the dis­ci­plinary case. I blamed my­self and had to be booked off sick for the rest of my preg­nancy. What hap­pened re­ally knocked my con­fi­dence and it’s taken me a long time to build my­self back up again. I only re­alised af­ter­wards how it shook me – my first and third preg­nan­cies be­ing marred by such bad ex­pe­ri­ences.”

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