Why is pregnancy stigmatized in academia ?

A fellow female scientist recently asked me to have lunch. But, she was insistent that our rendezvous point be located in a restaurant several blocks from campus. In an attempt to give her the benefit of the doubt, I tried to reason that she was sick of the cafeteria food, which is quite understandable. But, I knew full well that the news she was to deliver was that she was to deliver.

It was a hush hush conversation and when I see her on campus, we always move to a remote-ish location as to keep our voices out of earshot. Apparently, it would be bad for her peers to learn of the embryonic incubator that is her womb. But why is this the case? She is not the only scientist I know who had gone through great lengths to “hide” her pregnancy until it was impossible.

I just don’t get it. A (wanted) pregnancy is supposed to be celebrated, not frowned upon. While I can understand the desire to hold off on making the big announcement until the second trimester when the chance of miscarriage is significantly reduced, I don’t understand the negative association. Even I felt weird and guilty when letting my boss know that I would be growing a fetus inside of my body and I am all gung ho about female reproductive rights, etc., etc., etc.

Perhaps I am being superficial or self-righteous, but feeling the need to hide a pregnancy based on a fear that it will affect your credibility is just plain stupid. And it just seems like these feelings can often be traced back to some dickhead with a lot of seniority and a “traditional” belief system.

That’s all I got with this one. If you can weigh in with your experiences, feel free. I am interested in hearing how others have experienced this issue.

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